Don't underestimate the value of one-on-one meetings

One of the largest contributors to mental health problems in the workplace is stress. Approximately 33 per cent of work-related mental disorders reported in Australia are caused by workplace stress, at a cost of $14 billion to the economy.  

Workplace stress is a major cause of poor performance, absenteeism, high turnover and human error. In fact, it is estimated as much as 40 per cent of employee turnover and 60 per cent of absenteeism is caused by workplace stress and stress-related illnesses.

Stress can also cause or worsen a long list of health issues including heart disease, headaches, depression, on the job accidents and anxiety.

With this in mind, there has never been a more important time for employers to make reducing stress a top priority. One of the most effective ways managers can reduce stress at work is through regular on-on-ones with each of their employees. Well executed fortnightly or monthly meetings of 15 to 30 minutes duration, can help reduce the risk of stress in three key ways:  

1.    Provide clarity around expectations

In a recent survey from employee assistance provider ComPsych, 31 per cent of employees cited “unclear expectations from supervisors” as their number one work-related stressor. Equally, managers feel the same frustration when their employees aren’t performing up to standard. It is hard to achieve the 'standard' though when it hasn't been well defined.  

By regularly reviewing project and performance expectations you can ensure employees know the acceptable standard of performance, along with the behaviours and actions that meet and exceed expectations. When employees understand what success looks they can create a plan to get there and focus on the important task at hand, instead second guessing what is required and potentially travelling down the wrong path. 

2.    Identify purpose and impact

Employees want to feel part of something great and that they are making a significant contribution to that greatness. When they feel this way, they not only become energised, they can also endure much greater pressures and demands without becoming burnt out.   Structured performance discussions allow you to continually communicate with employees about the organisation’s strategic priorities and the value and impact they have on their achievement.

3.    Build trust and rapport

Regular one-on-ones that focus on understanding the employee and what is important to them, allow you to get to know your employees beyond work. While separating work and home life may seem like a good way to keep your relationship professional, the reality is that’s not how life works. Work spills into and can affect your personal life, while stresses at home can influence someone’s work. Getting to know your employees personally enhances your ability to understand what is happening in their lives, their experiences and how to support them to get the most out of the relationship.

Further, when employees feel they a have a positive personal rapport with their manager they are less likely to feel underappreciated, which is a major source of stress for many employees. They are also more inclined to share their concerns, ideas, thoughts and preferences, making for a much stronger and less stressful working relationship.


Christine is the founder of People Focused. A performance management specialist and accredited coach with more than 13 years' industry experience, Christine is recognised as a highly capable human capital practitioner. Christine’s experience includes working directly with partners and principals at a number of mid-tier accounting firms, including RSM and Crowe Horwarth. More recently, she has worked extensively with First Financial, one of Melbourne’s largest independent financial service firms.


Love this .. I grow my own veggies and fruit, they taste better when in season locally
Jules 23 days ago
Thanks, Sophie -- some good life advice in your article!
Peter Eedy 41 days ago
Hey Sophia, I’m the dad of a 12 year old rugby player, Molly has been playing for 4 years. Great insight into the thought process of a young woman and I’m hoping the benefits she’ll get over time.
Paul Bunker 43 days ago