Work Stress: What Are Companies Doing About It?

work stressAccording to a recent survey conducted by Buck Consultants, a Xerox company, employers recognize how work stress can effect employee performance and are responding by offering multiple programs and initiatives to help employees better manage work stress.

The survey, "Stress in the Workplace," identifies the areas most affected by work stress and the strategies employers are adopting to reduce stress for their workers. The study analyzes responses from more than 250 people representing 200 or so organizations of different sizes across multiple industries.

The issues most affected by work stress are health-care costs, absenteeism, and workplace safety. In order to combat the costs associated with these issues, many employers have implemented one or more of the following strategies.

  • Work/life balance support programs (46%)
  • Leadership training on worker stress (45%)
  • Online healthy lifestyle programs (45%)
  • Onsite fitness centers (43%)
  • Physical activity programs (38%)
  • Stress awareness campaigns (35%)
  • Financial management classes (30%)
  • Personal health/lifestyle management coaching (29%)

One company taking an interesting approach to wellness is Tiffany. In 2008, they launched the Take 5 Campaign to provide financial tools and resources to employees. The company's strategy was to position the campaign within the context of overall wellness. The program includes webinars and live seminars on topics such as investing in a down market, 401(k) basics, budgeting, Medicare, company retirement plans, identity theft, credit reports, mortgages, and refinancing.

Corning created a stress management program to help workers understand the nature of stress and its health effects and introduce stress coping skills. They offer classes in tai chi, biofeedback, meditation, yoga, muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and cognitive restructuring.

"Managing stress in the workplace is a business issue, not fluff," says Rania Sedhom, principal at Buck Consulting. She notes, "Companies that make the investment to reduce stress in the workplace can improve employee loyalty and retention." Sedhom recommends that employers with limited funds create opportunities for inexpensive or even employee-funded get-togethers, because these activities build camaraderie and trust -- which in turn can reduce work stress.

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