Is work related stress exaggerated?
Stress in everyday life is nothing new, but it seems that work is becoming an ever-increasing stress factor. According to the German Health Ministry (Bundesgesundheitsministerium), 9 out of 10 people feel stressed at work. The 2018 BKK Health Report yielded similar results: 85% of all respondents feel stressed directly by their work, and every third person regularly suffers from work stress. Due to this, over half felt limited by their health, with about 40% still going to work despite dissatisfaction and limited performance ability. It becomes increasingly evident that stress is a serious issue, both in everyday life and at work.
How does stress affect us?
When you find yourself in anxiety and fear-fueled situations, your body reacts with stress, causing an automatic release of a hormone cocktail consisting of adrenaline and cortisol. If this state of stress continues for a longer period of time it leads to acute stress, which is not only dangerous to your health, but can also lead to burnout and even depression. As a result , both your physical and mental health take a knock: you are highly agitated, you feel overwhelmed and helpless. This intense form of exhaustion, which is classified as a burnout, is marked by neurotic tendencies, fatigue and coping difficulties. Unfortunately, severe stress seems to affect more people every day, and every second person reports feeling threatened by a burnout.
Today’s working world is fast-paced and demanding, and the “always available” attitude and pressure to achieve only lead to increasing stress levels. Every third person in Germany claims to often suffer from severe work-related stress. Due to biological programming, our bodies perceive stress as a physical threat, which, if prolonged, can lead to severe negative health risks. Furthermore, in the last ten years, the number of workdays missed due to mental problems inclined drastically to 79%, with company and team crises cited as one of the main causes. This is also reflected in the number of absent days, which rose sharply from 19,97 million in 2012 to 30,53 million in 2016. According to a study done by Wellnow (carried out by the Market Research Institute Dr. Grieger & Cie), stress leads to an average of six absent days per employee on a yearly basis. These stress-related absent days not only negatively impact the employee’s health, but they also lead to a yearly national economic loss of 45,3 billion Euro from the resulting costs.
Stress does not only put employees’ health at risk, it also negatively affects their concentration and efficiency abilities. This is because stress load reduces work quality, as the internal frenzy results in a limited ability to focus. Despite rising stress-induced absent days, very few companies offer their employees opportunities to learn how to cope with and manage their stress. Such stress management measures do not need to be overly extensive; in fact, it has been proven that even small actions positively stabilize the relationship between employee and employer. Employees in particular have expressed their need for relevant offers for stress reduction programs or activities. The absenteeism report of the Scientific Institute (WIdo) of the Allgemeine Ortskrankenkassen (AOK) evaluated the sick leave of 12,5 million of its working members. According to the report, 90% of workers expressed their desire for recreational and relaxation offers in the workplace, while around 80% believed that such a program would lead to an improved work atmosphere and quality. It was also reported that following a crisis, only 42% of those questioned felt supported by their company, 12% took unpaid leave or seeked out therapy and a whole 20% stated that they received little to no support from their employers.
The idea of work-life-balance is to find a state of balance between your work life and your private life, where both can co-exist harmoniously. There are various measures and programs, such as flexible work times, home office opportunities or even joint company activities. Similarly, offers such as drinks or snacks, a financed gym membership or other wellness activities are also popular. Furthermore, there are also recreational activities that can be directly integrated into the work day. These can take the form of a renewed break culture, incorporating regular micro breaks, which increase motivation and concentration by creating distance from the stressful situation. Another option would be to introduce relaxation and mindfulness practices into the workplace, as these can be incorporated easily and with great flexibility. Employees can be offered free access to meditation apps, as these mindfulness programs have scientifically proven benefits such as stress release and increased concentration.
There are apps that utilise modern technology combined with meditation to facilitate physical health and mental relaxation. The Kenkou Stress Guide is one such example, offering a program tailored to your needs and stress level to accompany you towards a wholesome life. Using the smartphone camera, HRV and pulse is measured and used to determine the individual stress level, so that this can be reduced using the personalised stress reduction program. Through daily exercises, tips and mindfulness practices the individual stress control is increased. Compared to other apps the Stress Guide offers scientifically accurate measurements of vital data, which allows insight into stress level history and evaluation of progress on stress resistance and resilience. By offering their employees access to apps such as the Stress Guide, companies present them with an interactive and practical solution to their work stress. Not only does this reduce the individual stress level, but it also leads to an integrated and balanced work team. Furthermore, the improved quality of life is reflected in both the work ethic and quality. Because employees who come to work with a smile and an enthusiastic attitude complete their tasks with much more joy and efficiency, which results in a more productive workspace.
On the other hand, the economic ability of a company depends mostly on the health and energy of its employees. By offering improved recreational and stress relief opportunities, a positive work culture and environment is created, where employees are motivated and healthy. Over 80% of those interviewed were of the opinion that stress relief opportunities provided at work would increase their performance and motivation. A further 78% believed that as a result of such measures, the work atmosphere would be positively impacted, as employers convey that they care about their employees’ health and wellbeing as people, above and beyond their work contribution. When employees feel valued and relaxed, the team dynamic is also affected, creating a cooperative community. As can be seen, recreational offers are not only beneficial for workers, but also for the company as a whole, and they should be introduced and managed according to the interests of both parties.
Even though relaxation facilities and opportunities provide clear benefits to both employers and employees, only 20% of german companies provide such an offer. Additionally, most workers are dissatisfied with the current stress relief and management offers presented to them. Since early 2008, the support of employee health programs receives unbureaucratic tax support from the German state. According to the Ministry of Health (Bundesgesundheitsministerium), a German company can claim up to 500€ tax-free per year per employee to be used for health and stress support programs. This can be enforced through offers including wellness programs or health management tools, such as meditation apps like the Stress Guide. Because healthy and motivated employees are not only happier, but they are also more creative and productive and, as such, a vital success factor in any business.
Our Stress Guide App is designed to help you recognize and reduce your stress! We use modern technology and traditional mindfulness techniques to create the perfect stress program tailored to your needs.
Download it for free to find your stress solution: