Stress is an increasingly common state in society, especially within large cities. It is an alteration of the organism, where we are overwhelmed by the demands of the environment. When this is due to work, we talk about work stress.
In this article we will know what this alteration consists of, and we will talk about how to prevent work-related stress in companies . To this end, we will offer 6 proposals that companies can apply to prevent stress among their workers.
Stress and work-related stress: what are they?
Stress is a psycho-physiological state of the organism, which appears when the demands of the environment exceed the resources available to us. Sometimes the term “anxiety” is used to refer to how we feel in highly stressful times.
The stress can appear in different scopes from the life, or the personal scope, social, labor… When it is pronounced in the labor scope (that is to say, when it appears as a result of the work), we spoke of “labor stress”. It is known that up to 59% of Spanish workers suffer from occupational stress , which has negative repercussions on the person’s health, but also on his/her productivity, quality of life, etc.
Work stress is due to multiple factors: long working hours, high demands from the company, little sleep, having a self-demanding personality, not meeting objectives, accumulated fatigue, etc.
When this stress is very high and appears along with other symptoms, then we talk about “burnout” or “burnout syndrome”. In fact, this syndrome has been recognized by the WHO (World Health Organization) as an official syndrome.
Its characteristic symptom is professional wear and tear, which translates into physical and emotional wear. But we are talking about more extreme cases than simple work stress; that is why it is important to prevent the latter, to avoid it from leading to a burnout syndrome.
How to prevent work-related stress in companies
But, how to prevent occupational stress in companies? Is this possible?
In this article we will offer some proposals to prevent this, oriented to be applied by the companies themselves.
1. Campaigns that promote sport
The first proposal we put forward on how to prevent occupational stress in companies, and which may be a good idea, is that companies should offer their workers campaigns or programmes aimed at promoting sport among their employees . These can consist of planning certain sports activities throughout the year (for example, once a week). The activities can be: yoga, cycling, basketball, football… There is a wide variety of sports to choose from.
These activities should ideally be group activities, involving as many workers as possible. The aim is for workers to acquire healthy lifestyle habits through sport; sport is also a good tool for preventing and combating stress at work, as it helps to release tension and secrete endorphins.
In addition, these types of activities can also be a good option for strengthening the bond between workers, enhancing social relations and promoting a good working climate.
2. Daily fruit in the office
This second proposal, also related to the previous one, offers us another perspective on how to prevent work-related stress in companies. It is aimed, as the previous one, at encouraging healthy habits among workers . Thus, food is another key element in obtaining this lifestyle.
Healthy lifestyles help prevent workplace stress, whether on or off the job. In addition, diet is known to have a strong influence on mood and energy. The initiative to provide free fruit to workers, although it may seem a small gesture, can encourage other healthy behaviours in them.
3. Mindfulness sessions
Mindfulness is, in turn, a philosophy of life, a healthy practice and a type of therapy. It consists of the practice of meditation, a state reached through concentration; meditation allows one to “leave the mind blank” and reach a sense of peace and fulfillment, through breathing and relaxation exercises. Thus, mindfulness is a very good tool to prevent stress.
The idea of proposing a mindfulness program within companies can also be a good option on how to prevent work-related stress in companies. This program can consist of a weekly mindfulness session in a space set up inside the company, or outside it (in an open space). These details will depend on the preferences and availability of resources of each one.
4. Massage sessions
This proposal, like some of the previous ones, is already being implemented by many companies, as it is considered innovative and healthy. Through it, a service of masseurs and/or physiotherapists is contracted to come to the office itself to give a short massage to the workers (for example, between 15 minutes and 30 minutes). These sessions can be spaced out (for example, once a week, once a month…), always depending on each company.
The type of massage is usually in the neck and head, but it can also cover other areas (although in the office the most feasible is neck and head). These massages can produce a state of relaxation in the worker, even if it is of short duration. Feeling good and comfortable in the office can prevent feelings of stress or incipient anxiety. In addition, this practice would allow “breaking” with the routine even for a short time.
5. Training in relaxation techniques
Another proposal we make on how to prevent work-related stress in companies has to do with relaxation techniques. The companies can program trainings for the workers that explain different relaxation techniques; the ideal is that these can be applied inside the office, in a moment of certain wear or stress, or simply from time to time.
There are exercises that can be done in the same office chair , or in another place depending on the type of work; these can be breathing exercises and/or meditation. They can last a few minutes and be applied when necessary. In addition, they will allow you to maintain an adequate rhythm in your work, productive, but at the same time relaxed.
6. Ergonomics training
The last proposal we put forward on how to prevent occupational stress in companies is training in ergonomics , a discipline within occupational risks. Although training in occupational hazards is compulsory for workers in all companies, it is sometimes not sufficiently taken into account.
In addition, it is a good option to give special sessions on ergonomics, this discipline in particular, which teaches us how to sit correctly to avoid injuries or contractures, how to work, what temperature is appropriate within the office, what environmental conditions are the most suitable, etc.
Adequate working conditions, at an environmental level, as well as a correct knowledge of how to work, will allow the worker to be comfortable (preventing work stress), comfortable, not to be harmed and to be most productive.
Fino, R. (2016). How to prevent occupational stress. Sesame Superheroes.
WHO (2000). ICD-10. International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition. Madrid. Pan-American.
Peiró, J.M. and Rodríguez, I. (2008). Occupational stress, leadership and organizational health. Psychologist’s papers, 29(1): 68-82.