European Union tackles workplace stress with new campaign

The European Union recently launched a campaign to counter stress in the workplace.

Workplace stress is an issue that employers around the world are working to improve. According to the latest poll from the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA), over half of workers say that stress is common problem in their place of employment, and four out of 10 employees say that the issue is not handled well within their organizations. 

To improve the situation of workers in European Union member states, EU-OSHA recently launched a two year campaign called Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress. The inter-governmental agency is calling on public and private employers to recognize that worker health and safety is essential for organizational productivity. 

"Workplaces cannot afford to ignore work-related stress, which increases absenteeism and lowers productivity," László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said in a press release. "[...] A positive working environment is not only important for enabling employees to work longer, it is also important to ensure that when workers do retire, they are still in good health."

One goal of the campaign is to show that stress in the workplace can be handled similarly to other occupational health and safety issues. As a part of the program, the EU has provided employers with information about how to manage the risks that cause workplace stress and ideas for how to deal with them. 

As a stress expert I'm thrilled that the EU recognizes and is taking action to help organizations, and the people in them, manage stress through programs specifically targeted to address it.  Before implementing any solution however I would advise them to start with assessment. This does two critical things. It gives individuals a personal stress and resiliency profile allowing each to pinpoint his or her unique stress strengths and vulnerabilities for self-improvement. It gives organizations a baseline measure of their workforce stress and resiliency levels so they can target interventions based on need, and track progress to measure impact and ROI. When it comes to organizational stress, like so many things, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.

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