How to combat stress in the workplace

The EU-wide social campaign “Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress” has just been launched. It aims to increase awareness of problems related to stress in the workplace and is addressed both to employers and employees.

According to psychologists, stress can result in severe mental illnesses, and it can also reduce the physical immunity of the organism. In Europe, more than half of the employees confesses that stress in their workplace is a common phenomenon. In order to strengthen the awareness of both employers and employees of the dangers connected with stress, European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) launched the campaign “Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress.”


Which factors cause stress in the workplace? Most of all, lack of certainty of permanent employment, and also too high demands of the boss or too little time to perform assigned duties. Also, unjust motivational system and lack of perspectives for promotion are important. The stress of today is most of all caused by the lack of certainty of employment, confirms the psychologist Dr Dorota Żołnierczyk-Zreda, PhD. The fear of losing one’s job is connected with the stress of overload. People who keep their jobs usually have more to do at work. Then they complain about having too much work, the pressure of time, urgent deadliness, which stresses them incredibly. This intensification of work results in turn in stress connected with the lack of ability to retain the balance between work and home and work and private life.


In every workplace, interpersonal relationships are of significant importance. Phenomena such as lack of support from co-workers, unhealthy competition or even psychological harassment and intimidation have a direct influence on the well-being of the employees. By our desire to stand out, by our ambitions, we have upset the psychological balance. We do not manage stress. Employees are different, employers are different too. There are ones who took their posts unprepared for the proper management of health and life of other people. They are guided by their simple philosophy of “squeezing” as much as possible. But it does not work, because in the end they themselves fall prey to these practices, explains Associate Professor, Danuta Koradecka MD PhD, the Director of the Central Institute for Labour Protection - National Research Institute, the organiser of the campaign’s Polish edition.


The aim of the campaign “Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress” is to prove to the employers and employees that it is possible to efficiently counteract stress appearing in connection with work. Dorota Korodecka emphasises that the organizers want to reach out to the victims of stress and make them aware where it comes from and how to deal with it.


Stress situations arise due to poor organisation of work and inappropriate management of the company. The more impatience, irritation and conflict are there in the company, the more nervousness and anxiety among the employees. The costs of such a situation are not only mental illnesses, increased amount of antidepressants (which is a fact in our country), but also medical problems of a general nature. Because stress works in a non-specific manner. It lowers our immune system, our regeneration functions and thus leads to a huge number of diseases, says Dr. Dorota Żołnierczyk-Zreda.


Within the frames of the campaign, a multi-lingual guide for owners and managers of small companies and micro-enterprises will be published; it will contain information about psychosocial threats. For example, if we talk about stress related to bad physical conditions in the workplace, it is often the case that the employers do not have the tools to improve the employees’ life. However, in many cases it is primarily the lack of knowledge, awareness and goodwill to carry out such actions, emphasises Dr Dorota Żołnierczyk-Zreda.


“Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress” is the largest European social campaign organised by European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

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