Wellbeing at work
Employees who feel valued in their workplace are more motivated, more efficient, more productive. Responsibility for creating this environment lies firmly with management. However, staff should not see themselves as victims, argues Claudine Schmitt of Wellbeing at Work sarl. There is nothing new about stress and work-life imbalance; each generation has to face up to its own challenges. The good news is that stress management training is available to the current generation of overworked office staff.
LFF: How many working hours get lost per employee because of stress or a negative environment?
CS: In Europe an average of 30.9 days are lost on an annual basis because of stress related health issues.
LFF: Is the financial sector more affected by stress than other sectors?
CS: This has not been explicitly proven. It is a fact, however, that after the financial crisis employees in the financial sector are suffering a lot from fear of loosing their job. The results of a TNS ILRES survey made in January 2010 showed that 59% of the employees of the financial sector experiencecontinual negative stress at work.
LFF: How does illness at work manifest itself?
CS: Symptoms can be recognised at a mental, physical or emotional level and often employees ignore them. Typical signs are reduced productivity, tiredness, feeling overloaded with work, being aggressive, feeling unappreciated and isolated, helpless and resentful.
LFF: Are women typically more or less affected or is there no statistical difference?
CS: The TNS ILRES survey did not identify any differences between men and women. However, it is known that women are often more aware of the state of their health than men, as men tend to ignore their body signals or do not notice anything at all until it is too late.
LFF: How closely are private problems and stress at work connected?
CS: We talk about work-life balance these days so it is clear that private stress affects the workplace and vice-versa.
LFF: Are people becoming less stress-resistant or has the pressure at work increased in recent years?
CS: Especially after the financial crises, banks are forced to reduce their margins and people are afraid of losing their job. It is clear that a lot of employees put themselves under enormous pressure and go the extra mile where before they would have taken it much easier.
LFF: Is this a phenomenon of our ever more rapidly moving world?
CS: This is a very interesting question and it is a phenomenon of fashion in our time to speak about stress. People have always lived under stressful conditions and experienced even more critical and fearful situations than what we are experiencing today.
LFF: What can employers do to create a positive working environment?
CS: The management of each company is responsible for leading by example and living the work-life balance concept themselves. Creating a good working atmosphere and showing good and valuable consideration for their employees by demonstrating interest in their health, safety and well being, are very important criteria for recognising employees as the most important assets of the company.
LFF: What can employees do to avoid psychological stress?
CS: A lot of people create their own stress by the way they think and how they perceive life in general. It is important that employees learn how to manage their own stress and change their behaviour in stressful situations. There are different methods and techniques that can be learned in training in order to assist employees to better handle their psychological stress.
Claudine Schmitt will discuss the subject of "Wellbeing at work" at an event organised by the IBF Luxembourg on March 31, 2011, 6.30 pm at the BGL BNP Paribas, Place Hamilius.