Any organization should view devising a strategy to reduce stress as a
necessary part of the cost of maintaining its most valuable asset – its
workforce. The ideal strategy will depend upon the size and resources of the
The following elements can be included in an organization’s strategy
for reducing stress:
A programme to increase the level of awareness throughout the
organization of the enormous cost of stress within the workplace;
A programme to help employees identify the symptoms of stress
both in themselves and in their colleagues;
A counselling programme to help individuals;
A system for monitoring absenteeism (the reasons for implementing
such a system, and how long it will take to implement, should be explained to
Regular feedback reports to staff concerning the progress of the
new strategy and any improvements that it brings about;
A programme of stress-preventive measures to improve the overall
wellbeing of employees in the long term, such as the provision of sports
facilities, flexi-time, health insurance, and regular medical checks.
Things to do
Identify those employees most at risk from stress.
Offer incentives for low absenteeism, being careful not to
Promote stress awareness in in-house publications.
Do not allow anyone to work in-house after 7 p.m.
Introduce a no-smoking policy in your office.
Deciding on levels of change
When you are devising your strategy, you need to choose a level of
intervention: primary, secondary, or tertiary. Each level will bring changes to
bear on a different aspect of the stress problem. Primary intervention concerns
fundamental change and is rare; secondary intervention, known as the
“sticking plaster” approach, combats specific causes of stress;
and tertiary intervention is concerned with individual treatment and long-term
Table Considering levels of intervention
Primary Involves radical change affecting an entire organization.||
Relocating from urban areas to “greenfield” sites to improve working environment.
Redesigning premises, and rebuilding if necessary, to upgrade and modernize facilities.
Companies must pay relocation expenses and set up support systems to help staff adjust.
If staff are adversely affected while building work takes place, organizations may be obliged to offer compensation.
Secondary Deals with the specific causes of stress by tackling problems directly.||
Companies may need to provide showers and changing rooms for
those using sports facilities.
In-house canteens should be able to offer a wide choice of
meals and cater for those with special dietary requirements.
Tertiary Provides help on an individual basis for those who suffer from stress.||
Initiating programmes to help staff stop smoking or drinking; offering free medical checks.
Providing free, confidential counselling for employees with personal problems.
On-going support should be provided for staff who are trying
to give up smoking or drinking.
Free counselling services should be made available for as
long as individual staff members feel that they require them.
Think about introducing a pilot scheme before a full programme.
Set up support systems to help stressed staff.
Increase investment in staff training where necessary.
Examine the resources of your company before deciding which
strategy to use to deal with stress.
Encourage healthy eating by improving in-house canteen lunch