Mental health disorders are an increasingly common health problem in Europe and cause an increasing number of absenteism. At the same time, absence from work due to mental health disorders is longer, and as a result, it is a greater cost to the employer than all other health problems combined.


One of the main causes of mental problems in the workplace is stress. 2020. A survey conducted by the Salary Information Agency and the CV Center Today, that number is probably even higher. Work stress and the consequent burnout in the home office are especially dangerous for employees.


The employer can contribute to reducing work stress by creating a supportive work environment. We asked Fujitsu and ABB representatives about their experience in preventing and dealing with work stress.


What is work stress?


When work-related challenges are greater than our coping options, work stress occurs. As a result, our work capacity decreases and various mental and physical problems arise, from insomnia to depression. Work stress that is not managed leads to burnout, the recovery from which is already a much longer journey than the struggle with work stress.


“A stressful time at work is probably something that most of us come across. Important is then find out what is the cause of it, whether it is short-term or not, how to change this situation, and you should definitely report it to your manager or the work environment specialist”, describes Fujitsu’s HR specialist.


Work stress manifests itself as a constant state of tension


The state of tension is accompanied by both mental and physical manifestations – fatigue occurs, the heart rate increases, breathing increases and the perception of the surroundings sharpens. The stress response is the body’s signal that something needs to be done to reduce the tension.


We can alleviate short-term stress by taking time off for even a few hours, moving in the fresh air, exercising, engaging in relaxing activities that help take your mind off work, spending time with lovely people, breathing deeply, sharing your worries with a colleague, etc. However, if a person does not notice their daily stress or the stress becomes so great that small habits no longer help, the stress reaction becomes a permanent condition.


Noticing it in time and taking an active role to help yourself allows you to relieve stress and, most importantly, to change something in the work environment and processes that would help prevent these conditions from recurring. However, if a person ignores signs of stress, takes too small steps or does not associate them with work stress and only seeks physical relief, there is a risk that burnout may occur as a result of long-term stress.


How to prevent work stress?


It all starts with noticing. It is important to share your worries and not consider them small and pass away by themselves. A more difficult step than noticing can often be to take action and actually change something – talk to your employer, reorganize your work, take time off and add new supportive habits to your daily schedule.


“If an employee has a concern, feels signs of work stress or burnout, he can turn to his direct manager, the occupational health and safety team, or a trusted colleague. In any case, we try to create a working environment in the company where talking about such topics is not a taboo, and the employee can trust that by talking, they can find a solution to their concerns,” describes Fujitsu’s HR specialist.


“At Fujitsu, we place great emphasis on prevention. We have an occupational health cooperation partner, HeBa, who conducts a comprehensive study of the health of our employees, with the help of which we can map the physical and mental health of employees and, in turn, prevent work stress and burnout. Once a year, we have a health month, which focuses on topics related to and supporting mental health. Within the framework of this event, we will cover various topics that would raise the awareness of employees and equip them with various health self-help techniques and tools.”


ABB also places great emphasis on supporting mental health and, through this, preventing work stress.


“We celebrate mental health week, during which we raise employees’ awareness of various mental health topics. In addition, we have health insurance through which you can participate in the counseling of a psychologist if you wish.”


What can be done to avoid work stress?


The most important thing is to be in touch with yourself. Know what amount of stress and tension is acceptable and know how to manage excess tension at the right moment. Here are some simple tips for you to avoid work stress, but also to mitigate it:


  1. Reduce multitasking: One task at a time. “To do” lists are helpful for staying focused.
  2. An hour at a time! Take a movement break 1x in an hour. Set an alarm on your phone that will remind you of its need.
  3. Be honest. You yourself are the most important thing. Dare to admit to yourself when some task is beyond your control and talk about it openly with your immediate manager.
  4. Stay in the fresh air. Before you send off an important email or go to a meeting, take a 10-minute walk outside. It helps to clear the head and cool down emotions.
  5. Eat and drink enough. Our body cannot function without nutrients. Take your lunch with you to the office so that you always have healthy food on hand.


In order to support you and your employees in coping with stress and creating a supportive work environment, we have created stress management training. It has helped many and will surely help you too! Sign up your team: