Monday, September 24, 2007

How can employers reduce worker stress?

Stressed out employees are less productive, tend to have higher turnover than happy employees, and make more mistakes on the job. What can employers do about it? Here's an idea from Australia I bet most workers would support, via Science Daily:
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, found that 54 percent of the emergency room staff in summer and 65 percent in winter suffered moderate to extreme anxiety. However, this fell to 8 percent, regardless of the season, once staff received 15-minute aromatherapy massages while listening to music.

The study involved 86 nurses during two 12-week alternative therapy sessions provided over the course of one year. Sixteen massages were carried out over a two-day work period each week, with the names of staff working those days put into an envelope and selected at random.

"Introducing stress reduction strategies in the workplace could be a valuable tool for employers who are keen to tackle anxiety levels in high pressure roles and increase job satisfaction," study leader, Marie Cooke, of Griffith University in Brisbane, said in a statement.

"But what is clear from this study, is that providing aromatherapy massage had an immediate and dramatic effect on staff who traditionally suffer high anxiety levels because of the nature of their work.

At my last job I watched an insane level of stress make life unbearable for everyone there. Something like this would not only have benefited those who got the occasional treat, but would have helped repair an environment where employees felt alienated and unappreciated. That makes me wonder if there were any subsidiary effects for those who weren't chosen to receive a massage in the weekly drawings (only 16 of the 86 nurses would receive a massage in any given week)? I'd imagine that not only getting an occasional massage might help, just the idea of having an employer who gives a crap about your mental health might also bring stressed employees some comfort.

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