Working actively against stress

Meeting the challenges of our times.

Stress has been identified as the #1 cause of illness today. A variety of recent scientific studies have shown that psychological pressures in the workplace are increasing across Europe. As a result, the World Health Organization has classified stress as one of the greatest risks to the well-being of humanity in the 21st century. Studies conducted within the EU indicate that approximately half of all workplace absences (days taken for sick leave) can be attributed to stress. Looking back over recent media reports, illness due to depression and anxiety threaten to become even more widespread in society.

The DAK health report for 2011 is also quite alarming: “[…] workplace absence due to conditions such as depression, burnout, stress or adjustment disorders has increased by 13.5% over the course of one year. In 2010, 12% of all employees reported ill attributed their condition to psychological distress, double the reported levels twelve years ago. Emotional distress is thus ranked fourth among the reasons for taking sick leave.” Companies and society pay a heavy price for this: poor performance, workplace absence, and early retirement due to illness costs the economy nearly € 45 billion every year. According to a study carried out by the AOK, BKK and HVBG (German health insurance providers) as part of a “Health & Work” initiative, a third of these costs could be reduced by active health management on behalf of employers.

Demographic change presents particularly strong challenges for mid-sized businesses and the German economy in general. 71% of the German workforce is employed by small companies, and 49% of the value-added in Germany stems from this business sector. So if these companies want to safeguard know-how and valueadded in the long term, it is up to them to do more to keep their older employees healthy, active and productive. If com-panies want to remain competitive, it would be wise to promote health awareness among staff and ensure they remain employable and motivated.

The Steinbeis Transfer Institute for Stressmanagement and Holistic Preventive health care at Steinbeis University Berlin, which is based in Radolfzell near Lake Constance, is geared toward supporting companies and management who expressly wish to take responsibility for professional and sustainable health care management. In doing so, companies can actively work toward maintaining and improving the health of their employees. The institute also supports people who would like to find ways to improve their own performance levels and emotional well-being in order to improve their quality of life. It is committed to dealing with issues related to stress and burnout prevention for individuals and employees, drawing on years of experience in applying their own proven holistic treatment approach. The institute places emphasis on sharing “tools for selfhelp” in day-to-day business. Experience has shown that prevention can go a long way toward reducing psychological illness and its negative effects.

In a series of seminars, participants learn how to identify and change their personal and professional stress catalysts. In doing so, they achieve an improved sense of self. Each individual develops new strategies for finding and strengthening inner balance to improve performance at work and their overall quality of life. This allows participants to proactively counter the subtle process of advancing burnout, which is typically heralded by a feeling of exhaustion – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Existing state programs available to companies indicate a growing interest in preventative health care. As a rule, companies can claim back the tax on the spa visits of employees. Measures introduced by companies to promote employee health are tax-exempt and not subject to social security, as long as they contribute to the general well-being of staff, promote health in the business, and the costs per employee per year do not exceed € 500.


Horst Grässlin
Steinbeis Transfer Institute Institute for Stressmanagement and Holistic Preventive health care Steinbeis University Berlin (Radolfzell)

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