Unique Solutions for Job Stress

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Imagine logging on to your computer on your day off to catch up on a little work. And there, on your screen, is a friendly little pop-up reminder from your company: “It’s the weekend.”

This actually happened to Lorie Baker, a director at PricewaterouseCoopers, according to the article “You’re Cut Off” by Inara Verzemnieks in the October issue of Working Mother magazine. Hoping to reduce work stress, PWC sends the reminder note to curb weekend work-related emailing, according to the article.

It sounds counterintuitive, but some companies are starting to see that stressed out, burned out employees aren’t very good for the bottom line.

Research shows job stress is linked to depression. And a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows stress at work is linked to a second heart attack. Those who returned to work in a stressful job had two times the risk of a new heart attack, compared to those who returned to a low-stress job, according to the Canadian researchers.

The study authors recommend that heart attack patients, who return to work, ask for help in reducing work stress.

But a few companies, are proactively stepping up to help. Here are some innovative strategies they’re using, according to Verzemnieks’ article in Working Mother magazine:

  • To reduce email overload, The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison has a policy that encourages employees to have a conversation rather than send an email.
  • Boston Consulting Group monitors employees’ hours. Those who average more than 55 hours a week over five consecutive weeks are reported to management.
  • At the outdoor clothing, equipment and acessories company Patagonia, the day’s surf report is posted above the front reception desk, the “boardroom” stores surfboards and particularly good surf conditions might be announced over the company’s loudspeaker.
  • At tax and accounting firm Ernst & Young, employees receive an annual voicemail message from global chairman and CEO James Turley, stressing the importance of a vacation. If you don’t take one, someone from human resources will come and talk to you.

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently distributed an employee handbook entitled “Rest and Relaxation: The Value of Time Off.”

“Among the instructions: Try not to call the office to discuss business matters or check voicemail or email. You are either on vacation or you’re at work you shouldn’t try to be in two places at one time. And perhaps most important: “Enjoy your family, friends or solitude.”

Source: Jule Deardorff, Chicago Tribune.

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