Monday, March 17, 2014

Good stress management

Currently, we are holding a seminar at the University about stress at the workplace and health promotion in companies. The relevance of this issue is evident not only because of the keen interest of our students, but also due to its presence in daily press. Articles on the subject appear almost weekly on all possible aspects of stress:

- how stressed we are („Burnout Is Everywhere“),

- who is affected by it  ("Exhausted dancers make their point"),

- what personal and economic consequences can be observed („Feeling stressed? It's probably harming your health", "Get a life", "Burnout on the rise: Workplace woes adding up"),

- what can be done against it („Stress in the city: how employers can help"

- what should be considered („Status and Stress“).

I welcome that the issue of stress is being discussed. Especially for companies this really is a pressing issue, in my oppinion. It is crucial to look for solutions and take measures so that the material prosperity we have in our latitudes also leads to a high level of well-being. However, I am rather critical of the trend of coupling the issue of stress with categories of performance: Stress is often considered as a condition that needs to be “managed”. The attributes of “good” or “bad” stress management follow quickly and quite automatically. This tendency can also be observed in an article in the “Handelszeitung” with the translated subtitle “Work-Life-Balance: Successful leaders plan and measure their sleep. Intelligent regeneration becomes a career advantage”. Only those who deal with stress efficiently and optimize their regeneration are able to keep up. The credo is an hour of jogging and an hour meditating, functional food and the “right” kind of sleep, only to be ready and resilient. It is of course great if this lifestyle brings joy and relaxation. But if this behavior comes out of a perceived pressure to perform, it probably doesn’t bring the desired results in the long term and for many with a family and a social life, it is simply not doable. Companies should actively address this issue. I think it is important to take the issue of mental health of the employees of a company seriously and to develop effective measures – not primarily as a tool for enhancing performance, but out of compassion and care for the employees and colleagues. This is the only way to actually increase a sense of personal well-being. Well-being shouldn’t be just a means to an end, but should in itself be considered valuable. A nice quote from the stakeholder literature captures this in a nutshell: „Strategically applying ethical principles – that is, acting according to moral principles only when doing so is to your advantage – is by definition, not following ethical principles at all.“ (Berman, Wicks, Kotha und Jones (1999: p. 493)

Vanessa McSorley

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
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    Stress Management