An Onsite Stress Management Program
Doctors have now confirmed what smart managers have known all
along - that keeping employees happy is the best way to keep
them healthy and on the job.
Researchers from the Nevada Stress Center of the Sierra Nevada
Health Care System carried out a study designed to test the
effectiveness of a workplace stress management program.
Participants in the program were randomly assigned to one of
three groups. The first group received a full stress management
program including self-help materials, assessments, feedback,
and face-to-face small group counseling sessions. The second
group received an intermediate level of stress management
support consisting of assessment and personalized feedback by
mail. The third group served as the control group and were
placed on a waiting list for stress counseling services.
Over 500 volunteers participated in the study and were followed
for a period of one year. Participants answered questionnaires
about their levels of stress and anxiety and their coping
strategies at the beginning of the study and after 6 and 12
months of participation. Health information was also reported at
three-month intervals. For a subgroup of the volunteers, doctors
completed objective health reports throughout the year.
While all three groups, including the waitlisted participants,
reported improvement in their stress and anxiety during the
year, the group receiving the full stress management program
showed a faster reduction in negative reactions to stress. This
group also reported fewer days of illness than their
counterparts receiving limited stress management intervention or
those on the waiting list. Doctors' reports showed that those
receiving full stress management intervention utilized health
care services 34% less frequently than the others.
These results confirm that office-based stress management
programs can be of value in reducing employee illness and its
resultant absenteeism. Additionally, these programs can
significantly reduce employee anxiety and stress, likely further
contributing to increased productivity. As in this study, stress
management programs that involve small group or individual
counseling seem to be most effective in managing employee