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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 stress.



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