Employee Stress Levels:
Makers Get it Right
Living in the 21st century has many advantages.
Because of air travel, you can reach almost anywhere in the world in less than a day. Because of telephones and
Skype, you can communicate with family, friends and work contacts, regardless of distance.
And the internet means we have access to
information from all over the world.
We can learn from what others are doing right and apply it in our own lives. Like how German car
makers are reducing stress in their employee’s lives.
It’s been long known that work stress reduces productivity and increases company costs. (stat)
Not to mention making employees miserable and reducing staff enthusiasm.
Nothing shrinks motivation like stress
So it’s great to see big companies doing something about it. The fact that they make decent
cars makes it even better. Volkswagen and Daimler AG (the company behind Mercedes) have both introduced easy
measures to reduce employee stress levels.
And they are measures we can easily adopt. Surveys have confirmed that employees who don’t
switch off from work each day, or while on holiday, have higher stress levels.
So while those mid vacation emails might show your boss how dedicated you are, they also stop
you from truly unwinding.
You therefore return to work not as refreshed as you should be. You aren’t as “on the ball” as
you would be if you took not just a physical break from work, but a mental one too.
Something as simple as switching off from work completely significantly reduces your
stress levels, and increases your work capacity when you are at work.
It’s so important, that Volkswagen has actually introduced a rule that emails can’t be sent to
employees once it is 30 minutes after their work day has ended.
Daimler’s email system can be set to “mail on holiday”, ensuring that employees don’t check or
answer emails when they have time off.
And Deutsche Telekom has introduced a policy stating that employees are not expected to be
contactable outside of work hours.
You can maximise the effectiveness of your annual time off by switching off completely. Set
your email to send out an automatic out of office reply when you take time off. This will make sure any
clients understand your delayed response. It can also be a gentle reminder to colleagues and superiors that
yes; you really won’t be working during your time off.
Turn off your work number after work. If you have
trouble doing this you can always ask yourself: “Am I paid to be on call?”
If you are involved in big projects, have a management position, or run your own business, it
can be hard to switch off mentally after work. You may find yourself thinking about work when you really
should either be present with your family, or relaxing.
Know that the mental refreshment that comes from unwinding properly is worth it. Give yourself
permission to relax and take time off. Enjoy the lifestyle you are actually working for!