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An article by Elisa Castoro



Work-related stress occurs when the demands of the working environment exceed the worker’s ability to cope with or control them. This is according to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Those affected suffer not only from problems related to psychological and physical health, but also to creativity, productivity and competitiveness. Approximately 22% of European workers are affected by work-related-stress, a cause of absenteeism of 50% to 60% (EU-OSHA, 2000), which in combination with increased health care and lost productivity causes increased costs for both organisations and national economies (EU-OSHA, 2014). Work-related stress is, therefore, a negative factor for the worker and a loss for the company. Intervening by creating well-being in the workplace and taking care of the worker is crucial to prevent and stem the growing phenomenon of work-related-stress that can result in the phenomenon called ‘Burnout Syndrome’.


Burnout, literally ‘burning out, exhaustion’. It is a form of physical, mental, and emotional fatigue that results in personal failure and apathy about one’s work. In 2019, the WHO classifies it as a form of work-related stress, not a medical condition, that one is unable to manage. It is a widespread problem that is purely work-related.

Work-related stress can be a problem in a company.

Symptoms at the company level are:

  • Attendance – absenteeism, frequent staff turnover, poor time control, disciplinary problems, harassment, aggressive communication, and isolation.
  • Performance – reduction in productivity or product or service quality, accidents, poor decision-making, mistakes.
  • Costs – increased compensation or medical costs, referral to health services

Symptoms at the individual level:

  • Behaviour: tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse, violence, harassment, or molestation.
  • Psychology: sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, inability to concentrate, irritability, and relationship problems with family, mental and physical exhaustion.
  • Health: back problems, heart problems, peptic ulcers, hypertension, and deficient immune system.

(European Agency for Safety and Health at Work)

Four phases are identified in the onset of Burnout Syndrome (source: CentroMoses):

  1. Idealistic enthusiasm towards work: great energy invested and unrealistic expectations; desire for appreciation and immediate success. Private life is often sacrificed.
  2. Stagnation: enthusiasm is succeeded by a sense of disappointment caused by failed expectations.
  3. Frustration: a sense of worthlessness grows that results in aggressive behaviour, states of anxiety, prolonged absences.
  4. Disengagement: apathy and disengagement towards one’s work. Disappointment and impatience are accompanied by a sense of failure and guilt.

Avoid Burnout by prioritising, taking breaks, getting more sleep, exercising or working on Mindfulness, seeking support, and evaluating your options. These are some tips from experts at the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).

Legislative Decree 81/08 imposes obligations on the employer. Article 28 of the decree, in fact, specifies that the assessment of risks to the health and safety of workers must cover ‘all risks to the health and safety of workers, including those concerning groups of workers exposed to particular risks, including those related to work-related stress, according to the contents of the European agreement of 08.10.2004’.


Well-being is the new frontier in corporate welfare. The resulting benefits affect multiple fronts: people, companies, economy, and country.

According to an analysis conducted by Prowell© the key indicators of health and wellbeing that contribute to performance in the workplace, the Seven Dimensions of Wellbeing in the Workplace follow the needs of Maslow’s pyramid: Biological and physiological needs; safety needs; belonging and love needs; esteem needs; cognitive needs; aesthetic needs; self-fulfilment.



By ensuring the psycho-physical and social well-being of the employee, focusing on his or her priorities, and guaranteeing his or her happiness, the company ensures a return in terms of esteem and trust, collaboration between colleagues and consequently productivity – an increase in productivity of up to 55% is estimated.

Numerous studies show that satisfied employees are more productive, engaged and less absentee. In addition, a healthy working environment stimulates correlations between employees, making them more creative and inclined to problem solving, and also more aware and stronger in facing challenges in both the work and private spheres. Greater satisfaction corresponds to less stress. Less stress means a large and valuable workforce.

Prof. Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan have discovered a way to improve performance that has nothing to do with churning out benefits or implementing new processes. In research published in the Journal of Applied Behaviour Science, Cameron and her co-authors find that a workplace characterised by positive and virtuous practices excels in several areas. – Caring for colleagues as if they were friends; posing a compassionate and mutually supportive attitude; avoiding blame and mistakes; and weaving relationships of trust, respect, integrity and gratitude.

“When organisations institute positive, virtuous practices, they achieve significantly higher levels of organisational effectiveness, including financial performance, customer satisfaction and productivity…The more virtuousness, the greater the performance in terms of profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.” ( source: Haward Business Review –

There are four ways suggested by Prof. Cameron’s team to implement positive practices: Leadership, culture, small change, team building and workshops. Awareness on the part of a corporate team of the soft skills a leadership team should have, the ability to focus on oneself as an individual, create trust, a fundamental factor for good teamwork.

Investing in initiatives that embrace employee well-being is gaining momentum, despite the gap that still remains. More than 60 per cent of employers in Italy are moving in this direction, i.e. promoting actions aimed at cultivating a healthy working environment through a clear internal strategy.

Nine out of ten workers consider corporate welfare services to be positively impactful in achieving a positive work-life-balance.

This is a real cultural revolution, the acceleration of which has been given by the pandemic period. How companies operate and how individuals interact and work, what are the organisational needs in a reshuffling of resources and digital acceleration. Organisations will have to be able to seize advantages and opportunities.

Investing in Well-being leads to a health-related cost saving of 7 times the investment.

The continuous practice of sport within the company leads to a 22% reduction in sick leave.

After the introduction of well-being programmes, a 10% increase in retention of Millennials is observed.

(source: Jointly –

75% of companies say that well-being is an organisational responsibility (vs.96% Global figure).

70% of companies claim that the well-being strategy has positive impacts on organisational performance.

15% (vs. 21% global) say the well-being strategy is integrated into the way work is designed and the way the workforce experience is developed.

(source: 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends)


Company benefits are a set of goods and services that the company makes available to its employees outside the payroll. Basically, they represent a non-monetary compensation aimed at improving the employee’s work-life-balance and the productivity and brand reputation of the company itself. All this can be translated into diversified forms of assistance and corporate welfare.

Employee health and wellness programmes guarantee a 230% return on investment.


The expectation of employees regarding the growth of company benefits is growing. For many, benefits represent a key-tool for a flexible and smart approach to work, so much so that they appreciate them more than a salary increase.

The table shows the benefits most in demand by Italian workers for 2022, according to research carried out by Harris Interactive:

36% Immediate rewards

30% Meal Vouchers

24% Long-term bonuses

23% Medical insurance

23& Company Canteen

22% Financial Benefits

20% Subsidies for public transport passes

20% Training

17% Work flexibility

17% Company car


48% of Italian job seekers consider the company benefit as a driver in their choice.

New benefits are being added to the classic ones: time bank, company butler, psychological counselling desk, car sharing, company flat, coach, recreation room, company gym and yoga, km 0 market and canteens, nutrition and exercise education.

Retaining the best talent and attracting new ones, making your company unique, makes benefits a real asset for the company.


TAG: #Benefit #Wellbeing #Workplace #Burnout #Work-related stress


Elisa Castoro

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