Workplace health promotion is a modern corporate/institutional strategy that aims to prevent diseases and to increase the possibilities of healthiness and well-being at work. It is necessary to develop the knowledge and methods that help the company achieve a health-conscious behavior and lifestyle. This is especially important because the employees are the hardest to be reached by the traditional health care, while they are the most vulnerable ones from the point of view of several severe diseases.
Health promotion can be achieved in several forms. The two most common forms are: the occupational health plan and occasional stress measurement and the mapping of stress factors.
The introduction of occupational health promotion presupposes a proper planning and its effective tool can be the occupational health plan. The occupational health plan is a complex program plan which serves the improvement of the workers’ life quality and working conditions and their health improvement – by mobilizing community resources. In the realization of the plan all the parties concerned take part equally and actively, as it is based on the needs of the workplace community.
The harmful effects of stress, including occupational stress, are approached by the researchers from several directions, however, there is a definite consensus that occupational stress is harmful and it contributes to the development of psychological (cognitive, behavioral and emotional), psychosomatic and chronic diseases, too. The literature divides the biological and psychological consequences of occupational stress into short-term and long-term consequences.
The short-term effect results in the fight-or-flight response of the body, during which sudden energy is produced. At the workplace, these reactions appear at the same time with the appearance of stress. If the sources of stress persist for a long time or appear repeatedly, anxiety, depression and various psychosomatic diseases may develop. Such diseases – called expressly manager disease – are hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, skin diseases, asthma and chronic headache. Bush et al. summarize the short-term and long-term effects of occupational stress based on the areas of appearance (psychological/somatic, cognitive/emotional, behavioral, reference group, organization). The chart below illustrates them:
|Area||Short-term stress effect||Long-term stress effect|
|Physiological/somatic||– increase of cardiovascular activity (blood pressure, heart rate)
– increasing hormone responses (adrenaline, noradrenaline)
|– the possibility of diseases increases because of the disorder of the immune system
– psychosomatic diseases
|Cognitive/emotional||– irritability, mental jams, tension, anger, fury, anxiety||– burnout, depressed mood, depression, decreased self-esteem|
|Behavioral||– increased error rate||– limited leisure activities|
|Reference group||– conflictuous interactions||– social tension, mobbing|
|Organization||– norm violations
– feeling injustice
|– capacity and ability for decreased performance
– restrained work
– increase in the number of sick leaves
– early retirement
– theft, sabotage
The chart above shows that the stressors at work appear at different levels of the organization and work processes and they entail both short-term and long-term negative consequences.
Bush, Ch., Roscher, S., Ducki, A., Kalytta, T. (2009) Stressmanagement für Teams in Service, Gewerbe und Produktione -ein reccourceorientierter Trainingmanual. Springer