Measured data to reduce the huge cost and personal suffering caused by chronic stress

Work-related stress can become chronic and cause significant costs for both companies and societies. There are several sources and statistics for the numbers, and the scale is large depending on the calculation method. What is common in all the models is that the costs are rising in both the US and the EU.

Even when estimating conservatively, it could be argued that we are looking at a massive yearly cost of €/$ 600 billion, both in the EU and the US respectively. (Sources and more statistics at the end of this article.)

Individual suffering – A true story about what it means when stress slowly but steadily becomes chronic

‘It was during the Christmas break when I started to notice the first signs. The feeling of hopelessness and a hint of bitterness had started slowly to fester inside of me. Two and a half years of hectic family life had drained my energy. The size of our family had grown from one child to three in just a couple of years. Without a proper safety net, it felt like my husband and I had become machines in taking care of our family.

We were both exhausted and the only thing keeping us sane was being able to daily go to work, to our paid jobs. As absurd as it may sound, we were surely not the first parents to go to the office to recover from family life.

To the amusement of my colleagues, I started forgetting things at work. I would even go to a meeting and be very impressed by a job nicely done, just to hear that I had been part of it. Memory problems began to show up.

By the end of January I noticed that I couldn’t get through my regular exercise routine anymore, let alone improve on my performance. I was just tired. I wanted to exercise, but I was too tired to get to it.

Then I got my first flu. And a second flu. And a third flu. Soon I noticed that I was the only one in our family getting sick all the time. By the end of July I had been taken ill almost ten times. My immune system was beginning to break down.’

We can take preventive measures to avoid the negative effects of chronic stress

Chronic stress is both a financial as well as a very personal issue impacting workplaces and families all around the world. Prolonged stress can bring on burnout, along with various other physical and psychological diseases.

Recuperation is a slow and difficult process and full recovery from a burnout is seldom possible. Preventive measures are the key. It is not always easy to recognize our limits until we go beyond them. However, using tools to objectively measure physiological load can awaken and lead to better self-understanding “before it’s too late”.

Workplaces have a significant role in preventing chronic stress

Workplaces are ideal for preventive measures: It is easy to reach people. The employer has much power and opportunity to facilitate achieving good balance between stress and recovery. Job performance is directly linked to the amount of stress you sustain – the outcome is never optimal under heavy pressure.

Preventive measures at work include, but are not limited to:

  •  A good atmosphere where it is possible to openly talk about stress. This requires that management has publicly admitted it exists in the first place. They need to say: Yes, burnout might happen among our employees too and we do the utmost to prevent it.
  • Gathering data
    Subjective data: Questionnaires, online satisfaction surveys, and so on.
    Objective data: Measured data, real-time physiological data preferred.

Possibility for an employee to go and discuss with a healthcare professional or, for example, a wellbeing coach when experiencing the first signs of chronic stress.

Real-time feedback to improve self-understanding

The Moodmetric smart ring measures stress in real time, providing unique and continuous data.

The Moodmetric smart ring measures electrodermal activity (EDA) with the accuracy of a laboratory device. It is a very sensitive indicator of emotional and cognitive stress.

The real-time feedback as well as the simple and clear visualization of stress and recovery levels on the Moodmetric app motivates to manage stress better.

 

Two week measurement period gives a good picture on the mental load level of the wearer. An individual can use this data to better understand the life as a whole and to see where the stressing can calming factors derive. The data helps to recognize one’s limits, learn to respect them and also to communicate them to others.

Drop in at our booth 6g34 on both days (Wed-Thu) for a live demo and to test the Moodmetric ring for yourself – welcome!

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The blog is written by

Niina Venho
M.Sc.
CEO Moodmetric / Vigofere Oy

co-writers
Henna Salonius
Helen Chambers

 

Statistics:

EU
the total costs of work-related depression* in the EU27 are nearly €620 billion per annum

  • absenteeism and presenteeism (€270 billion)
  • lost output in economy (€240 billion)
  • healthcare costs (€60 billion)
  • payments in social welfare (€40 billion)

*Stress and depression: In the economic model, it was assumed that there is a 100% overlap between stress and depression. In other words, a person who has depression also suffers from stress.
Source: Matrix

US

  • In 1987, Matteson and Ivancevich calculated that the annual cost of workplace stress to the US economy was US$300 billion
  • Rosch (2001) also estimated that stress costs the US economy US$300 billion annually, this figure being based on Albrecht’s (1979) conservative estimate of the annual cost of stress-related absence and staff turnover of US$150billion
  • Some 20 years later,Rosch argued that the expenses of absenteeism and staff turnover rates have doubled.