Posted on May 20th, 2006

Is it time that alternative methods of combating stress should be given a higher priority by employers wanting to get the very best from their staff, whilst protecting their productivity and profits?

We live in pressurised times, it’s not safe on the streets, our finances feel threatened, our time seems to be on a permanent fast-forward, and with recent events, the whole world seems to have been plunged into an insecure, knife-edge existence.

When we eventually grind through the traffic to work, it doesn’t get a lot better, stress is on the increase, that’s official, but then you don’t need to be a social psychologist to work that one out. Ask yourself honestly, do you feel more or less relaxed at work now than you did five years ago?

Undeniably, for many people, the levels of stress experienced today are far in excess of those from only a few years ago, this is largely due to advances in technology and communications. Industry has also seen increasing competitive pressures forcing up personal productivity requirements, and our average working hours to further increase.

The UK’s Health and Safety Executive recently reported that over 13.4 million days were lost to stress in a single year, costing British industry 370 billion pounds, - a huge chunk of profit spent financing our love-affair with stress.

The evidence behind the figures is everywhere if you look for it. Increased employee turnover, increased sickness absence, increased injury claims, managerial burn-out; this is going on in virtually every office, in every town and city nationally.

So what can be done about this modern day phenomenon?

Although by no means a total solution to workplace stress, many companies are finding the use of holistic therapies a cost-effective and powerful preventative measure to the accumulation of stress, and its many associated problems.

Holistic therapies have been around for centuries, but have only recently been adopted by businesses as a viable part of their stress management strategy.

In a workplace scenario, a large range of massages can be chosen, depending upon the specific nature of work being carried out and the logistics of how many staff are employed and the frequency of treatments required.

Many companies ask about the real benefits of holistic therapies, but interestingly, very few who adopt this method of controlling stress, go back to being without it as the benefits become apparent, both in terms of staff motivation and decreases in sickness absence.

The adoption of holistic therapies within the workplace demonstrates to staff that they are valued and that their best interests are at the heart of management. This is then repaid in increased productivity from energised staff, increased retention as staff value the treatments as an incentive, and a decrease in costs associated with covering staff sickness absences.

It is becoming obvious to most businesses that they need to rethink their strategies on coping with stress, and new health and safety regulations are making stress management a legal requirement. Holistic therapies may be just the kind of natural solution that can break the cycle of stress, and in the process, save businesses and the health service millions of pounds.

Philip Ashforth is a business coach and Director of Synergy Coaching Limited in the UK. See more about phil Ashforth and Synergy Coaching services at

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