60% of workers find their job stressful, 51% have considered leaving it because of the overwhelming demands and one in three professionals would accept a lower salary if the new role guaranteed greater peace of mind. These are the data that emerge from a survey conducted by Michael Page – a leading global company in the recruitment of highly qualified professionals and managers – on 3,854 professionals who are employed or looking for work. According to the survey participants, the main causes of stress are: lack of recognition for one’s value (42%); excessive workloads (31%); difficulty in balancing professional and private life (24%). «It is clear – states Francesca Caricchia, Senior Executive Director of PageGroup – how flexibility, protection of people’s well-being (which also takes shape in managing workloads as best as possible) and continuous dialogue must be at the centre of every strategy talent attraction and of talent retention».

Lack of recognition is a major cause of stress for one in four employees. It is vital to recognise the work and successes of your team, celebrating top performances and showing appreciation for the work your team does. Identifying areas where you can streamline processes, eliminate unnecessary meetings and give your workforce a break is the first step to reducing work-related stress. You may also want to consider implementing a four-day working week, which has shown promising results in recent trials in Europe, with employees experiencing less stress, improved mental health and no impact on productivity. 60% of employees find working remotely less stressful than working in the office, so offering flexible or remote working options can make a big difference where it is possible. However, it is important to ensure ongoing support and regularly assess stress levels to avoid employees feeling isolated. Working from home does not always make people feel at ease. Regular meetings, for example, are vital to assess stress levels, manage workloads and ensure people don’t feel isolated or overwhelmed. Regularly checking in on the emotional health of teams is essential. Talking openly about workloads, goals and deadlines and gathering anonymous feedback can help maintain a healthy work environment. “To reduce work-related stress,” Caricchia concludes, “it is not necessary to completely overturn processes. Often, small changes can make a big difference, improving employees’ lives and creating a healthier organizational culture. Despite this, there is still a gap between what employees need and what companies offer. Only 10% of survey participants received concrete support. While some companies are already implementing assistance and feedback programs, there is still a long way to go. It is essential to put workers’ well-being and health first, as many are considering changing jobs to avoid burnout, which will also have a significant impact on companies.”

In search of happiness in the workplace

Gallup’s latest report State of Global Workplace. The voice of the world’s employees reflects a reality that is often overlooked: happiness in the workplace is a crucial element for the success of companies. According to the report, companies with a high level of employee well-being record 21% more productivity, 22% more profitability and higher customer satisfaction with a greater competitive advantage on the market. Data that clash with a different reality where 20% of employees globally, which rises to 25% in Italy, are pervaded by a feeling of loneliness and sadness.

For this reason, companies have been investing for some time in programs that can help create a positive and engaging work environment, as Carlo Majer and Edgardo Ratti, co-managing partners of Littler Italia, observe: “The data from this research confirm how aspects related to health and well-being are increasingly at the top of the interests of companies that have understood how happiness in the company contributes to the success of the organization, allocating more and more resources to policies aimed at creating a more harmonious and productive work environment. Also as a lever to attract and retain talent. A cultural transformation guided by the awareness that a healthy and supportive work environment not only improves the quality of life of employees, but also strengthens leadership within the organization and helps bring out the skills of individual resources. And to inspire this change, the teachings of great thinkers and philosophers offer precious tools to stimulate critical reflection, ethical management and personal growth. Philosophical thinking helps leaders of every organization, including managers, to develop a broader and deeper vision of human dynamics, promoting more thoughtful and fair decisions. This approach is also a winning one in the company, allowing managers to better understand the motivations and needs of the organization, fostering a climate of trust and collaboration among workers”.

Physical activities, psychological support and work-life balance are some of the services that companies choose to offer their employees and that can make a big difference. «According to a recent survey by Wellable, 64% of companies increased investments in workplace wellness initiatives in 2023 – reports Stefano Brigli Bongi, co-founder of Kampaay, an innovative platform for corporate events -. Despite the growing efforts and investments in wellness initiatives, the disappointing results push us to reflect on how we are facing this challenge. It is clear that there are no simple or universal solutions, but I believe that the starting point must be a more careful listening to people to provide more personalized answers. Only in this way can we develop effective and meaningful initiatives. For us at Kampaay, technology can be a precious ally in this process, simplifying operations and freeing up precious resources, which can focus on the creation of strategies and projects based on the needs of individuals and individual teams”.

The future of work will be increasingly oriented towards the valorization of human capital. Companies must recognize that the well-being and mental health of employees can represent a strategic investment for the entire organization. In addition to the data released by Gallup, a recent study conducted by Goodhabitz together with Markteffect (2023) also highlights how employee stress is increasingly increasing, with percentages that reach 59% on a global scale and 46% on a national scale, which is associated with a consequent disinvestment of employees in their work. 58% of the participants in the survey conducted by Goodhabitz and Markteffect perceive mental health as a priority in the workplace while 55% of workers feel uncomfortable talking about mental health problems within their work context. «Working in a comfortable environment where the professional feels welcomed in the possibility of talking about his mental well-being, both by colleagues and by his employer, becomes reassuring, puts the employee in a position of open communication and relational, creates a climate of trust and security, promotes the bond of affiliation and the sense of belonging, therefore generates a state of satisfaction that the employee also takes home, in his intimate context, he feels more motivated to carry out his task and the stress levels are reduced – confirms Michela Romano, psychotherapist of Santagostino Psiche – A worker feels stressed when he has the perception of not being able to share his emotional experience, the efforts he encounters in completing a task, of not having the support of colleagues and the boss; he is stressed if the workload required is greater than the time to complete it, is not congruent in comparison to his professional and transversal skills; he is stressed if he feels cognitively overloaded. An accumulation of stress that drags on over time and is not addressed leads to symptoms of professional burnout with psycho-physical exhaustion, depersonalization, altered sleep, decreased motivation, agitation, irritability and possible depressive symptoms”.

The characteristics of the environment also have a significant influence on the cognitive, physical and emotional aspects of employees, as the latest evidence-based research in the area of ​​environmental psychology supports. “A space designed according to the needs of employees, which has its own corporate identity but which gives the perception of control, privacy, security and a good degree of restorativeness reduces stress, improves the quality of life of those who live there and motivates the professional to do his best”, Romano underlines.

But in this scenario Valentina Ragno, an international master of the Grinberg Method and creator of the first Stay Human embodiment, a festival that will be held in Milan in the fall, observes how «in Italy there is still a stigma in talking about workers’ mental health, unlike what happens in Anglo-Saxon countries or in Europe. There, correctly, employee well-being is now also a metric of corporate profitability. This is why the D.EM.A. project was born and above all why in the space of a few weeks it has received such enthusiastic support from very large companies. The mind-body connection is central, even in corporate training. One of the most suitable tools is training on embodiment aimed at the corporate world, which is gradually becoming convinced of its central role in strengthening empathic leadership, improving cooperative communication and conflict management, aiming at the well-being of collaborators and rediscovering the meaning of work. The future passes through the nodal rediscovery of the mind-body connection. Let’s start this new revolution».