ACE 2013 - Taking an evidence-based approach to workplace stress & resilience

Stephany Carolan, CEO WorkGuru

workguruWe know from the recently published CIPD report Employee Outlook: Focus on employee well-being that stress continues to be a problem in our workplaces. Just under half of employees surveyed said that they have seen an increase in stress over the past year, and that 16% said that they felt under pressure every day.

Some employers recognise the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace but are unsure how to tackle it. Approaches seem to veer from feel-good interventions such as head massage and aromatherapy, to training that focuses on awareness raising and anti stigma. All good stuff, but with no evidence that it will lead to an increase in work-force effectiveness and resilience and a reduction in experiences of negative stress.

At WorkGuru we provide a bridge between academic research and the workplace; translating what science tells us works into interactive, engaging, personal development exercises which help us all to learn about the things we can be doing to keep ourselves mentally resilient and well.

The three main evidence-based approaches we use are:

Positive Psychology
Positive psychology focuses on identifying behaviours that allow people to thrive. Research has shown that happier employees – employees with higher levels of positive emotion, score more highly across all performance indicators (Marks 2006 CIPD research) including productivity (Judge et al 2001).

WorkGuru incorporates a number of approaches that positive psychology has shown help to cultivate positive emotions. These include our module on happiness, which contains exercises designed to boost long-term happiness; help to identify individual values and strengths, and our module on Mindfulness.

Mindfulness Based Approaches
Mindfulness Based Approaches (MBA) describes a combination of ancient Buddhist practice and philosophy with current psychological understanding and knowledge. There is a strong evidence-base that MBA can teach people the practical skills needed to help them cope with both physical and psychological problems and enable them to build their resilience and manage their stress more effectively (for more information see here).

WorkGuru provides a module on Mindfulness that contains a number of exercises and 3 guided meditations for you to download. The module is intended as a taster, giving you the information you need to begin your own Mindfulness practice.

Work-Focused CBT
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) has a strong evidence base for the treatment and management of people with depression and anxiety, this includes evidence for the use of CBT in a work setting. Recent work by Lagerveld et al (2012) shows that work-focused CBT can achieve a full return to work from sick leave for people experiencing mental distress 65 days earlier than people receiving traditional CBT saving the employer as estimated $5,275 U.S. dollars.

At WorkGuru we incorporate work-focused CBT into our programme looking at thinking styles and automatic thoughts, as well as encouraging staff that may be on sick-leave to begin the process of planning their return to work.

We all know the things that we could be doing to keep physically healthy (eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep etc.), but we are not so clear about the things that we could be doing to keep mentally healthy. WorkGuru provides an on-line programme that combines scientific evidence on what works, with interactive engaging exercises, and expert support from our employment specialists. For more information visit our website or visit us at CIPD ACE 2013 stand no: 581 #CIPD13

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