Key topics

Mental health

Stress & work-life balance: when it becomes too much

The calendar is full, the phone never stops ringing, orders pile up, the boss is unhappy and then your child comes down with a virus.

Confronted with both professional and private issues can cause stress. For a limited period of time, stress can have a positive effect; it can ignite energy and motivates us to achieve maximum performance – so-called eustress. However, if you don’t feel up to the task or repeatedly overloaded, stress will be perceived negatively – also known as distress.

The most frequent stress factors at work are excessive workload, time pressure, constant interruptions and lack of recognition. In addition, there is the challenge of reconciling work and family. That this has long-term negative consequences for health is no surprise: exhaustion, sleep disorders, nervousness, depressed moods through to burnout are typical consequences of chronic stress. But tension, back, head and stomach pain, migraine, a weakened immune system and the risk of a heart attack are also promoted by chronic stress.

Stress is therefore a central aspect of health service management in the workplace: How can potential stress factors be reduced and resources for the employees be developed? A family friendly HR policy also plays a role. Bertelsmann offers many options – be it individualized working time models (e.g. part-time), more flexible work place options such as home office days, as well as day care and counseling services. In the specialization area on this page you will find concrete tips for stress management.

Continue reading

Addiction at the workplace: a well-known problem

Again and again people fall into substance addiction with alcohol, nicotine, legal and illegal drugs (substance-related dependency).

Others develop gambling problems, internet and media addictions or eating disorders (substance-independent dependency). While smoking and alcoholism are the most common and quickly detectable addictions in the workplace, other forms of addiction (mostly substance-independent dependency) often remain undetected.

Around 10% of all gainfully employed persons in Germany consume addictive substances in an abusive manner - and the trend is rising. International figures from the US and Europe also show that alcohol and drugs are a serious problem for a considerable part of the working population (5% to even 20%). In addition, those on sick leave for drug abuse are, on average, three times as incapacitated for work as workers who are absent for other reasons (Badura et al. 2013). Addiction at work causes not only personal suffering but also considerable economic damage: These employees are absent more frequently, productivity and quality are usually lower, the risk of accidents for oneself and other colleagues increases, and the working environment suffers.

Addiction is usually associated with anxiety and shame. For the companies however, an open approach is helpful rather than looking away and ignoring possible consequences - especially as employers are legally obliged to ensure occupational safety. If there is a suspicion of drug abuse, the person concerned should be approached directly. It is important to set clear rules and limits, but also to act sensitively and offer support and resources, e.g. in-house social counseling services.

Continue reading

Conflict & mobbing: when colleagues become enemies

When dealing with one another, people will always have disagreements and disputes. But if hostilities, teasing and conflict become the norm, the risk of mobbing increases:

permanent, targeted harassment or discrimination against employees. Such unresolved conflicts cost time and money: they impede creativity and motivation, cause employee absence and inhibit productive cooperation, which in turn affects overall operational results.

Dealing properly with conflict must be learned. It is the responsibility of leadership to proactively address conflict. In-house social counseling services can help to resolve team conflicts or between individual employees. External mediators or supervisors can also be consulted to professionally assist the conflicting parties in identifying compromises and developing binding conflict agreements or solutions through direct dialogue.

Constructive handling of conflict enables development processes that are beneficial to individuals, teams and the entire company. However, it is even better to prevent conflicts – e.g. through clear goals and structures, participation opportunities for employees and an open and appreciative communication culture promoting a sense of community rather than competition.

Continue reading

Further information

Looking for support?