There are many organisations worried about stress amongst their employees, but what are they doing about it? They have realised that mental health is as important as physical health and recognise that they have some responsibility for this. So they introduce a “wellness” programme with counselling services, yoga classes, healthy food in the cafeteria and subsidised gym membership.

All these provisions are aimed at addressing the symptoms of stress. None of them are addressing the cause.

One of the main sources of stress is overwork. This is usually in the form of long hours and tight deadlines, overflowing email inboxes and urgent messages. It is also cause by the ‘always-on’, ’24/7′ work routine coupled with a crippling meetings schedule.

Is your organisation just dealing with the symptoms or are you addressing the causes?

One obvious way to reduce the source of stress is to address the ‘long hours’ culture. If you are guilty of boasting about how late you worked last week or how much you got done at the weekend on top of your regular work week, then maybe you are adding to the stress, If you make sarcastic comments about people leaving early when they pack up and leave the office at 5pm then you could be contributing.

But if you are a good manager and are rewarding people for getting results, then you will be encouraging them not to work long hours. The smart employee is the one who gets the work done in the shortest time and gets home in time to put the children to bed. So let’s get rid of presenteeism, being seen in the office at all hours, and let’s encourage people to work whenever and wherever they choose. They can manage the balance between home and work and reduce stress in the process.

It’s “S for Stress” week in the WiseWork alphabet. Are you reducing stress or just playing with the symptoms?