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De-Stressing At Work Using A Quiet Room

There was an article on quiet rooms in People Management magazine on the 29th November, explaining the benefits to be had from creating a little oasis of calm in the midst of your busy workplace; a space to which employees can retreat for a moment of peace.

Now, some readers may be tempted to dismiss this as a nice bit of seasonal fluff or ‘slow month page-filling’ or – when viewing the slideshow of fabulously well-appointed designer rooms; all soft furnishings and ambient lighting – to imagine that the CIPD is diversifying into interior design.  However, there may be something here that any business can take away and use.

According the Health & Safety Executive, there were 211,000 new cases of work-related stress reported in 2010-11 (making for a total of 400,000 cases overall). That’s a lot of stressed people. SMEs could expect to have around 1% of their employees off with stress at some point during the year. That may not sound like much, but that 1% will be away from the workplace for 27 days on average (adding up to 10.8 million days for the economy as a whole). Besides the true cost of stressed employees isn’t really the absence, it’s the impact on your business of the errors, lapses and missed deadlines that occur when stressed people push on regardless.

Perhaps it’s not so surprising that stress is now the number cause of long-term absence from the modern workplace? Competing priorities, impending deadlines, blaring telephones, pinging emails and a recession that demands everybody achieve more in less time with less resource. It may be that finding a small room or corner that could be designated as off-limits to ‘work talk’ could have a significant impact.

Driven by equality legislation, quiet rooms were originally provided for prayer and meeting the needs of certain faiths. But over time the use has widened and employers are starting to see the benefits of providing space for a short but peaceful break as a method of allowing employees to briefly step back from the relentless pressure of their day and ‘regroup’ before plunging back into the fray, returning to the desk/shop floor/workstation refreshed and ready to go again.

Workplace stress continues to cost the British economy (and businesses) millions upon millions of pounds per year; surely it’s worth considering anything that might lessen such profit-reducing losses in your business? And besides, it could finally stop the non-smokers complaining about time given for cigarette breaks!

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