Stress and burnout phenomena are among the most significant illness related cost drivers in Swiss companies.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) estimates that stress-related absenteeism, illness and occupational disability lead to an economic cost of CHF 4.2 billion per year.

A representative survey of the SECO (2010) among Swiss workers revealed that 34 % of all workers experience stress often or very often. This is an increase of 30 % compared to 10 years ago. In addition, 31 % note that their health is negatively affected by work, in 17 % through stress at work. This work related experience of stress is associated with bad general health, work resignation, and burnout. The experience of stress can directly affect subjective well-being.

Managerial and leadership problems as well as personal suffering put a strain on company culture and climate. Against this background, Health Promotion Switzerland and the Swiss Insurance Association (SVV) initiated the development of a stress survey instrument. This instrument was designed to provide organizations with an effective tool to depict the current situation within the organization, identify areas in which action is necessary, and monitor the impact of subsequently implemented measures.

Stress: Background Information

Stress is a subjectively experienced state of imbalance between demands (internal and/or external) and possible courses of action. This state of imbalance is personally significant and experienced as unpleasant. Aspects of the workplace which among most employees increase the likelihood of stress are called stressors (time pressure, conflicts, noise, etc.). The experience of work related stress depends on many aspects of work, work organization and the work environment.

Stress Symptoms

If stress events occur frequently or persist over time they may impose a serious health risk. A selection of typical stress symptoms are:

  • Physical: muscle tensions, digestive problems, headaches, cardiovascular complaints (increased blood pressure or heart rate), sleeping disorders
  • Mental: mental overload, irritability, nervousness, self doubt, anxiety, anger
  • Behavioral: forgetfulness, lack of concentration, problems in making decisions


However, not everyone faced with high levels of stressors at work develops stress symptoms. Resources which may be found both in the organization and in the person itself can reduce the impact of stressors and generally serve as a protective factor for one's health. People with adequate resources are able to deal with stressful situations in a positive way. Scope of action, advantageous behavior of superiors, and social support are key organizational resources. Personal resources include e.g. health, occupational skills, and personality traits such as self-esteem and optimism.

A person’s well-being depends to a considerable extent on the balance between potential stressors and individual resources, as well as the balance between work effort and work related reward (appreciation, job security, salary). A good balance of work and life supports the ability to cope with stress and promotes subjective well-being.

Coping with stress is increasingly becoming a core competence of each and every employee. However, stress management and prevention cannot solely rely on employees' behavior, but also has to address design of work conditions and organization of work tasks.

Further information on stress can be found on and For the results of the study of the SECO, go here: