Postdate: 12 December 2017
Psychological complaints are by far the biggest cause of absenteeism. Stress at work is occupational disease number one: 36% of work-related psychological absenteeism is caused by work stress (TNO, 2017). Stress related physical complaints, thus physical complaints without a medical cause can be added to them. Headache and backpain, but also stomach and intestine problems, and high susceptibility of illnesses are often a sign of too much stress. According to the Dutch union of occupational physicians (NVAB, 2017) more than half of absenteeism does not have a medical cause.
Not only does the number of absenteeism caused by stress increase, but also the average duration of absenteeism also increases. An employee with a burn-out is now absent for an average of 242 days (ArboNed, 2016). An average day of absence costs 250 euro: reason enough to take measures against psychological absenteeism.
Health apps and wearables are gaining ground on the work floor. Sports and exercise-apps like FitBIt and Strava challenge people to become more active and are often offered by the employer. The usage of apps on basis of psychological interventions and behavioural sciences stays behind, despite the fact that psychological complaints cause the most absenteeism in the workplace. However, attention for psychological fitness, happiness on the work floor and sustainable employability is increasing. Employers recognise that investing in mental and physical health through behavioural change pays back. Research from economists from Harvard show that every dollar invested in ‘corporate wellness’ can deliver up to 3 dollars in return (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2016). More scientific research shows that physical and mental health provides more motivation, higher productivity and less absenteeism. Add to that the positive effects of good employment practices. What is available in the area of apps that stimulate mental health and work on physical health through behavioural change? Here we made a selection of a number of apps that are currently available in and outside the country.
Breathe2relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information about the effects of stress on your body. The app gives instructions and teaches its users to reduce stress through means of diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing techniques are proven methods to stabilise your mood, to control anger and fear, and to minimalize flight or fight mechanisms. Breathe2relax can be used on its own or as part of medical care.
Happify is a mental health-app which works with activities and games to reduce stress and fear. If you feel stressed, or have fears, Happify gives you effective tools and programs to gain control of your emotional wellbeing. The techniques are developed by prominent scientists and experts that have been studying evidence-based interventions on the area of positive psychology, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy for decades. Happify is now only available in English.
With Dacadoo you keep track of your real-time so called Health Score. It ensures that employees actively work on their own health. Your Dacadoo Health Score goes up or down depending on your body measurements, emotional well-being and life style choices, like the degree of exercise, what you eat an how you sleep. Dacadoo uses techniques from behavioural science and gaming. You can join corporate challenges, stay in touch in groups and earn points. Dacadoo also gives personal feedback to keep you motivated. The employer gains insight into the overall Health Score, but also for example in the favourite activities and the degree of usage.
The Tsuru app is a personal, digital lifestyle coach for employers focused on behavioural change. Employees are given tools to take charge over their own mental and physical health. This is done by providing insight in behaviour, and by teaching employees rs to make healthy decisions. Tsuru is unique because they start with determining the users personality in combination with lifestyle pattern. Depending on your profile you receive daily personalised challenges on the area of behaviour, exercise, diet, sleep, stress and motivation These are simple challenges that you can easily fit in your daily life. Every challenge is accompanied by a relevant blog with inspiring and clarifying background information.
With the Tsuru dashboard the employer gains real-time insight in, among other things, the degree of stress, motivation and wellbeing of employees. These data can be viewed per department, establishment or other preferred selection and are fully anonymous. Tsuru has, together with a group of medical specialists and scientists, been investing in the development of a model based on algorithms for more than four years. Both the profiling as the coaching program of Tsuru are based on the techniques used in psychotherapeutic settings.