By Daniel Hunter

A quarter of businesses do not offer counselling to help staff cope with stress, new research has revealed.

The results of the study, commissioned by PMI Health Group, follows the CIPD’s assertion that stress is now the number one cause of long-term absence.

“Clearly, this is a concern for businesses as they aim to reduce the number of staff on long-term sickness absence,” said PMI Health Group Compliance Director Mike Blake.

“Stress is the biggest cause of long-term absence in this country, so it is necessary to take appropriate steps to reduce its effect. Where services, such as counselling, are provided, it is imperative to clearly communicate this to both employees and their line managers. This helps to ensure that the services are properly accessed when required.

“Only by doing this can the problem be addressed at source to help improve performance, productivity, staff retention and attendance levels.”

Stress now accounts for 33 per cent of all long-term absence in non-manual jobs and 21 per cent in manual jobs, while 40 per cent of employers reported a rise in stress-related sick days during 2011.*

There are many tried and tested methods to ensure employees do not feel the strain at work, but here are some of the strangest ways employers around the world have tried to beat stress in the workplace:

· A brewery in Prague offers employees and visitors the chance to soak up their stress by providing a hot beer bath, allowing the beer’s sedating qualities to be absorbed into the blood stream!

· Internet giants Google and Yahoo both offer a massage service by a qualified masseuse whenever their employees are feeling the strain of working for such a high-profile brand.

· The Google office in Zurich has a relaxation room where employees can lie on massage chairs in a darkened room, lit only by an aquarium built into the wall.

· Russians are submerging their anxiety by being buried alive on their lunch break! Therapists insist that rather than causing an asphyxiating feeling, a calming effect is produced with employees left ‘at one with their mind’.

· Animal therapy is a booming business in Tokyo. With the lack of space available for animals, people are turning to hiring out ‘man’s best friend’ by the hour in offices to reduce stress levels. In Russia, one company even has a pet marmoset monkey!

· An American company employs a certified Laughter Yoga teacher to teach employees unconditional laughter with yogic breathing. It increases the amount of oxygen in the body, relieving tension and anxiety.

· A concierge is available at Infogain Corp. to help employees manage their personal life when work is getting too busy and stressful. The system assists in paying bills, travel arrangements and even shopping.

· Proctor and Gamble have installed ‘EnergyPods’ within their offices which allow employees to nap for an optimal time before being gently woken up by vibrations and softly played music - leaving the user reputedly rejuvenated and ready for more work.

· With tables made of hay and decorated as a wheat field, the ‘rustic retreat’ in the TripAdvisor office is a place where employees can go to unwind and escape from their heavy workload. It has proved so successful that another area of the office has now been dressed as a bamboo forest.

· After Milan-based clothing company, Comvert, turned an abandoned cinema into their office, a lot of empty space remained up in the circle area. This was, rather imaginatively, turned into a skatebowl for employees to use whenever they want during the day.

· All the walls in Taiwanese company, IPEVO, are made of dried grass lawns so the office is permeated with the smell of the great outdoors — employers claim that it has made the workplace a lot calmer since the grass was put into place.

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness