The 2012/01/12 at 06:50
Over one European employee out of five claims to suffer from health problems related to stress in the workplace, according to the INRS (Institut National de la Recherche et de la Sécurité or French National Institute for Res-earch and Safety). Feeling overwhelm-ed, a lack of recognition… stress has an influence on individuals and the life of a company. Set up in 1989 by psychiatrist Patrick Légeron, the Stimulus firm uses its expertise to serve professionals.
“Our first client was the RATP,” indicates Adrien Chignard, a Consultant at Stimulus and a Business and Organ-isational Psychologist. “The management noticed the unease of drivers in the face of increasingly difficult passenger behaviour.” At that time, the notion of psychosocial risks in the workplace was still a little-known concept. But from 2007-2008 onwards, the theme has gained more visibility. Following a wave of suicides at France Télécom and the Technocentre Renault in Guyancourt (Yvelines), Xavier Darcos, then French Minister of Employment, launched an emergency plan. The objective: to force companies with over 1,000 employees to open up negotiations on stress prevention at work and to implement concrete initiatives.
Stimulus sets out to follow a global approach, paying attention to health in the workplace in order to lead towards “a genuine policy for prevention of psychological suffering.” Philippe Grosskost, CEO of Stimulus, explains:“We intervene on a number of levels. First of all by identifying risk factors, finding solutions for reducing them, and acting during tense situations.” The method is based on a scientific approach validated by a Scientific Committee made up of recognised experts from a number of disciplines (social sciences, organisations and management, psychology, medical science). Specific tools enable the firm’s consultants to identify stress. Psychosocial risk factors may thus arise from a lack of clarity in roles, work overload, problematic relationships within the company…
Symptoms to be taken into consideration may come in the form of absenteeism, a high turnover, a loss in quality of production, conflicts, or even isolation. “For every intervention, we take care to involve all protagonists in the company,” specifies Adrien Chignard. “To be effective, an action plan should be consultative.” In concrete terms, Stimulus begins by giving an anonymous questionnaire to employees, who then meet the firm’s consultants. For SMEs, awareness-raising days are organised to set up an equal-representation steering committee. The results of the questionnaire allow Stimulus to offer concrete and pragmatic solutions. “We aim to give businesses autonomy in their psychosocial risk management,” underlines Philippe Grosskost. Stimulus supports the implementation of programmes, provides follow-up, and can offer assistance on-site or elsewhere to preserve the confidentiality of employees.
Stimulus intervenes in all sectors, particularly industry and services. With 99 % of its body of consultants made up by business psychologists and clinicians, all holding experience in the world of business, the firm has the capacity to mobilise over 80 experts. “Our inter-ventions are gaining in credibility,”says Philippe Grosskost. “And we are involved in the diffusion of knowledge: some of our consultants also teach.”
The company is also a founding member of the Fédération des Interven-ants en Risques Psychosociaux (FIRPS or Federation of Psychosocial Risk Professionals). “More and more SMEs contact us,” adds the CEO. “A total of 77,000 employees have answered our questionnaire.” These figures are not necessarily indicative of a more oppressive professional universe: “Today, work is more ‘mentalised’ with the omnipresence of computers or else pressure from the crisis,” declares Adrien Chignard. “It is the sources of stress that have evolved.” So to meet the new deal of psychosocial cards, Stimulas envisages developing its skills by supporting clients overseas, and setting up partnerships with other countries.