Otto Group invests in stress prevention

30.01.2013 | Hamburg

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The results of the ‘Stressreport 2012’ presented on 29 January, 2013 in Berlin reveal that an increasing number of employees are suffering from stress in the workplace. The Otto Group has already been investing for years in a long-term operational health-management system, in order to identify stress-related illnesses among employees in good time and to implement preventative measures.

There has been a disproportionate increase in stress-related illnesses such as anxiety, sleeplessness, depression and burnout among employees in Germany over recent years. This is the finding of the ‘Stressreport 2012’ published by the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health which Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen presented in Berlin on 29 January, 2013. While discussions are still going on in the German capital about whether binding legislation is needed or whether improved implementation of existing measures is the best way forward, the Hamburg-based retail and services group – the Otto Group – has been investing in a long-term operational health-management system for years.

Among its many activities in this area, every year since 2010 the company has compiled a scientifically-based ‘Health Index’ for the entire OTTO workforce based on an anonymous employee survey. This unique tool reveals where action is required, both in the employee’s professional and personal life, and where preventative measures need to be taken. “We will start compiling the next Health Index at the end of February. It will tell us how our employees’ wellbeing and performance compare to the year before. The Health Index shows us where we can take action as an employer, to offer timely and preventative support”, explains Karsten von Rabenau, Head of the operational health-management system

In December, the Otto Group was awarded the Corporate Health Award under the auspices of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in recognition of its efforts in long-term operational health management. “The Otto Group understands health as more than just the absence of illness. We’re pursuing a interdisciplinary approach where the Works Doctor service, social counselling, occupational health and safety, and health promotion work together in an integrative way to promote the physical, mental and social wellbeing of our employees”, says Karsten von Rabenau.

And staff genuinely appreciate this effort. Our company’s own fitness studio, the ‘TK Fitness Lounge’ which the Otto Group in Hamburg runs in collaboration with the health insurer Techniker Krankenkasse, now has over 900 active members. Over 30 company sports courses ranging from badminton, triathlon and Zumba to physiotherapeutic and osteopathic offerings ensure that employees can stay fit and productive on the job.

Employees can also turn to the Hamburg Campus where they can discuss their personal problems in complete confidence at psychological consultations. “Since 2004, demand for psychological advice has risen by 20 percent each year at our company”, reports Karsten von Rabenau, adding that “whereas eight years ago, the main topics were back complaints and cardiovascular diseases, now one in every six comes because they need psychological support.” This is why OTTO established its own psychotherapeutic advice centre in cooperation with the Asklepios Klinik.

In addition to these measures, the Otto Group offers an extensive health-orientated seminar, workshop and presentation offering at its Hamburg location. Here, the company works with doctors, teachers, academics and psychiatrists, such as renowned burnout expert Dr Hans-Peter Unger, Head Physician at the Centre for Mental Health at the Asklepios Klinik in Hamburg-Harburg, who gives presentations on burnout prevention. At the internal ‘Burnout and Addiction’ seminar, for instance, managers learn how to spot the signs of burnout and addiction among their staff and to help them tackle the causes. Last year, employees were offered almost 400 health seminars.

Since July 2012, OTTO employees have also been free to take advantage of an extensive health check. Many hundreds of employees have already had their health checked and now know how to keep fit and healthy. “This year, we’ll be able to offer up to 400 health checks”, says a delighted Karsten von Rabenau.

That said, advice centres, an extensive sports offering and training courses alone are not enough to protect staff against stress-related illnesses such as sleeplessness, depression or even burnout. “A corporate culture based on partnership also needs to prevail, which – like sports, exercise and healthy eating – has a stress-reducing impact”, emphasises Karsten von Rabenau.

For further information on the ‘Health Index’ at OTTO, visit:

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Mitarbeiterin beim Training
Mitarbeiterin beim Training
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Mitarbeiterin beim Training mit Coach
Mitarbeiterin beim Training mit Coach
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TK Fitness Lounge Panorama
TK Fitness Lounge Panorama
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Otto Group

Founded in Germany in 1949, today the Otto Group is a globally operating retail and services group with approximately 54,000 employees. The Group includes 123 major companies and is present in over 20 countries in Europe, North and South America and Asia. Its business activities are grouped into three segments: Multichannel Retail, Financial Services and Service. In the 2014/15 financial year (to 28 February) the Otto Group generated revenue of 12.1 billion euros. It is the world’s second-largest online retailer in the end-consumer (B2C) business and Europe’s largest online retailer for B2C fashion and lifestyle. E-commerce, catalogue sales and over-the-counter retail form the three pillars of the Otto Group’s Multichannel Retail strategy. Its worldwide corporate activities, numerous strategic partnerships and joint ventures provide the Otto Group with excellent opportunities to transfer know-how and leverage areas of synergy potential. Group companies operate largely independently, guaranteeing flexibility, customer proximity and optimum target-group appeal in their respective national markets.

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