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Top 3 Stress Models and Workplace Well-Being

white woman with blonde medium length hair and black glasses wearing a blue sweater sits in front of a Macbook with hands on her temples. Photo place to represent the commonality of corporate pressures and need to understand stress models so you can better support your team and create a safe workplace that prioritizes well-beingWinston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Since the beginning of human history, the world has endured and overcome many hardships. It is evident that there are adversities and challenges in life that are unavoidable. Especially in today’s corporate world, it is difficult to manage and conquer the stress that this modern working culture produces. Over the centuries, many psychologists and researchers have theorized ways to overcome these tensions. Although there is not a straight answer that resolves these pressures, there are several methods that have been found to reduce and diminish stress. In this blog, we will be sharing three of the most popular stress models and how you can apply their methods to improve workplace well-being in your organization. 

Stress Models

This blog may be a bit more “scientific” than others in our Workplace Well-being series. However, we firmly believe the best way to prevent stress is to understand stress!

We hope by providing you with different theories and perspectives on how stress works you’ll be able to better understand your and your team’s own experiences with work-life balance. Plus, implementing these well-being and stress management tactics, can help you to better retain talent by creating a healthy workplace people won’t want to leave!

Stress Model 1: The JD-R Model

One of the most well-known and commonly used stress models is the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model, which was developed by researchers Arnold Bakker and Evangelia Demerouti in 2006. Essentially,

The JD-R stress model is used to analyze how the work environment affects well-being and performance.

JD-R Stress Model Example: Orange Scale balanced with job demands on one side and job resources on the other resulting in lower levels of stress and chances of burnoutThis model theorizes that every individual has a set of job demands and resources. Job demands are the physical or mental stressors that are present at work. These demands include a heavy workload, poor relationships, time pressures, and role ambiguity. On the other hand, job resources are organizational, social, and physical factors that help meet demands and lower stress. Examples of job resources include autonomy, strong relationships, opportunities for development, microbreaks, and more.

When demands outweigh resources, high stress and burnout are likely to occur. When resources are equally balanced with demands then we typically see lower levels of stress, fatigue, and increased reports of job satisfaction. 

The JD-R Model in the Workplace

To attain this balance among your employees, you can offer job resources such as microbreaks, mentorship programs, snacks, coffee, or flexible work arrangements.

An important consideration with job resources is equity. It is important to understand that not all employees will have the job and non-work demands. Be aware of the diversity within your organization and find ways to bring inclusive and accessible resources to the workplace.

Want more information on diversity, equity, and inclusion? Check out our D&I series here.

Stress Model 2: The COR Model

Another popular stress model is the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory which was developed by researcher Dr. Stevan E. Hobfoll in 1989. This theory analyzes the physiological stress reactions that are due to innate survival responses that motivate individuals to both maintain their current resources and pursue new resources. 

The COR stress model illustrates that those with great resources are more resilient to stress responses.

The COR Model in the Workplace

Similar to the JD-R model, this theory emphasizes the importance of job resources and how one uses them. As an employer, it is vital to ensure that your employees have access to resources and encourage them to use and provide feedback on them to avoid potential burnout.

Implementing the COR model in the workplace means reflecting and possibly shifting your culture. Consider asking yourself, is it easy for my team to find the tools or support they need? Is taking time off difficult to do or frowned upon? Is it easy or comfortable for my employees to express what they need or what’s valuable to them?

Stress Model 3: The ART Model – Attention Restoration Theory

Last up is the Attention Restoration Theory (ART) developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the 1980s. 

The ART model examines how exposure to nature (both direct and indirect) improves focus and fatigue.

This theory analyzes how the natural environment restores, rejuvenates, and keeps us healthier. 

Stress models in action: ART Model - photo from the Hire Ventures Instagram that shows 5 of their team members on a trial for a team hikeThe ART Model in the Workplace

We have a few ideas for how you can implement ART into your organization:

  • Plan a team hike – We strive to gather our team once each quarter to explore our local trails!
  • Add plants around the office – They could be real or small fake succulents. If you are a remote company, consider hosting a virtual planting event.
  • Don’t have a budget? You can easily send encouragement for remote workers to decorate their space on their own. In fact, this could be a super fun team challenge and a way to connect your virtual team. Send out information and resources on ART and invite your team members to share photos of how they are incorporating it into their workspace or work routine.
  • Provide a 5-10 minute microbreak during the day and encourage employees to use that time to take a step outside.

For more specific ART tools and strategies, you’ll want to check out this Tips to Reduce Workplace Stress blog!

Moving Forward with Workplace Well-being

As an employer, it can be difficult to manage the balance between the demands you expect from your employees and the resources you make available to them. We hope exploring these stress models helped provide you with effective solutions that can help ensure the well-being of your team.

For more tips, best practices, and resources for supporting workplace well-being (for employees and employers alike), subscribe to our blog. You won’t want to miss a single post from our Workplace Well-being blog series!


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