🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

Stress relief at work

Marketplace Staff Apr 27, 2007

Stress relief at work

Marketplace Staff Apr 27, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: It turns out April is National Stress Month. Maybe because this is national tax month, too. I dunno. And the weather’s getting nicer. So we’d all really rather be anywhere than stuck in the office. Some of us pay for special pampering on our days off. Maybe a massage or some other treat.

Cash Peters tells us some companies are trying to de-stress you right at your desk.

CASH PETERS: It’s a brilliantly simple idea. The MobileSpa people go around giving 15-minute massages to stressed-out office workers. Basically, they identified a need and they kneaded it. Erin Muir.

ERIN MUIR: Stress can be harmful. Stress can cause disease. Sometimes people just need to take that five, 10 minutes just to clear their minds, and they can go back to their desk with renewed focus.

Personally I find that not showing up to the office at all works just as well. But Oversee.net got the point. As a busy, online marketing company, they’ve adopted this weird, revolutionary policy of — and honk if you understand this — making the workplace fun and relaxed for their employees. What?

Frank Nelson is their VP of HR.

FRANK NELSON: We have a game room, so we have pool and darts and foosball and so on. So we have various ways to release the stress around here. It’s definitely a fast-moving company. There is a lot of stress. And, you know, at the end of the day we do care.

Hmm. Not only that, but in addition to the foosball and the drinks and the other free stuff, they hire MobileSpa to come in once a month and massage any worker that wants it. I tried it myself. . . . And frankly, I’d rather be stressed.

But the Oversee workers, they love it, they really do.

NELSON: It’s one of the favorite activities of the employees.

PETERS: Well, of course, because it’s bunking off.

NELSON: Exactly.

NINA GASS: This is a forward-thinking company. They definitely understand that you have to have fun. And then you get more work out of them at the same time.

PETERS: But if you worked here, you’d just go for the fun right? I’d be eating, I’d be playing pool, I’d be having all the free massages I can get. But I’d never work.

GASS: They just think of it . . . If you are going to do this for me, then I am going to work for you.

Wow, how great — that’s Nina Gass of MobileSpa — but I mean, how great is that?

MUIR: OK, before I begin this massage, is there anywhere you have tension, anywhere you’d like me to spend extra time.

JOE HIGGINS: No, just do your thing.

Joe Higgins, one of their account managers, getting what’s coming to him there. But here’s what I don’t understand. Aren’t corporations supposed to be our evil, faceless overlords? Or am I out of touch? By being easy on employees and letting them take breaks all the time, aren’t we just breeding a nation of slackers? Reassure me, Nina Gass.

GASS: You’re looking at work the way things used to be. But now, because of technology . . .

PETERS: And because people are lazy.

GASS: . . . and people drive in their cars all the time and they sit everywhere that they go . . .

PETERS: And because they’re lazy. Not to put words in your mouth.

GASS: It’s not being too easy on people. Because we’re asking more and more of employees. Let’s work 24/7. Let me contact you on the weekend. Let me take up all your personal time. And I think in this respect, here’s a company who’s trying to give some of that personal time back.

HIGGINS: It’s also the thought that the company thinks of its workforce enough to provide this.

PETERS: You see, I’d be just so psyched up if they gave me a free Diet Coke, I’d work ’til midnight for them.

HIGGINS: And, you know, so I work ’til 2 a.m. for them, you know?

GASS: You feel more positive. It might make you feel like working longer as well.

PETERS: You just want people to work ’til midnight.

GASS: I do. I want people to work all the time, so they hire us.

PETERS: Is it a bribe?

HIGGINS: No, absolutely not.

PETERS: What would happen if they took it away?

HIGGINS: I think that if they just took it all away, I’d probably go look for a different job.

Yeah, that’s the spirit. But treat one employee well and, I’m telling ya, they’ll all want it. It’s a slippery slope. Another Oversee worker, Lisa Carter.

LISA CARTER: Absolutely, I definitely think you could see this happening more and more.

PETERS: Just suppose that another company comes along and says, “You know what we have. We have a pool table. We have free drinks and snacks. We have massages and you can get your toenails done. Come and work for us. Can you be bought that easily?


PETERS: Toe nails done and pizza and beer on Fridays.

CARTER: No, you see, that’s not enough.

PETERS: And a bouncy castle in reception. . . . I’m getting close aren’t I?


Rats. Anyway, the staff’s in heaven.

PETERS: Is this working?

NELSON: It’s working fantastic.

So, it’s obviously the wave of the future. As Frank, their VP of HR, reminds us . . .

NELSON: I do feel like it’s going to become a greater part of corporate environments rather than a smaller part.

Oh. good. I can’t wait ’til they do it at our office here on the show . . .

PETERS: Ow. OOOOOWWWW! Aagh. Ow ow ow ow ow.

You know what, maybe I can.

In L.A., I’m C.P for M.P.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.