Mad@Work is a workplace wellbeing-centered project, with a goal to create means to measure physical & mental (dis)comfort, and tools that help to create better, productive conditions for knowledge work.

In any one year … one in six workers is likely to be suffering from a mental health condition.

At a tipping point? Workplace mental health and wellbeing (The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, 2017)

We are ever more stressed at work – WHY?

Our work life is changing rapidly. Globalization is ramping up competition and digitalization is transforming all but simplest manual labor into knowledge work. These changes don’t come without a price – and it seems that the price is paid in an increase of stress and resulting burn-outs. And while manual labour is relatively cheap to replace, replacing knowledge workers is much slower process. Consequently the cost of work-related depression in Europe was estimated to be €617 billion annually. In USA, job stress alone is estimated to cost companies $300 billion a year.

As more and more companies realise that the human component is the key to success, role and transformation of Human Resource Management into Human Capital Management becomes more profound. Already now many leading companies are working to build compelling employee experience. Typically this focuses on redesigning talent practices, from recruiting to leadership to performance management and lifelong learning support. However, a key to success in this requires also tackling the work stress-related issues both at individual and organisational level.

One of the key elements is psychological safety – i.e. feeling that you are not in danger being punished if you make a mistake. Indeed, this is also a feature that highest-performing teams have in common. Therefore, while psychological unsafety reduces resilience to challenges and makes workers more stress-prone, workplaces that can build up a supportive, safe and stress-reduced work environment for the work can see boost in productivity and reduced cost in employee turnover.

HOW can we help?

Mad@Work -project has a goal to develop novel Human Capital Management solutions for workplaces, that will help reducing the stressors in the work context, and in building safe, positive work environments.

While there are solutions to deal with stress at work, they focus only on individual level mitigation, e.g. via mindfulness exercises, and do not identify or decrease the actual stressors, such as constant overload, environmental discomfort, etc. Applying these can help companies and individuals in short term, but will not last nor create an environment that supports high productivity. In addition existing technologies for stress detection have been developed in rather short-term studies, and are not practical and/or mature enough for continuous, real life usage.

To overcome these shortcomings, Mad@Work will develop novel solutions to detect workplace problems and stress, convenient for long-term real life use. Pilots in real workplaces will be conducted to achieve project goals and to evaluate developed solutions.

Ultimately our goal is to support and mitigate the ongoing transformation, help companies to thrive and individuals to flourish – to pave way for mentally healthy future work where people throw up their arms, not in frustration and anger but in inspiration and excitement!


  • VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland (coordinator)
  • Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
  • Granlund Oy
  • Helvar Oy Ab
  • Hintsa Performance Oy
  • Martela Oyj
  • Nixu Oyj
  • TietoEVRY Oyj
  • UniqAir Oy

The Project