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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.

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 the 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 labor is relatively cheap to replace, replacing knowledge workers is a much slower process. Consequently, the cost of work-related depression in Europe was estimated to be €617 billion annually. In the USA, job stress alone is estimated to cost companies $300 billion a year.

As more and more companies realize that the human component is the key to success, the role and transformation of Human Resource Management into Human Capital Management becomes more profound. 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, the key to success in this also requires tackling the work stress-related issues at the individual and organizational levels.

One of the key elements is psychological safety – i.e., feeling that you are not in danger of being punished if you make a mistake. Indeed, this is also a feature that the 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 can boost productivity and reduce cost in employee turnover

HOW can we help?

Mad@Work -project aims to develop novel Human Capital Management solutions for workplaces, which will help reduce the stressors in the work context and build 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. They do not identify or decrease the actual stressors, such as constant overload, environmental discomfort, etc. Applying these can help companies and individuals in the short term but will not last nor create an environment that supports high productivity. Also, existing technologies for stress detection have been developed in relatively 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 thrive, and individuals flourish, and pave the way for mentally healthy future work where people throw up their arms, not in frustration and anger but inspiration and excitement!

Project Leader

Elena Vildjiounaite
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd., Finland


  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Republic of Korea
  • Portugal
  • Spain