Victorinox – makers of the famous Swiss Army knife, place the welfare of their staff in high regard. On their website they refer to exercises from the Alexander Technique which are performed three times a day and have reduced illnesses caused by occupational injury by 40% since inception in 2002.
After helping a Victorinox employee suffering from repetitive strain injury, Alexander Teacher Priska Gauger-Schelbert received a call from the HR department of Victorinox inviting her to introduce the Alexander Technique to the staff at their production factory in Ibach, Switzerland.
After a successful introduction in one department in 2001, teaching of the Alexander Technique was broadened to include the whole company by 2006.
Employers incorporated ‘balance time’ three times a day with the aim of having time to pause and rethink reactions to situations, reduce tension patterns and recover before becoming exhausted. Prior to implementation, Victorinox employees suffered from a high level of shoulder, neck, arm and hand pain along with headaches believed secondary to the repetitive actions required to carry out their work. There was also a significant incidence of stress, including helplessness and vulnerability. The side effect of all this was absenteeism or employees needing to change to different jobs in the company.
After implementing the Alexander Technique, the helpless feeling about problems caused by repetitive strain injury was relieved along with the hours of absenteeism reduced from over 55,000 hours to less than 35,000 hours over 5 yrs.
This is an impressive statistic for businesses to consider with the increasing incidences of occupational stress and pain from the repetitive movements of sitting / standing/ bending/ lifting etc.