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A gadget for companies to measure employee stress

Posting in Technology
In case kicking the cat wasn't a sure enough sign for your employer that you've been under a little too much pressure lately, then just spit into a portable medical device from Dutch/German company Qiagen to confirm your state of mind and get a few days off of work.

According to the BBC, the contraption, which looks to be the size of an old telephone answering machine (see photo on the BBC page) can detect hormones - mainly cortisol -  that indicate stress.  Put some saliva on a card, insert into the device, and your company can instantly determine whether you're officially too wound up. Under older conventional methods, the process takes much longer.

"We can now measure employee stress levels using a portable saliva testing machine that can give us an accurate reading in minutes, rather than hours in a laboratory," says Joe Dunbar, director of operations for IPRO Interactive, a British health diagnostics provider.

Qiagen is also adapting the device to monitor diseases such as tuberculosis, helping companies with international and mobile workforces.

Chances are you won't use the machine at home, as it costs about $2,400. 

But widespread corporate use could save the global economy billions in health care costs. According to the story, which sites the 2013 CBI/Pfizer Fit for Purpose Survey, Britain alone incurs £14 billion ($23 billion) covering sick leave, with most absences related to stress, anxiety and depression. It's a vicious circle, because high stress weakens the immune system and leads to other illnesses.

The idea is to use the machine to monitor stress build-up and take preventive measures.

"Once we know what an employee's stress level is we can then put interventions in place, from encouraging more exercise to changing work patterns," Dunbar tells the BBC.

Felines of the world, rejoice!

Cover photo is from UrbaneWomenMag

— By on January 8, 2014, 5:14 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure