The pandemic has caused serious mental health issues across the world. It has heightened a slew of negative emotions in employees, like stress, anxiety, uncertainty, and depression resulting from not knowing what the future holds.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 42 % of employees globally have reported a decline in mental health.
As many as 200 million workdays are estimated to be lost due to mental health issues each year.
According to WHO, the global economy loses $1 trillion annually due to depression and anxiety.
Mental health & safety in the workplace is a priority for businesses in post covid recovery.
Causes of Mental Health Issues at Work
1. Negative working environment
2. Bullying & harassment
3. Juggling multiple responsibilities
4. Unclear tasks
5. Unclear policies
6. Low level of support
7. Inflexible working hours
8. Lack of acknowledgment & appreciation
9. Low control over one’s area of work
10. Low pay & financial pressure
11. Job insecurity
12. Lack of work-life balance
13. Lack of career growth
14. Inadequate health and safety policies.
15. Poor communication practices
16. Low sense of connection
17. Stigma & Discrimination
18. Performance Pressure
Mental Health Issues Can Result In
1. Difficulty in concentration
2. Poor performance
3. Lack of productivity
4. Lack of engagement
5. Physical health issues
6. Increased absenteeism
8. Decrease in communication with coworkers
9. Problem in daily functioning
10. Lack of motivation & interest
Guidelines for Creating a Healthy & Happy Work Environment
A healthy work environment is where employees feel motivated, valued, comfortable, and safe. And get opportunities for growth. A negative work environment can affect employees’ mental health resulting in high attrition and reduced corporate profit.
Organizations should value the mental and emotional well-being of their employees as their core assets and should include them in their diversity and inclusion strategies. Companies should focus on creating a psychologically supportive environment for workers. Here are the guidelines for creating a healthy work environment.
1. Provide Sustainable Ways of Working
Employers should provide more sustainable ways of working, and a critical component of it is offering flexibility. During a pandemic, the workers experienced remote work for the first time, and the return-to-office policy is causing stress to many employees as it disrupts the work-life balance. Companies should support their employees by offering them flexibility and a hybrid work model and should set clear policies for the same.
2. Develop Transparency
Transparency is critical for developing a healthy work culture. Transparency helps in creating trust among employees. To develop transparency, companies should promote open communication, be available to their employees, share with the employees both – the good and the bad news, and provide reasons for all the important decisions they take.
3. Empower your Employees
Empower your employees by communicating organizational goals clearly, and encouraging them to take on more responsibilities. Provide the necessary resources and technology required for the job, and organize training programs for building new skills. Identify your top performers and offer them growth opportunities. Companies should provide employees with whatever it takes to build success.
4. Encourage Collaboration
Encourage collaboration among employees to foster a sense of community. Collaboration also fosters learning, as employees with different skill sets and backgrounds communicate, collaborate, and work together.
5. Offer & Receive Feedback
Make feedback a two-way process. Regular feedback clearly tells employees what is expected of them and helps them perform even better. It gives them clarity in their work. Similarly, by taking feedback from employees, companies can tailor their work environment. When employees are heard in an organization, they feel cared for and valued. To develop a feedback culture in your organization – encourage communication, listen to your employees, and encourage them to ask questions. Do 360-degree feedback surveys and face-to-face interviews to put feedback to use.
6. Increase Employee Engagement
Employees who are emotionally and psychologically attached to their workplace are happy, engaged, and productive. As per a Gallup Poll, highly engaged employees are 17% more productive and have a 41% lower rate of absenteeism. For increasing employee engagement, companies should hire & develop great managers. There should be clear, achievable goals for everyone. With clear goal setting, employees are likely to feel more engaged at work.
7. Improve Communication with Employees
Managers should check in with their team members regularly and should ensure that their team members know how their work is linked with the company’s goals. Managers should be available for their teammates to answer their questions and discuss any concerns they have. They should empathize with them and help them in overcoming work-related struggles.
8. Create an Environment of Psychological Safety
Create an environment where employees feel safe and comfortable being themselves. When employees know that their ideas won’t be scoffed at, they would feel free to share their ideas, engage in meaningful conversations, and stay engaged. By genuinely caring for your employees, you can create an environment of psychological safety. Managers should regularly check with their teams about their physical, emotional, and mental well-being, and provide them the time if they need it. When employees feel the company cares for them, they become happier, more engaged, and highly productive. Companies should hold workshops to train leaders in empathy, and phasing out micro-management.
9. Prioritize Cultural Alignment When Hiring
The people that a company hires play a critical role in sustaining its culture. Companies should vet candidates at the time of hiring to ensure they match the culture and energy of the company. Check with the candidates about the culture they experienced at their previous organizations, and what they liked or disliked about it. And since it is a two-way process, ensure that the interviewing members should demonstrate your organization’s best cultural traits. As per Harvard Business Review – “Culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.”
10. Show Appreciation to Employees
Employees who feel appreciated and valued perform even better. It gives them confidence and boosts their morale. Encourage recognition across the organization, from staff all the way to the C-suite. Regular, meaningful recognition can dramatically improve employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction.
11. Raise Mental Health Awareness
Due to the stigma around mental health, employees with mental health do not speak up for the fear of being judged and labeled a certain way. Raising awareness will give confidence to employees to share the problems they are undergoing and seek help.
12. Offer Mental Health Support
Companies should offer mental health benefits that are on par with physical health benefits, and ensure easy access to these resources.
13. Measure and Meet the Existing Needs
Companies should conduct regular internal surveys to monitor employee mental health and well-being, and learn whether the offered benefits meet employee needs.
14. Make Mental Health a Part of Return to Office Policy
As a part of the return to office policy, companies should prioritize employees’ mental health and should ensure that the workplace environment supports their mental and emotional well-being. This is a chance for organizations to redefine their responsibilities to their workers and create more sustainable businesses in the process.
What is the importance of mental health in the workplace?
Mental health at the workplace is very important as it affects the productivity and work performance of an employee. When employees feel depressed, it affects their performance, their ability to communicate with their coworkers, and their daily functioning. Poor mental health affects the temper too and results in irritability. When employees are mentally healthy, they feel energetic, flexible, adaptive, and resilient.
What factors can lead to mental issues in the workplace?
Some of the factors that can lead to mental health issues at the workplace include –
1. Unclear tasks
2. Low level of support
3. Unclear policies
4. Lack of flexibility
6. Performance pressure
7. Job insecurity
8. Long work hours
9. Lack of appreciation
10. Lack of growth
How does the work environment affect the mental health of employees?
A negative work environment affects the mental health of employees. Performance pressure, bullying, harassment, and lack of recognition, all affect mental health. Employees lose focus and their performance goes down. It also affects their daily functioning, and due to a lack of motivation, they resign from their jobs.
Should I quit my job if it is affecting my mental health?
Yes, it is worthwhile to leave the toxic work environment. However, it is critical to consider the financial consequences. If finances are not an issue, you should resign, and give yourself some time before joining a new workplace so that you can enter it with a positive mindset.