A significant portion of our adult life is spent in the workplace. Therefore, our physical and mental well-being at our workplace is of utmost significance. A positive mental health is not only beneficial for the health of the employees but also benefits the company by boosting their productivity. Unfortunately, mental health disorders often go unnoticed. If left untreated, it can damage an individual’s health and career. This is why it is in the employers’ best interests to put into place measures to manage their employees’ mental health to enable them to work to the best of their capacity. Mental health at the workplace is dependent on many factors, for example,
- Overwork: Excessive and very tough workload can cause anxiety and increase the stress levels of the employee. This can be addressed by either providing adequate training to the employee or changing the way the work is performed.
- Uncertain future: Businesses undergo changes all the time. Some might end up making the employees feel insecure, thereby impacting their ability to focus on their work.
- Lack of communication and support: An open, two-way communication channel with the managers can provide an outlet for employees to air their opinions freely and grievances if any. A good, honest relationship with the managers can really boost an employee’s confidence levels and his/her productivity.
Mental health problems are becoming increasingly common in the workplace. Some steps which an employer can take to tackle the issue are:
- Recognizing a potential mental health issue
Mental health condition is an intangible entity. An employee might look normal externally, but might be suffering from a serious mental turmoil. A manager should be able to recognize some tell-tale signs of a mental health issue:
- Uncharacteristic behaviour
- Decrease in productivity
- Temper issues
- Blaming others for own faults
- Inability to get along with colleagues
- Lack of focus and concentration on work
- Poor eating habits
- Discuss with the employee: If an employer comes to know of any such issue, he/she should discuss the employee’s concerns as they may have a bearing on the performance of the employee and also that of the organisation. The employee should be encouraged to seek medical guidance.
- Communicate with the relevant staff: It is important to keep any medical issue confidential and respect the privacy of the staff.
- Prevention of mental health problems: It is the manager’s responsibility to foster a culture where employees feel valued and respected and enable them to strike a balance between their professional and personal lives, in order to prevent stress.
Some other measures which an employer can consider to maintain employee well-being are:
- “Mental health” trained managers
- Raising awareness and creating an open culture
- Involve employees in decision making
- Introducing stress management procedures
- A transparent performance management process
Keeping in mind the importance of the topic, World Health Organization (WHO) designated the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 as ‘Mental Health at the Workplace’, with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues and mobilizing efforts in support of better mental health.