The video “Workplace Mental Health - all you need to know (for now)” by Tom Oxley, emphasized on the importance of mental health at the workplace. According to the speaker, many people working in the organizations are not able to draw a line between their personal life and professional life.
Many people look at their phones before talking to their family in the morning or many people just wake up suddenly at night where they still stress about work leading to deprivation of sleep. Many people work every day, even on weekends. All these things are early signs of stress which may have a harmful impact on the mental health of the people working in the organization.
Due to such hectic job routines, people working in organizations are so busy that they are not able to draw a line between their personal and professional life and maintain proper “Work life balance” where adequate working hours is followed by adequate hours of rest and a reasonable time is given to focus both on professional and personal life.
Unfortunately, in spite of such serious issues, people still work excessively and not much importance is given to employees overall well being, especially mental health. People having poor mental health want to work the whole time and even while doing work they tend to struggle a lot. They are not able to concentrate on the work they are doing and have difficulty in communicating and juggling tasks.
Moreover, they face difficulty to approach their managers regarding the problems. The people working in organizations are hesitant because they think maybe their managers would also not understand them or they would generalize their problem as “work stress” or they may even think that the managers could ask them to leave the organization. Employees often feel such type of stigma by either from their work environment or even themselves. People working in organizations are so busy doing their work that they do not get time off even to think about such problems and since these issues are not resolved, the employees themselves could not explain the reason behind increased abseentism.
This is because organizations do not emphasize much on mental health of employees as well as maintaining a “proper work life balance”. The speaker also emphasized that they are many personal matters of employees too which need to be taken care of but due to the “presentism” in organizations, employees prioritize their work first making them neglect their own personal matters and therefore work becomes a compulsion for employees.
This “presentism” costs 1.8 times than that of abseentism. In most cases, even the managers are not that well trained when it comes to taking care of the mental health of employees. Since they don’t know how to converse about it, they will tell their employees to see a doctor and be on medication, as for the managers it’s just normal “stress”.
This method is actually quite ineffective and the employees, who were performing well earlier, would also at some point, not be able to manage working continuously and thus they would be disengaged from their work. Since the issue is not resolved, they would be more depressed and anxious. Therefore it would be recommended that before sending employees to therapists, such problems of employees should first be resolved by managers and for this to happen the managers need to trained, so that they can wisely handle employee’s mental health.
For example : The speaker had interviewed two people :
Nick who was a senior manager at a global firm who performed very well in his work and constantly exceeded expectations, as senior positions involve doing more work to earn more money. When Nick’s family member died, he was only given two or three days of compassionate leave. He wanted to have flexible time hours where he could have holiday on Friday or weekends but his manager refused. Nick was hesitant to speak to his manager and then went on medication.
Unfortunately, he didn’t benefit anything and became disengaged from work and wasn’t able to come back completely to the organization.
On the other hand, there was another person named Sally, who was also a successful manager worked at International Charity and same situation had happened with her. Her family member died. But this time the situation was different. The manager knew that it was an unfortunate incident and she knew it would have affected Sally mentally. So, she granted Sally a reasonable leave without forcing her to prioritize work. The manager even suggested that she can comfortably work from home.
Many years passed and Sally still works efficiently in the same organization and she is still a successful manager. If we look at both the examples we can observe how it is important for the leaders, managers and the organization as a whole to understand that “Work life balance” is very important and the employee’s problems should be first resolved at organizational level.
The employees should be able to speak their grievances freely with their superiors otherwise like Nick, an organization could lose its talented and hardworking employees. For this, there should be more emphasis on “mental health” of employees in the organization.
As leaders and managers, the most effective way to handle the mental health of employees is to be a patient listener to the employee’s problems. They should talk about mental health in a positive manner, giving employees an opportunity to seek help as and when they need. A leader should take initiative to train managers regarding mental health, to help the managers identify the signs and symptoms whenever employees are facing such kind if issues. They should be trained to be a patient listener. They should be trained to understand the situation in depth and use the right words and advice accordingly.
The organization should also focus on a reasonable “Work life balance” to ensure employees physical and emotional well being. The leaders as well as managers should be very supportive to their employees. One more effective way to handle the mental health of employees is to see problem and the stressed and anxious feelings from their perspective and then to think what method could resolve the problem.
Reaching out as a helping hand to employees is another great solution. The employees would then comfortably tell what is bothering them and then the problems can be written down and reasonable adjustments could also be made accordingly. Mindful meditation could also be encouraged.
In conclusion, employees of any organization want the commitment of its superiors that they can speak safely and comfortably about any mental issues or grievances that they are facing. So, an employer and a leader need to make sure that the employees can find a safe and comfortable place where they can talk about their grievances freely without any hesitation.
If the organization does not understand the importance of mental health now, all the stress and anxiety would have a negative impact on employees just like Nick. It would lead to increased abseentism of employees and the employees would eventually be disengaged from work, exhibiting low productivity and then the organizations would eventually have to lose its talented employees. So, organizations should consider using its resources to focus more on the mental employees as well. After all, the prosperity of organization depends on the prosperity of employees.