Mental health in the workplace is something that many people would like to ignore, but just like physical health, good mental health is crucial to workplace success. However, when you understand the sources of stress and their impact on mental health in the workplace, you can take steps to ensure that you are healthy mentally.
A poorly run workplace can exacerbate mental health problems, or even induce a problem in a person who would otherwise be healthy. We are going to look at the causes of mental health issues in the workplace, the challenges, as well as how to manage mental health issues in the workplace.
Causes of Mental Health Issues in the Workplace
This is one of the biggest causes of mental health issues. As an employee, wanting to do the best job they can and feeling an obligation to try and complete all the work assigned, it’s not uncommon that this leads to employees burning out. As an employer, it is crucial finding a balance between the best results and the well-being of staff. Unmanageable workloads not only impact staff in the office but also at home as many will take unfinished projects to complete after work hours.
This is another leading cause of mental health issues. It’s not surprising that many employees are stressed about money. In Nigeria, the underemployment rate in Q4 of 2020 was 22.2%. This is the reflection of the number of talents either underpaid or underutilised.
Lastly, workplace bullying is another cause of workplace mental health issue. Bullying can have devastating consequences; the victim can suffer a whole host of very serious mental health issues including anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.
Having explained the causes of mental health issues in the workplace; we are going to look at the challenges of the listed mental health issues:
Large workloads can in turn cause a high level of stress. Moreover, when stressed, employees’ normal routines can become of secondary importance and day-to-day healthy activities and actions can be easily forgotten. Lack of exercise, poor diet, and high levels of stress can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, and generally an unhealthy lifestyle.
Unmanageable workloads affect employees in the office, as well as at home as many take unfinished projects to complete at home after working hours. The inability to switch off can negatively impact relationships and some employees may feel they need to prioritize their workload first over family life. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety and can make it difficult for the team to concentrate and in turn, leads to poor productivity.
Even the most efficient and hard work employees have a limit to what they can achieve in a given period. However, late nights and pressure coming from every direction, can lead to some employees becoming either mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausted. This can lead to higher levels of absenteeism, and lack of concentration.
Financial problem is something that everyone will experience at some point. However, for some, the fear of bills or an overdue statement can lead to many sleepless nights. Lack of sleep makes the body’s immune system becomes less effective, leading to an increased risk of illness and absenteeism.
Anxiety and stress
Feeling low or anxious is a normal response to struggling with debt. Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and money worries can make mental health worse.
Bullied staff are at the risk of experiencing both psychological and physical effects. These could include stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, and panic attacks but more severe conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder have been associated with workplace bullying.
Workplace bullying can undermine the confidence of your staff. However, this can lead to low self-esteem, and an inability to work as effectively which can as well lead to lower productivity.
As a leader, it is crucial to understand the impact that workplace bullying has on external reputation. Unhappy employees who feel that they have to leave because the situation becomes too unmanageable can turn to the public to talk about their experiences of working in your company. This can detract future talent from considering your organization and also reduces the workplace standards.
Having shared the causes of mental health issues as well as the challenges associated with them; here are tips on how to manage mental health issues:
Training on time management
Some people are naturally more organized and adept at managing their time than others. Offer training to those who would benefit from it or encourage colleagues to share strategies amongst themselves.
Many people (particularly introverts) cannot concentrate in a busy and loud environment. Make available one silent space where employees can get their heads down without interruption. Alternatively, consider allowing your employees to work from home when they need to conduct deep work.
Make them feel valued
There’s only one thing worse than managing the stress of a seemingly never-ending workload and that’s working all hours without being appreciated. If employees feel that their hard work is being noticed and rewarded; it can turn stress into satisfaction.
Paying your employees on time help them manage their finances. While most companies always pay on time as a matter of principle, it should be every company priority.
Budgeting, managing debts, and saving are skills that some people are yet to develop. You can encourage your staff to better understand their finances by providing them with training opportunities like financial management workshop.
It is cheaper to pay for items upfront than to spread the costs out. Offer to pay the lump sum for your employees while they pay back in a bit each month.
Make it clear that bullying is not acceptable by writing out a formal policy and circulating it amongst staff. Clearly state the relevant procedures, expected standards, and the consequences of bullying; and stick to it.
Show commitment by creating an anti-bullying culture by raising awareness about the issue. This can be included in the company’s policy, or by hosting an anti-bullying event.
Leading by example
Demonstrate a zero-tolerance approach to bullying by having senior team members set the standards and any issues identified will be dealt with. If bullying is unacceptable at the top level, this will help establish an anti-bullying culture throughout the company.
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