Understanding mental health in the workplace is essential, as it affects every area of the employees’ life and makes it hard for them to maintain concentration. This definitely harms the employees’ productivity! We can no longer ignore mental health in the workplace; we cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist, even within HR.
The annual loss of productivity due to poor mental health in the workplace costs the UK between 78 to 99 billion, and in the US, the annual cost of stress-related workplace issues is about 100 billion US dollars. Bear in mind that these staggering figures are just for the ones reported; there are hidden costs that we don’t even know about because not everyone is speaking up about stress when they have it; they might say it’s stomach ache or something else.
This is exactly why we need to amplify the conversation of mental health issues in our workplaces to fade the stigma surrounding it.
Causes of Absenteeism in the Work Place
- Poor Management: This is a huge thing in the workplace because the conflict between the employee and the manager can lead to high-stress levels. When a company has a poor work design, people are forced to do a job in a way they are uncomfortable with, leading to frustration and reduced productivity.
- Toxic Work Culture: how can two work together except they agree? Employees need to get along with each other and their managers; when that doesn’t happen, it breeds toxicity which is bad for productivity. This and overworking employees leads to stress beyond comprehension, which is not supposed to be. One major problem is that people are working the same way they have been for the last 30 years; there’s no growth, no development, and no evolution.
- Lack of Flexible working options: The world has drastically evolved, so should the workplace. If a 9–5 is not absolutely necessary, employees should at least close early, work from home at least twice a week, or develop a shift system. When employers refuse to be flexible with their workers, it leads to low employee engagement, withdrawal, low productivity, and extremely high turnover.
Because of long-standing issues, people perceive that HR doesn’t care about their employees, even though there are programs and opportunities for HR to guide them towards. Most employees do not even know that these employee assistance programs exist, so the question is, are we helping the employees to utilize them? More importantly, are we as HR utilizing these resources effectively for ourselves?
How to recognize Mental Health Issues and Help Employees get the help they need
First of all, let’s admit that HR professionals need to be trained themselves! We need to get the mental awareness training we need to be able to recognize it. Some organizations specialize in training HR and management professionals so that they can be able to spot the early signs of mental strains caused by stress. Organizations such as HR@Heart Consulting Inc. and Jolene King’s 246 King consulting.
Human Resources professionals need to start creating awareness, actually tell people every day that employee benefits exist, plus it will be confidential and independent. A recent study shows that only 5.5 percent of employees use the employee assistance programs, which means it’s up to us, HR, to reintroduce these programs to those who know and those who do not know about them.
Things you can do Apart from Counselling and how to integrate it into the employee assistance program
Just having the overall well-being of your employees in mind is another thing you can do. You can have gyms or discounted memberships in gyms close to the company; you can bring in people to check your employees’ blood pressure, teach them about self-care, check their heart rate; it’s not about waiting until they fall sick before you do something it is first of all showing that you care. Make sure that all departments are involved, insist that people take lunches away from their desk, go out for some fresh air, basically encourage more healthy behavior.
Embrace more forward-thinking ways of working and trust people to do their jobs. Try to redesign things around the organization or company to see that you’re evolving just as the world has.
Mental health is becoming a hot topic worldwide, and one of its major causes is stress. One of the most popular places where people get stressed is at work! Now that people in the public eye are speaking up about their mental health challenges, it is slowly helping to reduce the stigma associated with it, but more work still needs to be done, and that’s where we come in.
You can listen to The HR Sound Off Podcast Show here to find out more about mental health issues in the workplace and you.
Julie Turney is the CEO & Founder of HR@Heart Consulting Inc., an HRforHR Coach, supporting the people supporting the people, Host of The HR Sound Off Podcast Show, and the Lead Organizer, DisruptHR Caribbean.
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