Our work and profession dictate a huge part of our life. It is where we spend most of the time in the day and often entails financial freedom for individuals. The ability to work is a crucial aspect of mental health and well-being and our work is what allows us to feel productive. For many people work is living their dream, driven by passion and interest and for others, it’s a source of income that allows people to achieve their dreams. Either way, it’s one of the paramount parts of our life.
The need for discussion of this topic emerges with the increasing issues people face during 9-5 hours of their day which impacts their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The effects of a stressful work environment on its employees are well defined but the deleterious effects of work-related stress are not only affecting the employees but also the organizations which are reflected by desk rage (actions by employees that can be damaging to the organization example: theft, verbal abuse) and condensed productivity.
Factors at the workplace that can raise mental health concerns
There are many causes within the environment and individual characteristics that can lead to mental health problems in employees. Major concerns are listed to be
- Bullying in the workplace or mobbing in the form of ridicule, mockery, humiliation, unjust criticism, and forced isolation to name a few. This part of the workplace interaction is often seen in the most refined ways and may be imperceptible. It leads one to lose interest in work, crushes self-esteem and work may seem dreadful.
- Poor management and communication- in a modern workplace, employees tend to depend on each other for the completion of tasks. Therefore, poor communication results in poor productivity within the team affecting the team’s outcome and affecting their health.
- Ambiguous roles for work create flawed expectations, leading employees to work without direction, and yielding unexpected results that can cause stress and other mental health issues.
- Low job decision latitude, that is the control that the employees seem to have on their work contributes to being a major stressor.
- Workload- sometimes organizations are unable to readily fulfill vacancies which creates undesirable workload and work expectations on the existing employees who are envisioned to fill up the lags in work. This can create adverse consequences for the employees and their productivity.
Ours is a developing country where our environment is still accommodating our technical growth and where we are still learning to adjust to the advancing world. That is, as technology evolves, the needs of people in our environment will also change which indicates the need to introduce novel strategies, policies, and provisions to contribute to the stability of the volatile environment. That being said it is imperative to formulate new strategies that can be employed to identify, recognise and intervene in issues with mental health in the workplace.
12 Tips to Maintain Mental Health at Workplace:
- More extracurricular activities in the form of individual or group activities in the workplace to engage employees in tasks and discussions other than work activities may help employees form healthy relationships at work and maintain their enthusiasm for work and buffer stress.
- Support healthy lifestyles by catering healthy food in canteens and introducing gym membership along with other incentives for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The research done by Susan Voit, 2001 indicated that adding a gym at work can be encouraging to employees.
- Modification in evaluation and reward systems by introducing rewards for employee performance rather than working a greater number of hours.
- Digital detox to enable work-life balance and respecting healthy boundaries between day to hassles with work.
- Initiatives like meditation, yoga, extended weekends, special holidays, regular health checkups, free subscription to wellbeing apps, and counselling sessions. Many organizations schedule sports days which contributes to teamwork and raising motivation among employees.
- Proliferate more sessions/talks about mental health thereby creating more awareness which also knits a non-judgemental environment for the employees to talk about their mental health freely.
- Blurry career paths, promotion criteria, and roles have been a major source of stress among employees. Feedback aimed at maintaining clarity in roles and expectations becomes essential.
- Encourage socializing and hot desking (work model where employees share work stations especially advantageous when employees outnumber desks) which involves collaboration and communication between employees.
- Changes in work schedules for example 3rd Friday off giving more time to employees to deal with stressors adaptively as introduced by Adobe India (Pandya, Khanal and Upadhyaya, 2022) or a designated week off to prioritise mental health as initiated by Nike.
- Job decision latitude; In a theory by Karasek, 1979, the amount of control that employees perceive to have been thought to dispel stress. Therefore, inclusive decision-making and making amends to provide more control over work can be a boon to workplace stress.
- Catering to the essential needs of employees, like providing a transport facility to the people who need it will help to reduce peripheral hurdles with work.
- Periodic feedback from employees regarding mental/physical health-related issues, the status of support system, living quality, and family life to determine the need for intervention.
Interventions targeted toward mental health and well-being must be covered as a part of the overall integral health viewed by organizations. It will facilitate the identification and introduction of targeted interventions at an early stage to alleviate the upheaval of mental health issues among the working population and it can be achieved by implementing new strategies as a part of the work culture. As evident as it could be, both the organization and the employees need to develop a healthy relationship to cater for each other; as a healthy population’s productivity weighs on the economy, and organizations need to shield the mental and physical health of this population.
By- Kritika Zutshi
Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job Demands, Job Decision Latitude, and Mental Strain: Implications for Job Redesign. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24(2), 285–308. https://doi.org/10.2307/2392498
Mental health in the workplace. (n.d.). WHO | World Health Organizationhttps://www.WHO.Int. Retrieved July 26, 2022, from https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace
Pandya A, Khanal N and Upadhyaya M (2022) Workplace Mental Health Interventions in India: A Rapid Systematic Scoping Review. Front. Public Health 10:800880. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2022.800880
Raypole, C. (2019, April 29). How to Identify and Manage Workplace Bullying. https://www.healthline.com/. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/workplace-bullying
Thomas, J. C., & Hersen, M. (2002). Handbook of Mental Health in the Workplace (1st ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.
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