How Does Mental Health Affect the Workplace?

Employees are the key asset of an organisation. They are the driving force behind an organisation’s productivity, performance, and success. And the following quote from Herb Kelleher, Co-founder of Southwest Airlines, captures this essence beautifully –

Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees, and the rest follows from that.

Work and mental health are strongly linked. A toxic workplace can adversely impact an employee’s mental well-being. The opposite is equally possible. An employee’s poor mental health can also adversely affect the workplace. Either way, it’s not a win-win for the employees, employers, or the organisation.

Mental Well-Being At Workplace: An Interplay of Factors

Mental well-being at the workplace is an interplay of several factors that may be categorised into the following three categories –

  • Psychological – Aspects like job insecurity and stress contribute to psychological factors.
  • Emotional – Aspects like recognition, appreciation, employee morale, and engagement contribute to emotional factors.
  • Social – Aspects like peer relationships, team dynamics, and management support contribute to social factors.

Given these categories, a disbalance is one or more factors that can negatively impact an individual’s mental well-being. The risk increases when the employees cannot address or do not have the resources to cope with it.

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Impact of Poor Mental Health on the Workplace

1. Reduced Productivity

Poor mental health can lead to feeling constant stress and anxiety. It may even affect your interest or motivation to do work. As a result, your ability to concentrate and screen out unnecessary stimuli reduces. Furthermore, you may feel that your regular tasks are demanding more than you can give. All of this results in the inability to keep up with daily tasks, deal with everyday pressure, or do multiple tasks. The result? Reduced productivity. Despite putting in the same time and probably more effort to cope with how you feel, you cannot get the same amount of work done.

The latest top 50 global employee productivity statistics reveal both positive and negative actual and, in some cases, surprising results, for example, fatigue-related productivity losses are thought to cost $1,967 per employee each year.

2. Poor Decision Making

Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed/melancholic makes it challenging to focus on the task. Decision-making skills are necessary at every level of the organisation, not just at the top. Poor mental health negatively impacts your ability to make informed decisions. This may result in workplace accidents, loss of life (in extreme cases) or financial losses for the company.

3. Increased Absenteeism

One of the main reasons for absence is mental health problems. Physical symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, can make it challenging for workers dealing with mental health concerns to report to work routinely.

Additionally, stressed or depressed employees may feel a sense of not belonging or consider their workplace unsupportive causing illness at work. Consequently, it may increase the workload and become stressful for their peers and manager who now need to compensate and cover. Slowly, it turns into a vicious cycle, impacting attendance at large.

4. Lack of Communication

Their mental health can significantly impact an individual’s capacity for successful communication. They could have difficulty connecting with others and comprehending their viewpoints, resulting in misunderstanding and conflict. Furthermore, mental illness can make people uneasy or suspicious, resulting in verbal or physical aggression outbursts.

Effective Measures to Promote Mental Well-Being At Work

  • Plan employee engagement activities that allow employees to get to know each other better. It enables them to create a personal relationship and maybe find a friend with whom they can share their challenges and concerns.
  • Arrange mental health workshops around managing stress, building resilience, overcoming conflicts, decision-making, creative thinking, problem-solving, and more for your employees. These are resources for solving ongoing problems and helping to address potential problems. Take quarterly feedback to improve your workplace environment.
  • Introduce mental health annual leave so that they have their own time to cope.
  • Partner with a counsellor who can assist your employees.
  • Discuss HR policies with your employee and take their feedback. Find a middle ground between what you, as an employer, feel is best to do and what your employees think is best.

The British Safety Council India offers a wide range of digital learning courses on mental health. These include courses like –

  • Managing Stress Within Your Team
  • Mental Health: Start the Conversation
  • Mental Health: Manage the Conversation
  • Resilience and more!

They are easy to follow and can be studied at one’s own pace and comfort. With all this being said, remember: Taking care of your employee’s mental health is not an expense. It’s an investment. It’s the humans of the company that makes the company. When they do well, the company will automatically do well!

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