Why should Employee Mental Health be Every Safety Manager’s Concern?

Why should Employee Mental Health be Every Safety Manager’s Concern?

What does employee mental health have to do with the productivity and bottom line of your business? Why should safety managers and employers be concerned about the mental well-being of their workforce? In this week’s post, we cover these questions and other related queries.

What is Employee Mental Health?

Mental health refers to the psychological, emotional and social well-being of an individual. Simply put, it affects the way a person thinks, feels and acts.

According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), mental health denotes the state of well-being that helps every individual reach his or her potential. It’s what helps a person deal with the normal stresses of life, and can help him/her work productively while contributing to the overall community.

Anxiety and depression are the two major mental disorders that impact a person’s ability to work. Recent studies by WHO reveal that globally more than 300 million people suffer from depression. WHO estimates that around US $1 trillion is lost from the global economy as a result of lost productivity due to depression and other workplace mental health issues.

A negative working environment not only causes loss of productivity but also increases usage of alcohol, drugs and increases workplace violence. Workplaces that offer mental health support are likely to see a decrease in absenteeism, improved productivity and subsequent increase in economic gains.

Reasons for Employees to feel Depressed at Work:

As adults, we spend nearly 50% (or even more) of our waking hours at the workplace. It’s no surprise that the workplace environment impacts our mental well-being significantly.

Here are some reasons, why employees feel stressed and depressed in the workplace:

  • Inadequate safety and health policies
  • Poor communication and lack of leadership
  • Employees feeling like that they have no say in decision making
  • Limited control over one’s workspace
  • Long or inflexible working hours
  • No defined roles, objectives and tasks
  • Excessive or insufficient workload
  • Monotonous and/or repetitive tasks
  • Favouritism and partiality at work
  • Lack of recognition or respect at work
  • Bullying in the workplace (psychological, physical and social)
  • Harassment
  • Imbalance in the workplace and home demands

What are the Negative Impacts of Ignoring Employee Mental Health at Work?

A workplace that doesn’t provide support to employees’ mental health suffers from a loss in productivity. Here are the other negative impacts of ignoring the well-being of employees in the workplace.

  • Low Happiness Quotient

When the mental health of employees is ignored in the workplace, it causes both emotional effects (stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and burnout) as well as physical effects (ulcers, high blood pressure, sleeping disorders, body aches, cardiac problems and more).

All these effects not only reduce the happiness quotient of employees but also cause an increase in overall absentees from work, which in turn impacts the workflow significantly.

  • Poor Performance

When employees’ mental health is disturbed at work, it causes an increase in workplace mistakes, safety accidents (which can be fatal), poor time-keeping, poor decision making and a general deterioration in the quality of work. All of this causes an overall reduction in workplace output.

  • Poor Workplace Culture

Mental health problems at work cause friction among employees, damages the working relationship among team members and with management, leading to disciplinary problems.

Additionally, it also causes a reduction in employee commitment and dedication to the job, high attrition levels – all of which deteriorate the work culture and atmosphere.

  • Increase in Workplace Accidents

There’s no denying the fact that – our minds drive the activity of the body. Even, when people aren’t actually diagnosed with mental problems, a disturbed mind affects a person’s ability to make decisions and recognise potential hazards.

To work safely at the workplace, people need to be mindful of what they are doing. When employees are mentally distracted, they are likely to make poor decisions, which in turn, increase workplace accidents.

What are the Ways Safety Managers can Improve Employee Mental Health in the Workplace?

There are several proactive steps that safety managers can take to boost employee well-being in the workplace.

Changes to Organisational Policies

  • Enforcement of safety and health policies that help in identifying employees with high-stress levels and drug abuse.
  • Develop and enact a strict workplace policy against all forms of harassment – sexual, racial and more.
  • Establish on-the-job training programs for employees to help them remain committed and motivated.
  • Involve employees in the major decision-making processes of the business, so that they have strong validation, participation, and control in the workplace.

Changes to Workplace Culture

  • Create a positive environment in the workplace that helps employees bond easily, while supporting each other.
  • Encourage good work-life balance among employees by providing them with adequate time to bond and interact with their loved ones, outside of work.
  • Recognise and reward the contributions of employees, so that they know that they are making positive contributions to work.
  • Provide employees with counsellors, who can diagnose and help them take the right action to deal with workplace stress.

Immediate Actions to Implement

Apart from the above organisational and cultural changes, safety managers can promote employee well-being at the workplace in several ways. Here are a few actionable steps that you can implement today.

  • Encourage employees to inculcate healthy activities like drinking adequate water, including vegetables and fruits in their diet.
  • Provide employees with a way to release workplace stresses. This can be including a gym at the workplace or playing a friendly game of ball in the evenings.
  • Or you can even include power and quick yoga sessions in the mornings (just 10 minutes) before employees begin work. This helps them start the day on a positive note.

Wrapping Up

While it’s true that the well-being of an employee depends on several factors like home pressures, the workplace also plays a crucial role in the mental well-being of employees.

And, taking the right steps to focus on the mental well-being of employees can make huge differences in your company’s bottom line. Take care of the mental health of your team, and watch your productivity and profits soar.

If you need a customized methodology to boost the workplace culture of your organisation, reach out to Totalika, India’s leading health and safety provider.

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