June 14, 2022

Mental Health and Workplace Performances

Let’s talk about Workplace Mental Health

Nabih Haidar

Let’s talk about Workplace Mental Health

Mental health problems are often hiding in plain sight at the workplace. This isn’t to say that their effects are not apparent, but they do tend to be misinterpreted. In this article, we’ll go over how mental health impacts productivity, and what we can do to help our teammates thrive.

So, what’s the link between mental health and productivity at work? Does wellness play an important role in the broader context of the organization? Let’s begin.

The topic of mental health in the workplace is relevant to many more people than we may think

In fact, approximately 45% of employees in the United States report that anxiety or depression interferes with their productivity at the office, while nearly one in five employees (18%) attest that anxiety or depression interferes with their work more than often. In addition, nearly one in two people in Quebec report feeling anxious, highlighting the increase in workplace wellness concerns across North America.

Spotting Concerns

There is a method to assess the impact of the work environment on the individual known as the Workplace Stress Scale. This scale allows us to assess the degree of stress a work environment entails, all contributing to feelings of stress and anxiety at work.

This test entails answering questions through a 1–10 scale where participants respectively agree or disagree with the sentiment asked. Some things which the test covers include problems with superiors, work-life balance conflicts, problems with co-workers and performance pressure. Some sentiments that figure on the Workplace Stress Test:

  • I cannot be honest about what I really think at work. (1–10)
  • I could usually do much better if I were given the time. (1–10)
  • My workplace environment is not very pleasant or safe. (1–10)
  • My job often interferes with my family and personal time. (1–10)
  • I tend to have frequent arguments with coworkers or supervisors. (1–10)

On Problematic Relationships

Positive workplace relationships are ultimately the founding block of a healthy work environment. On the other hand, problematic relationships between employees and their managers, or even internally in teams, are often the main cause of workplace discomfort.

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

This can stem from a multitude of places, be it through ineffective communication, unrealistic expectations, heightened criticism, or the lack of room for error. Employees can quickly find themselves amidst incompatible coworkers within a workplace that does not adequately address their concerns.

So, how can we have a positive workplace relationship that promotes growth and success? An honest conversation goes a long way.

When employers’ demands are not necessarily feasible or the expectations behind the role seem to be too great for the teams, an open conversation where issues are honestly addressed can help turn a page.

Positive communication is the backbone of positive workplace relationships, and disconnects between employers and employees can quickly be resolved when all parties approach it with open, honest, and positive communication.

On Work and Flexibility

Balancing the demands of work and personal life is fundamental to well-being at work. When employees are able to balance work with their personal life, they can give sufficient attention to the different issues that arise in both work and personal contexts.

The shift in candidate expectation now sees an increased importance of elements which do not necessarily have to do with financial compensation; such as perks and benefits pertaining to work-life balance and schedule flexibility.

More than shifting expectations, the shifting work paradigms have made flexibility imperative to any job opening. Some are concerned with the classic work-life balance in terms of hours spent at work, while others care more for flexible work arrangements such as hybrid or remote working.

In the scopes of both employee engagement and candidate attraction, the importance of work-life flexibility is of growing importance throughout the post-pandemic work paradigms.

On Incompatible Company Cultures

Team culture plays an important role in workplace well-being. A positive culture creates an inclusive team, which in turn entails an engaged and caring environment.

In contrast, a negative culture makes team spirit obsolete; especially when the value of one team member is assessed by comparing their performance with their peers. This method of competitive management can sometimes bring the best out of teammates, but it is significant to remember that it could quickly have the opposite effect.

The line between team spirit and rivalry lies at the willingness to understand the other as a person first; and understanding that the value of the person exceeds the value of their performance.

Teams that focus on mutual support and success can thus create a positive work environment that allows members to unravel their full potential, while helping them find their collective and personal well-being at the workplace.

Pressure and Performance

Unrealistic expectations can quickly add latent layers of pressures on employees, causing more stress and discomfort at work, even becoming a detriment to performances.

Increased workloads, longer work hours and putting too much pressure on the individual can leave employees physically and emotionally exhausted and drained, and can result in burned out teams who have a hard time being engaged in their work.

Photo by Marc Mueller from Pexels

This problem is exacerbated in teams that place more emphasis on individual’s performance as opposed to the individual themselves. Members of these teams find themselves in competition with their teammates, heightening their concerns and adding another layer of workplace discomfort.

Anxiety and stress affect the performance of employees as they can no longer work comfortably, effectively, and efficiently. In addition, performance-related stress adds onto the sense of workplace anxiety, creating a self-repeating circle of unhappiness at work.

Between Understanding and Acting

The road to better mental health at work starts with conversations on the topic. Only when the conversation is open can we begin implementing measures that cater to the wellbeing of our teams.

Employers can help their teams find wellness at work through different actions, policies, and events; all designed to increase morale and put the people back at the heart of the workplace. This can be done on the personal level with one-to-one approaches, or on a collective level with team-building activities and modelling a positive company culture.

Company culture plays an instrumental role in the well-being of its teams. Adapting a corporate culture to better address workplace wellness opens the door for an inclusive team that openly communicates and cares for each other’s health.

Closing Thoughts

Positive workplace practices are top-down, starting at the top end of the company and trickling down to the working of employees.

Teams that thrive at work are driven first by the positive influence of managers, and a team will reward leaders who set the stage for their success. Happier, less stressed employees lead to increased productivity, which plays a significant role in revenue and therefore company growth.

Shifting company cultures help tackle the detrimental effects of workplace discomfort, and can help managers get the best out of their employees. A culture that centres itself on the people and not their performance will ultimately result in better performances, better brand recognition, and even better recruiting efforts.

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