HR Manager’s Toolkit for Mental Health at Work

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  • February 15, 2021
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The first thing you need to understand is that globalization has been a powerful and dynamic force for growth in the world economy, with rapid implementation of information technology, changes in increased automation, innovation and the resultant changes in organization structure. Employees worldwide confront as never before an array of new organizational processes – downsizing, contingent employment and increased workload. Established organizations face competition from new lean entrants in various segments. The pressure increases for organizations to thrive in the dynamic environment. This phenomenon was first coined into the acronym VUCA in 1987, based on leadership theories of Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus.

  • The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts
  • The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events
  • The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues, no cause-and-e­ffect chain and confusion that surrounds organization
  • The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-e­ffect confusion.

Organizations continue to grapple with VUCA dynamics, the recent pandemic proves to be one of the most extreme challenges, as it throws the entire world o­ff balance. As businesses slowly recover, there is increasing focus on Planning, Mitigating Business Risks, Future Readiness, Recovery Systems and Managing Change to sustain themselves.

The impact of the increasing pressures, demands and uncertainty are felt by employees mounting to anxiety and worry. We see increasing cases of high achieving millennials facing a range of mental, psychological and physical discomfort manifesting as headaches, back pain, gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, sleep disorders, hypertension, substance abuse and diabetes.

This further results in dissatisfaction, disengagement, low morale, fatigue, increased time lo­ss, human errors, reduced productivity and even burnout while, organizations deal with absenteeism, attrition, poor performance, as well as negative impact on profits.

Globally, an estimated 264 million people suff­er from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suff­ering from symptoms of anxiety. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.

WHO believes – “A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees.”

An academic report from 2014 suggests that interventions should take a 3-pronged approach:

  • Protect mental health by reducing work–related risk factors
  • Promote mental health by developing the positive aspects of work and the strengths of employees
  • Address mental health problems regardless of cause

Their recent study estimated that for every US$ 1 put into scaled up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$ 4 in improved health and productivity.

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