In recent years, challenges related to mental health in the workplace have come to the forefront of organizations. With the effects of the pandemic and the disruptions it has caused, the mental health of many employees has been weakened. This situation has led to a general awareness in many establishments.
The impact of this issue is significant. According to Statistics Canada, the cost related to work absences amounts to $16.6 billion per year, including lost productivity. Overall, the impact of mental health challenges on the Canadian economy amounts to $50 billion per year.
In terms of turnover rates, recent studies indicate that nearly 75% of Canadian workers are willing to quit their job for a similar salary if the new employer offered them a better work environment and support for their well-being at work.
What are the main risks for mental health at work?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), these risks are:
- an excessive workload or pace due to a staff shortage
- long, inflexible working hours that are incompatible with social and family life
- a company culture that allows for negative behaviours such as violence, harassment, intimidation, discrimination, or exclusion
- lack of support from colleagues or overly authoritarian management
- poorly defined duties and a lack of decision-making authority over job definition or workload
- under-promotion or under-utilization of a worker’s skills
- over-promotion or under-qualification for a new position
- inadequate pay or job insecurity
- dangerous or difficult working conditions
The presence of one or more of these risks leads to a loss of meaning at work for the employee, which affects their satisfaction and their level of commitment. The longer the situation lasts without the worker seeing any possibility of improvement, the greater the chances that the worker “falls sick” or leaves the company. One way or another, they will need to be replaced, which is not easy in the current context.
How can we positively impact mental health in the workplace?
- Raise awareness about mental health amongst employees.
About 4 out of 10 employees say they have experienced some mental health issues at work. Because it is still a taboo subject and they were treated in private, these workers are reluctant to openly talk about what they have been through at work. With the goal of changing this mentality, it is recommended to educate employees and managers on the subject, the associated risks and good practices.
- Achieve a cultural shift in terms of wellness.
In order to have a significant impact, the causal link between the company’s performance and the well-being of its employees must become fundamental. For the company, investing in the well-being of its employees thus becomes a condition that guarantees the success of its organizational efficiency. The question we must ask ourselves is: how does the well-being of employees impact their level of commitment and performance?
- Establish organizational objectives regarding health and wellness.
In making a cultural shift, it becomes essential to clarify and align wellness objectives with the company’s business strategy. These objectives should initiate and positively impact management practices, teamwork, and individual work.
- Train managers so they can address the issue, intervene and use the available support resources.
In order to handle mental health challenges in the workplace, managers must be equipped to identify and act on issues from the outset.
Some training ideas:
- How to initiate a caring conversation with your employee?
- How to encourage workers to ask for help in situations of psychological distress?
- How to encourage an employee to take advantage of the EAP?
- How to manage mental health support interventions while maintaining good job performance?
- How to reintegrate an employee returning from a sick leave for mental health issues?
- Create a climate of trust and an open dialogue with your employees.
Prevention is better than a cure, so it is essential to know your employees and be aware of their concerns. By talking to them regularly, it will be possible to detect problematic situations in time, to find and implement win-win solutions, and thus avoid having to manage a sick leave.
- Create workplace wellness programs.
These programs allow members of an organization to equip themselves in order to implement good practices. After training managers and their teams, coaching should also be provided to support them on a daily basis.
Here are a few examples of topics that can be addressed:
- Resilience at work
- Employee engagement
- Balance between professional and personal life
- Individual growth and their development journey
At Bedard Human Resources, the mental health of your managers, your workers and your teams is important to us!
Please contact Stephane Pepin for more information on our HR consulting services.