The elephant in the room: Mental health in the workplace
The topic of mental health is more important today than ever before. The 10th of October was declared World Mental Health Day in 1992. The goal? Better mental health for everyone.
When it comes to psychological health, there is particular potential for improvement within the professional world. SwissGlobal addresses this issue – and so should you.
Mens sana in corpore sano
“A healthy mind in a healthy body” is something our grandparents certainly knew about, as did the ancient Romans. Our psyche requires attention just as much as our physical body does, yet more and more experts are calling mental health the “greatest challenge” of the 21st century. Why is that? On the one hand, psychological stress is increasing – most markedly since the onset of the corona crisis – while recognition of mental health issues still lags behind. Being “allowed” to feel psychologically unwell remains far from acceptable in many settings. Particularly at work, individuals struggling with mental health still fight against prejudice and often encounter colleagues and supervisors who do not understand their situation.
According to up-to-date figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are currently over 110 million people in Europe with mental health issues. Causes include stress on the job, responsibility overload, difficulty finding the right work-life balance, as well as different types of harassment.
The coronavirus pandemic is drawing even more attention to mental wellbeing in 2020 as Covid-19 has changed the daily workplace routine significantly.
Reality check for everyone working from home: How to deal with the new reality
Daily life often generates a variety of stresses for many people. Our job, family and household duties demand a lot from us. In addition, we now have to deal with new and digital challenges such as Zoom meetings with background noise, unreliable internet during key meetings, and new safety measures involving masks, disinfecting agents and social distancing.
Another issue that is generally overlooked is that those working from home often feel the need to be available at all times and are thus working more than previously. This means that relaxation and a healthy work atmosphere are even more important for decentralised employment situations. Switching off – in the truest sense of the term – is difficult for many. Whereas freelancers and people who already had flexible work arrangements were able to adapt to the new situation quickly, other employees found themselves facing certain challenges. Some employers want to see their workers in the office as often as possible, whether due to internal protocols, to facilitate collaboration on projects, or to enable better interpersonal communication.
However, there are many advantages to remote working that add significant value if implemented correctly. Nowadays, thanks to digitalisation, we can do almost everything from almost anywhere. The prerequisites are suitable IT infrastructure, self-discipline, and a healthy dose of personal responsibility. Given that the trend towards mobile and decentralised work will only increase with time, the focus on the mental health of those working from home will become even sharper.
Wellbeing at work
We are now globally connected and always available, making structured working hours important to ensure that you can turn off your computer and enjoy a well-deserved break without feeling guilty. Companies that take the mental health of their employees seriously benefit from workers who are more loyal, motivated and innovative, proving that promoting good health goes hand in hand with success. A higher degree of identification with the company motivates employees, enables them to experience empowerment, lowers staff turnover, and ultimately saves money.
Everyone’s mental health matters
Working has a positive effect on mental health, but a negative work environment can lead to physical and psychological problems. Anyone who feels unsupported or unable to balance their family life with their work schedule will experience stress and deliver sub-par results. Sexual harassment, micromanaging and workplace bullying are also recognised problems and can have a tremendous impact on psychological health. Numerous effective methods can foster good mental health on the job.
How SwissGlobal handles this crucial issue
SwissGlobal has been using agile and decentralised forms of work ever since its founding as a means of fostering flexibility and motivation among all its employees. In addition, this Swiss language services provider from Baden places a top priority on ensuring top quality in all areas, both personal and professional. SwissGlobal not only delivers first-class language services using cutting-edge technology, it is also proactive in assisting its staff in maintaining good mental health. Perhaps some of our successful strategies could also have a positive effect in your company.
- Trusting and appreciative interactions on equal terms: We trust our employees, treat them as equals, and communicate with them on an equal footing. Trusting your employees ensures a positive atmosphere and promotes wellbeing in the long term at work.
- Open, transparent communication and a clear delegation of responsibilities: Unfortunately, for many people the concept of leadership is still strongly associated with authority and displays of power even though studies have long shown the benefits of a psychologically healthy leadership style. It is focused on dialogue and giving employees freedom to show initiative and act independently. Excessively rigid guidelines and a lack of decision-making freedom turn employees off.
- Early recognition of stress/burnout symptoms: Many people do their best to hide it when they are feeling stressed or mentally fatigued. We also encourage open communication in this area because prevention costs less than absences from work and resignations.
Stress has a negative effect on mental health in the long term. Employees who feel good at work and identify with their tasks are self-motivated and are also less susceptible to stress as a result. Eustress, on the other hand, is a type of energising, stimulating stress and generates creative approaches for finding solutions.
- A pleasant work environment can work wonders, whether it is the addition of some potted plants, a clean and tidy workspace, or designated rest areas.
- Regular breaks must be taken. They strengthen your sense of wellbeing, both physically and psychologically.
Sufficient exercise, a balanced diet and applied mindfulness are more important than ever for maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle in today’s climate. Each individual has a personal responsibility for their own health and this cannot be delegated.
Recognising and accepting that you yourself can also experience days when negative emotions take over are vital first steps to improving mental health at work.
However, personal responsibility also entails communicating with a manager or supervisor about mental health issues and/or grievances in the workplace to ensure that support is offered and changes are made.
Health is a management issue
Companies need to make sure that employee health – both mental and physical – is addressed on a management level. Anyone who takes this issue seriously and promotes all the aspects of their employees’ wellbeing will have workers who are visibly more satisfied and motivated, ultimately leading to lower costs and increased success.
In the end, prevention pays off in every case – for employees, management, and the health of the company itself.