Stressed female thinking mental health problems workplace

A recent workplace mental health report revealed that more than 4 in 10 employees suffer from stress. Many factors account for this issue, like increasing workload, financial concerns, workplace bullying, or poor work-life balance. When left unaddressed, mental health concerns can lead to decreased productivity, employee burnout, and other long-term problems associated with performance. What can organisations do to prevent poor employee mental health and create an environment where everyone can thrive?

What are the main causes of mental health problems in the workplace?

The causes of workplace mental health problems are complex, but they all seem to be rooted in a few factors – lack of support and feeling overwhelmed. The fast-paced world and stress caused by the pandemic does not make it any easier for employees to handle work-related stresses.

Excessive workload

A key factor that leads many employees to develop mental health concerns is excessive workload. Many employees want to deliver the best results, meet deadlines, and complete all work assigned to them, easily leading to burnout.

Employees cannot say ‘no’ no new projects because of the fear of letting down their employer. They also do not want to feel disloyal or uncooperative in the workplace. This leads many individuals to take on more than they can achieve within a certain timeframe. As a result, their work-life balance becomes very dysfunctional – which is the first step in developing other more serious conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

Some potential serious side effects of excessive and overwhelming workload are health problems, conflicts at home, and reduced motivation. When employees spend too much time at work, their personal lives are compromised. Besides, high-stress levels caused by too much work can lead to health concerns like high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle.

How to help employees manage excessive workload

Employers can support employees who deal with overwhelming workloads by offering time management training, quiet work areas, and task management software. Another effective solution is to implement daily briefings where employees are supported to prioritise the most urgent tasks that need to be addressed. By doing this, they focus on several tasks at a time instead of trying to fit endless projects within a single day.

Financial concerns

2 in 10 employees agreed that financial problems are the leading cause of their mental health issues. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Reports show that the average household in the UK owes around £13,000, without considering their mortgage. Financial stress also comes from debt, estimated at 27.4% out of a household income, the highest figure in eight years.

Financial problems cause many employees to work overtime and pick up extra responsibilities to pay off debt or ensure a sensible lifestyle. The rise of living costs also increases stress and anxiety – it is not uncommon for a large percentage of the population to worry about having enough money to take vacations, pay for medical treatments, or afford childcare. This activates a vicious cycle where money-related stress leads people to work more, which leaves them fatigued and less able to cope with financial stress.

Some side effects of financial concerns are behavioural changes (alcohol or tobacco use, isolations from social opportunities), insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Poor mental health can also make managing money a lot harder, which leads people to spend more in an attempt to relieve emotional discomfort and stress.

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How to support financial concerns

Organisations need to remember that some employees might be embarrassed to bring up money-related concerns to their employers. In general, financial conversations in the workplace should be approached with caution and respect, as this might be a sensitive topic for many. Employers can support their staff by ensuring that they are always paid on time and prioritizing this. Besides, organisations can also offer access to an Employee Assistance Programme specialising in finances.

Some other ways in which employers can reduce financial stress are:

  • Providing training and education on budgeting, managing debt, and investing
  • Auto-enrollment in pension plans and schemes that allow employees to save money for the future
  • Allowing employees to work from home to reduce costs associated with travelling
  • Offering mental health support to reduce the stress associated with money

Workplace bullying

1 in 10 employees reported poor mental health as a result of workplace bullying. Unfortunately, this issue is more common than many expect, with 75% of people affected. While bullying is clearly detrimental to employee wellbeing, it is also costly to businesses – ACAS estimated that bullying-related absences and staff turnover cost around £18 billion per year.

Even more concerning, bullying creates long-term serious mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic attacks, depression, anxiety disorders, and insomnia. Added to these are the behavioural changes and decreased productivity caused by the aforementioned mental health problems. This only means one thing for organisational success: a less efficient workforce and compromised results.

When it comes to the direct impact that bullying has on staff, some serious implications need to be mentioned. Firstly, bullying increases the risk of health concerns like high blood pressure, stress and anxiety disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Bullied employees are also less confident, have lower self-esteem, and cannot sustain long-term motivation and productivity.

It is also worth mentioning that workplace bullying affects corporate reputation. Unhappy employees who leave their job as a result of bullying turn to certain websites to talk about their experience with a company. This compromises the chances of attracting future talent and can also lower the company’s standards.

What is the solution to workplace bullying?

However, there are certain measures that can be employed to eliminate bullying from the workplace. The first step in doing that is that leaders become aware of what’s happening in employee relationships. Besides, managers have to lead by example and set a standard of communication where everyone is valued and treated with respect. Employers can also reduce the risk of bullying by:

  • Implementing a clear anti-bullying policy would make it clear to anyone in an organisation that bullying is not acceptable under any circumstance. Besides, this policy would also set consequences for anyone who engages in this type of behaviour.
  • Leaders and managers can demonstrate a zero-tolerance for bullying from the top level by example. This can create a culture where respect and appreciation are the core foundation of the business.
  • Raising awareness – organisations can show commitment to anti-bullying practices by sharing informational materials, sending employee newsletters, or creating anti-bullying events.

What can organisations do to support workplace wellbeing?

Besides the aforementioned measures, organisations have to show a consistent commitment to improving employee mental health, regardless of the type of issues affecting their workforce. This can be achieved by showing a willingness to listen and collaborate with employees on all matters. In practice, this might mean that employers set up monthly meetings where they evaluate and discuss the most pressing issues affecting their employees.

Employers can ensure that staff have reliable resources in place if they want to talk to a mental health professional. Allowing access to workplace therapy can make a massive difference in employee stress levels. For example, regular therapy can help many people tackle the sources of their stress on time before they build up and develop into a more serious mental health issue.

Countless research studies already prove the benefits of regular therapy. Patients who seek professional support are shown to be more resilient, have better self-awareness, and improved emotional wellbeing.

How can SupportRoom help

Digital therapy providers are an excellent choice when it comes to employee mental health. SupportRoom offers flexible mental health support for employees in the form of online therapy, self-help tools, and wellbeing monitoring. Besides, it provides leaders with the opportunity to track what’s happening in the workplace and identify the main stressors. This allows them to implement changes and mental health initiatives knowing exactly what’s going on behind the scenes.

You can find out more information about SupportRoom here.

Do you want to find out how we can bring mental support to your organization? Book a call and let’s get to know each other.

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