World mental health day: why resilience in the workplace is so important
10 October 2022
Your job is an important part of your life. You spend a lot of hours at work, so you had better feel good about it. Fortunately, there has been an increasing focus on mental health in recent years, but this also shows that there are still a lot of problems.
Today is 'world mental health day', an ideal time for international recruitment agency Robert Walters to take a moment to reflect on the importance of resilience and mental health in the workplace.
Although - thankfully - more people are seeking help for their mental health problems, there is still a certain taboo surrounding the topic. Moreover, an increased number of employees are dropping out due to burnout or stress. World Health Organisation (WHO) even names stress as "the global health epidemic of the 21st century". This shows just how many problems remain around mental health. So a day like 'World Mental Health Day' where we all take a moment to reflect on the mental health of employees is certainly not unnecessary.
Professionals who possess high resilience are less likely to suffer mental health problems. They can adapt better to difficult situations and can usually cope better with criticism and setbacks. Those who are less resilient are more likely to accumulate stress and negative feelings, with negative consequences. These workers experience burnout or depression, which often leads to their absence from the workplace for an extended period of time.
Although professionals with low resilience are particularly at risk of mental health problems, actually anyone can face them sooner or later. There are several reasons for this. A recent report by Robert Walters revealed the main reasons for poor mental health in the workplace. Too much work pressure, a poor work-life balance, too little support from colleagues or supervisors, or a lack of appreciation often turn out to be the trigger for mental health problems.
Mental health is fortunately more discussable today than it used to be, and yet a lot of employees are afraid to talk about it. When professionals suffer from physical problems, for instance, they are more likely to take time off to recover from their injuries. But for mental health problems, the situation is still different. As many as 92% of the employees surveyed said they thought that admitting these problems could harm their careers. A substantial number of workers suffer in silence, not seeking help for fear of putting a "dent" in their career
Unfortunately, burnout or depression are not the only dangers for people suffering from mental health problems. We often see a significant decrease in their commitment to the organisation, which impacts their performance, commitment, and motivation. And this, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will decide to look for a new job. Such staff turnover, in turn, and eventually increases recruitment costs. As a manager, you therefore have every interest in keeping your employees as healthy as possible to ensure continuity in the organisation and the team.
"Fortunately, you can train resilience," explains Özlem Simsek, managing director at Robert Walters. "How you deal with stress and setbacks is largely down to your mindset. It is about the way you think. If you can be more positive in life, and adjust your way of thinking, it will quickly have a positive effect on your resilience. Taking a 'increase resilience' workshop, or visiting a career coach, can certainly contribute to that."
Managers, in turn, can help their employees by initially offering a listening ear. Özlem: As a manager, you can also try to find out whether there might be an internal cause for your employee's mental health problems. For example, is the workload too high? Or am I expecting too much from my people? Am I giving them enough time between deadlines?"
In organisations where there is an open and positive corporate culture, we tend to see fewer mental health problems among employees. "Space for relaxation and flexibility, and a realistic workload are therefore an absolute necessity. But as a manager, you should also work on communication around mental health in the workplace. That way, the topic is taken a bit more out of the taboo and resilience is created in the team. Think here, for example: a testimonial from a colleague, or a short monthly meeting with the team where there is space for everyone to discuss the topic."
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