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The article that ruined my day - Part 1

Posted by Sharon Hudson on 19 June 2018
The article that ruined my day - Part 1

I usually start my day with a read-around of curated articles, delivered to my inbox by, NextDrat (The day's most fascinating news from Dave Pell) and Medium ( a place to read, write, and interact with the stories that matter most to you)

Between the two emails, it is possible for me to miss the whole morning as I read the articles curated explicitly for me, then and follow links to related articles, in an attempt to keep up with what is happening in the world and especially in my discipline, the world of work. and so it was yesterday, and it took me down a dark track.

The title that caught my interest was "Half of employees would quit their job because of this," and "this", to my surprise, was cited as, " lack of support around mental health." Can you believe it? A report from CV-Library (a UK recruiting firm) released just this week,  finds that 42.9% of employees believe certain aspects of their job make them feel anxious or depressed. Also, worryingly, 77% of workers think there's still a taboo surrounding mental health discussions making them less likely to voice their concerns.

I was horrified and started following the links to validate the data I was reading. Surely, I thought, this could not be substantiated and verified,  so I followed the links. Here is a here is a glimpse of where it took me.  However, I don't recommend you read the articles -- it is too depressing!

Half of UK workers consider quitting their jobs, due to lack of support around mental health;


Half of employees would quit their job because of this  - another article about the same article

Work a key factor in depression and anxiety - HR magazine

The effects of employment on the mental health and executive ...
 

This is bad, I thought. Then calming myself I considered this was all UK reporting, Australian workplaces are more aware and active. A quick google search (some of the article links are below)confirmed that despite the efforts of hard work HR leaders are doing to eradicate the stigma around mental health, and improve workplace wellbeing; it seems as if workers are just not feeling it.


Feeling under pressure at work is common, but it is also serious and could lead to anxious and depressive feelings

A third of corporate Australia is feeling stressed, anxious and depressed


Back that original, disturbing article. The two statistics quoted at the beginning of the material caused me much angst. For two different, but not disparate, reasons.


Statistic One -  Diagram 1

42.9% of employees believe certain aspects of their job make them feel anxious or depressed.

Problem One:  What is so wrong about work today that almost half of workers feel anxious or depressed when they think about their job?

Statistic Two - Diagram 2

77% of workers think there's still a stigma about discussing mental health making them less likely to seek assistance themselves, or voice concerns for others

Problem Two:  What is so wrong about work today, that more than three-quarters of workers do not feel ok about raising a workplace wellbeing issue?

Greater Problem:  What is the nexus of these statistics and problems? What percentage of workers, with problem one do you think would also be affected by problem two? Simple math puts it at anywhere from 56% (Diagram 1) to 100% (Diagram 2).

Venn Diagram 1 Minimum Overlap      Venn Diagram 2  Maximum Overlap

 

Let's look a bit more closely at Problem One:  What is so wrong about work today that almost half of workers feel anxious or depressed when they think about their job?

Is this problem about:

  1.   The Work Role and/or Environment
  2.   The individual Worker
  3.   A combination of 1 and 2 above
  4.   A combination of all of the above?

I sense that it is option 4.

The solution is, therefore, has to be a multi-faceted approach.

Moving on to problem two:  77% of workers think there's still a stigma about discussing mental health making them less likely to seek assistance themselves, or voice concerns for others.

Is this problem about:

  1.   Individual workers harbour  a stigma about of mental well-being generally
  2.   Workers sense a shame about mental health at their workplace
  3.   Workplaces, typically, still harbour a stigma about mental health
  4.  The combination, of all of the above.

Again, I sense that option 4 prevails.
So again, the solution is multi-faceted.

I will analyse and synthesise these two problems in more detail in the next part of this article.

Individually these are complex problems, but their presentation in unison emits negatively synergistic outcomes which become self-perpetuating at the systemic level.

No wonder this study found that almost half of employees have considered resigning from a job due to lack of support for mental health.

"It's sad to learn that professionals aren't feeling supported by their employers when it comes to their mental health and it's clear more needs to be done to tackle this," added Lee Biggins, MD at CV-Library.

"With almost half confessing that they've thought about quitting a job due to lack of support, employers need to know how to address these issues. Otherwise, they may risk losing talented employees."

60% of those asked said they're too embarrassed to disclose any information about their mental health to their employers and two- thirds feel guilty for taking time off for mental health reasons.

When asked how employers could help them feel more supported at work, the majority of employees think their employers should offer mental health days for staff, and 88.4% also said that the management should be given training in how to promote mental wellbeing.

Employee suggestions cited in one report were:
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance 38.6%
  • Create an environment where mental health is not stigmatised - 15%
  • Refer employees to a counselling service 13.7%
  • Talk more openly about mental health 11.9%
  • Have an internal counselling service for staff 10.6%
How do we get to the stage, or will we ever get to a time, when we can confidently and kindly approach a staff member we think may be struggling and offer help and hope? 

Maybe a smaller step would be to aim to comfortably encourage our staff members to tell us if they are struggling? That's not going to happen until staff members feel safe and trust that the outcome will be in their best interests. That is, that they will come out of the conversation feeling better than when they went in.

This is still a very delicate subject, an honest, confident and a pro-active approach will all stand you in good stead for supporting your team and contribute to creating positively engaging workplaces TM.

 

If you are wondering what would be an excellent first step contact Sharon at Talent Tools on 1800 768 569 or email sharon@talenttools.com.au for

a free 30-minute solution-focused strategy session.

Author: Sharon Hudson
Tags: Workplace Resilience Resilience at Work

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