Mental Health in the Workplace: How are you today?
How our team leaders affect our mental health
Business world becomes tougher and tougher every day in this fast-moving era. Competition, economic instability, market requirements, and now the pandemic create extremely high stress. Business owners and superiors increase their expectations and ask every employee to do more; targets get higher and higher for better financial results, greater market shares, bigger profits, etc. It is all about finance! However, the main purpose of good financial results is to have people live happy and fulfilling lives! If companies want to offer their employees happy and fulfilling lives, then they should first of all provide happy and humane workplaces.
How much are you really aware of your colleagues’/employees’/subordinates’ mental or emotional states? How much do you care? What is your first reaction when someone in your team/division/company has been less productive recently?
Of course, it is important that you have the right person for a job; a hardworking, ambitious employee who respects and adapts to company values and goals. Even if you, as a leader, have built the perfect team, things may change suddenly. Productivity may decline or team members may look unhappy. The way you handle the situation may lead things to success or employee mental health issues.
If someone starts to show signs, such as lack of concentration, unproductiveness, a new pattern of absence and/or tardiness, long-lasting sadness or shortness of temper, demotivation or they simply don’t want to talk and mingle with people, or use alcohol or drugs to deal with negative feelings, please keep in mind that this person may be struggling with a mental health issue. Certainly, it is crucial at a workplace to notice behaviors like this, and distinguish whether it is due to a biological factor, a defined illness, or one of many environmental reasons which contribute to one’s mental health problems.
Triggers in the work environment and leaders’ effect
Think about a newly assigned “director” calling the subordinate manager after work hours just to remind that he sent an e-mail for a meeting next day. Or a “general manager” who often shouts to the employees either to give “orders” or just to express his/her discontentment, stepping over the employee’s manager. Imagine a sales manager who drinks almost a bottle of herbal sedative before the performance meetings where the “executive” interrogates the attendants. Or an “executive” who insists in having a private dinner with the subordinate, threatens to fire her when he gets rejected. All these have happened, they are not fiction.
These are quite common incidents of workplace bullying and harassment and they are indications of:
· Lack of recognition;
· Public humiliation about employee’s performance or personal subjects;
· Persistent, unfair criticism;
· Setting unrealistic goals and creating unreasonable stress about performance;
· Repeatedly shouting, having a constant interrogating manner;
· Verbal abuse, threats…
It is obvious that the reactions to such a disrespectful treatment of people at a workplace will vary, but it is also very likely that it will create anger, lack of self-esteem, fear, insecurity, anxiety, demotivation, and declining productivity. These may have serious consequences on one’s mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. Anything that doesn’t fit this description should urgently be looked into.
What can leaders do?
Whatever the triggers are, it is everyone’s, especially the leaders’ duty to be aware of such situations and take the necessary steps to help the people who are dealing with mental issues:
· Above all, let’s always remember that we are all human beings; health and well-being are the most valuable treasures!
· Let’s acknowledge that prevention is better than cure. Thus, observe, acknowledge and intervene at early stages of serious incidents or conflicts. It is important to know your team members and build good relationships based on respect, trust, and honesty. It’s also crucial to acknowledge each employee’s strengths and success.
· Let’s increase awareness about mental health in a workplace (and anywhere else, for that matter).
· Let’s set the human resource approaches right to be able to help people who struggle with emotional and mental disorders.
· Let’s acknowledge that the leaders’ focus must always be people first!
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