Opinion  

Keeping the wolf from the door

Michelle Jackson

Michelle Jackson

Some third-party health care technology companies even give employees a private forum to talk about their mental health concerns, which can help those who may not yet be comfortable accessing online mental health materials in the workplace.

Companies are able to expand across continents with global buy-outs, meaning office moves and colleagues might be split across multiple time zones. This may be great for business, but The American Institute of Stress argues such changes can create a negative person-environment fit. Often, it’s not the job, but a company’s “always on culture” that leads to employee burn-out. 

According to a 2016 study, 48 per cent of millennial employees said they felt less fulfilled due to a decline in work/life balance and recognition for a job well done. For millennials, work/life integration is the new work/life balance. 

Believe it or not, giving your staff the flexibility to escape rigid work patterns could not only reduce employee stress, but also increase productivity.  In one of the largest global workplace surveys of its kind - Vodafone’s Flexible: friend or foe? - 83 per cent of respondents said adopting flexible working resulted in greater productivity and 61 percent said it helped increase company profits.

Flexibility is no longer just a case of work/life balance: it is a health issue and we can use it to support those who may need different work styles to prevent increasing stress and illness.

Stress is a major cause of workplace absence, and it can lead to or exacerbate mental health conditions, as well as other medical conditions if not managed properly. While the short-term responses to stress are usually harmless, long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious and costly issues.

For employers, workplace stress can lead to missed work, working while ill, lack of productivity, decline in morale, and costly health issues over time – all of which impact a company’s bottom line.

It’s in a company’s best interest to proactively and intentionally manage stress in the workplace. Training managers to spot the signs of stress and how to break the cycle of stress can prevent it from becoming a bigger problem, especially for at-risk employees. Other ways to manage stress in the workplace are to prioritize work-life balance, implement mindfulness programs, or use technology or apps that encourage mental breaks.

Building a general culture of health is the best way to create a positive environment that supports both physical and mental health. Offering a combination of programs that support your workplace demographic – including flexible working, EAPs, paid time off and other policies that support work/life integration, lunchtime exercise classes and an open-door approach to HR.