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Society: Mental Health At Work

This phrase is probably not unknown to you. Many people believe that burnout, or professional exhaustion, is linked to individual strength of character and, therefore, reflects someone’s weakness. However, mental health remains an essential variable for everyone and should not be ignored, even less out of fear of what others will look at.

Recently, and little considered at the beginning, the concept of burnout has been recognized as a health problem by the WHO since 2019. The latter has nevertheless maintained for more than ten years the need to take care of mental health, including at work. Observed out of the corner of the eye for years, this subject took on all the spotlight following the Covid crisis, which strained the mental stability of the entire world. In particular, teleworking practiced during these long months proved to isolate a large part of the population.

Workers thus faced in their employment:

  • An intensification of the workload;
  • Abnormal hours, a confusing and dual work environment (professional and personal);
  • A significant loss of social connections;
  • A reduction in the feeling of usefulness in their role in the company;
  • A new use of digital tools, sometimes poorly suited to teleworking;
  • A questioning of their abilities and their personal and professional benchmarks in general.

This upheaval has undoubtedly been the most significant in recent decades and has pushed us to question many habits and benchmarks. It is now estimated that teleworking has quadrupled since the pandemic’s start. But let’s return to the essence of the question: why is work so important to us?

The causes of a deterioration in mental health at work

  • Location and working conditions: noisy, unwelcoming place, teleworking with a cluttered or cramped space;
  • Treatment of hierarchy: lack of consideration, ignorance, exclusions from meetings or daily conversations, recurring reprimands, lack of communication;
  • Relations with colleagues: implicit and explicit harassment, various conflicts;
  • Intensity of work: staggered hours, heavy workload, violation of the right to disconnect;
  • Emotional requirement: not letting your emotions show, having a poker face, and holding back your feelings, which ultimately increases the emotional burden;
  • Conflicts of values ​​with the company: the methods used do not correspond to your ethics;
  • Lack of autonomy and excessive restrictions: no freedom or creativity possible.

The health crisis, having highlighted these different aspects, does not mean the end of psychological disorders; quite the contrary. If we are slowly starting to return to our respective lifestyles, our mental health remains impacted by these last months and must remain the centre of our attention.

The deterioration of our well-being at work results from an imbalance between a person’s available resources and the situations created by the work environment. In other words, we all have a capacity for resistance that allows us to combat the inconveniences of everyday life. On the other hand, a surplus of nuisances pushes us to our limits and thus disrupts this balance of well-being.

Also Read: Quality At Work: 5 Tips To Get It

Symptoms of burnout

Here is a non-exhaustive list of symptoms that can alert you to the state of health of one of your colleagues or even your own. A simple behaviour change can be a clue, so don’t hesitate to talk with this person. Some symptoms:

  • No commitment, increasing nonchalance;
  • Development of an addiction: tobacco, food, alcohol, gambling;
  • Lack of productivity;
  • Irritability, recurring misunderstandings, negative attitude, passive-aggressive;
  • Abnormal lack of punctuality;
  • Social anxiety, rejection of interactions with peers;
  • Reduced cognitive performance: impaired memory, lack of logic and clarity, confusion;
  • Bad decision-making, haste;
  • In the company: significant turnover (salary turnover), regular absenteeism, and drop in productivity on an individual and collective scale.

How can you counteract these symptoms and avoid total exhaustion?

For you or anyone else, it’s never too late to act. Who knows? Your words may resonate with others as they should.

Some companies have used employee assistance programs (EAP) for several years to support their employees. These programs are specific to each organization and offer particular attention to employees to help them with the problems they face, thus relieving them of a mental burden that can be significant. One means implemented can be an online concierge service: an external service provider who listens to employees almost 24/7 or support from an expert firm in work psychology.

Here are some methods to anticipate employee burnout:

  • Proactive and non-reactive solution: act before symptoms appear without waiting for them;
  • Active resources: using psychologists, support and clinical service;
  • Create a relaxation space and increase the number of mini breaks to clear your mind and clear your mind;
  • Create a nap space: start-up or not; this system has proven itself!
  • Regularly send anonymous questionnaires on well-being: to extend a pole without making people feel uncomfortable;
  • Impose an annual session with a psychologist;
  • Organization of seminars: to bring teams together and provide mutual support;
  • For employees: learn to say no to avoid additional sources of stress; accepting a thousand and one tasks is good, and accomplishing them is better.

Know how to ask for help: turn to a loved one, a colleague, a psychologist, occupational medicine, or someone you trust, no matter who they are, as long as you share.

What to do in case of burnout?

The moment when one is at the end of his rope can, of course, arrive. In this case, taking the time and taking care of yourself to reflect and calmly consider the future is better. You will probably be able to take time off and may even change jobs or companies if you see no other way out. Implementing part-time work or a transfer within the same structure is also a solution for returning to a different pace.

Furthermore, if your discomfort comes from a tense relationship with your superiors, do not hesitate to find out and ask for help to respect your rights. Exhaustion generally has repercussions on those around you and your colleagues. You should, therefore, be able to detect some clues in a loved one just as they should notice them for you.

As for companies, they lose out when they do not care about the health of their workers: this represents a cost for them because days off are more frequent, and the same goes for sick leave. We also observe a drop in productivity, more significant annual salary turnover, an individualization of tasks, and a lack of communication. The three challenges for companies are to have employees who are committed to their work, loyal to their position and know how to take risks, knowing they are supported afterwards.

We cannot perform well if we do not fully possess our means. Professional fulfilment necessarily includes good mental health. The internal relationships of a company are essential, and etiquette must be a common interest. Exchanging, communicating, and supporting each other ensures the health of all. Consultants are also part of the companies where they are on a mission, and their independent status does not detract from their necessary integration into the team.

Also Read: Is Time Running Against You? Efficient Work or Conscious Work?

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