'Work-related mental health conditions are becoming more and more prevalent'
Worry, fatigue and self-criticism are on the rise amongst employees and putting productivity and mental health at risk according to research by Springfox.
Individual resilience, which heavily impacts performance, is influenced by 60 various factors of mental and physical well-being.
The report titled ‘Reduce Risk, Lift Performance,’ analysed 7,473 users of The Resilience Institute’s GDPR compliant platform (of which 1,705 were Australian) from January 2019 to December 2019, to evaluate how the global and local workforce measured across each of the 60 factors.
The analysis found 40% of global respondents reported low levels of personal resilience and were at risk of ‘occupational burnout’ — a term which emerged in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as an occupational phenomenon.
Moreover, within the context of COVID-19, workforce and individual resilience levels are only set to deteriorate further.
Social isolation, changes to ways of working, and the pressure to provide value in challenging and fast-evolving environments are significant factors that could put people at much greater risk of experiencing mental health issues and burnout.
HRD recently spoke to Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers, who said the good news is resilience can be taught.
“Every individual and every organisation has the ability to learn better resilience through specific practices and processes.”
For example, Baumgartner said transparent communication is an important organisational tool to help build resilience because it reduces uncertainty, which is one of the biggest threats to employee engagement.
Moreover, two-way communication is critical. Baumgartner said you have to be able to listen to your employees in real or near-real time, and respond quickly and appropriately.
Stuart Taylor, CEO of Springfox, added that the recent global events surrounding the pandemic will likely have a huge impact on the mental fitness of our workforce.
“As we now collectively grapple with the repercussions of a changing and uncertain world, we predict feelings of angst, fatigue and worry will worsen if employers do not intervene and take proactive measures to protect and strengthen their workers’ resilience,” said Taylor.
“Work-related mental health conditions are becoming more and more prevalent, to the point where physical health and safety is no longer the most critical risk in the workplace.
“Studies suggest that by the year 2030, one in five people will suffer from some kind of mental ill-health, and in many cases, this could have been prevented.”
Taylor added that it’s important for organisation’s leaders to understand what factors are putting their teams at risk so that they can address them, especially in these challenging times.
“There’s a direct link between a person’s mental health and resilience so we need to ensure that the workforce is still able to access evidence-based programs that will have a positive impact on their well-being.”
Taylor offers the following tips for building resilience during COVID-19:
- Stay connected. Having strong, positive relationships with friends and family is important for maintaining mental well-being. Stay connected and spend time enjoying the presence of loved ones daily – whether this is over a phone call or through sharing a meal together.
- Focus on what brings joy. All work and no play will quickly place you on the fast-track to burnout. Avoid viewing leisure as a luxury and make time to enjoy the things you love doing. Hobbies are beneficial for mental performance and play a key role in maintaining resilience, especially in isolation.
- Prioritise sleep. Sleep is vital for a healthy body and mind. Lock in your wake-up time 7 days a week and encourage a restful, restorative sleep by cutting out caffeine after 2pm.
- Commit to regular exercise. Exercise plays an integral role in both mental and physical well-being by promoting cardiovascular fitness and boosting endorphin levels.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. Being in tune with your emotions will help protect your mental well-being in stressful times. If it’s not something you’ve regularly done before, give guided meditation apps a try.
- Aim for realistic optimism. Particularly in times of isolation and uncertainty, our thoughts are more likely to become pessimistic and irrational. It is critical that we catch, check and change our thoughts to be more realistic and optimistic so we can maintain hope and move forward with purpose.