The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. That is equivalent to 11,250 8-hour workdays. It’s safe to say that your job and workplace can have a considerable impact on your mental health and quality of life.
2020 proved to be a stressful year for employees in any workforce field. In the 2021 Work Health Survey conducted by Mental Health America (MHA), they set out to provide an opportunity to better understand four different mental health challenges that employees have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Financial Insecurity
With numerous workplaces adapting or closing completely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees faced concerns over their financial security. Financial insecurity has an impact on our self-worth, motivation, and mental health.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, between February and June 2020, the number of unemployed individuals increased by 15.9 million. In addition to living paycheck to paycheck, there are many employees who struggle to afford healthcare costs and save for emergency expenses. MHA’s 2020 Work Health Survey states that-“nearly 34 percent of respondents report that they are unable to afford their health care costs. Employees often struggle to pay premiums and cannot afford additional co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses, and out-of-network costs necessary to access needed care.” When we are overwhelmed with financial worries, how can we be present in the workplace? Many cannot, and are pushed deeper into stress and uncertainty. (To learn more about the services provided by The Village Financial Resource Center, visit HelpwithMoney.org)
2. Employee Burnout
Emotional exhaustion is one of the earliest signs of burnout. If you are feeling emotionally drained after a day of work, you are at a higher risk of workplace stress. According to MHA, nearly 83% of respondents felt emotionally drained from their work. In turn, emotional exhaustion can lead to anxiety and depression.
MHA’s findings support the fact that burnout is a threat to employee mental health regardless of company size, industry, or organizational rank. Some factors that contribute to burnout include long work hours, overwhelming workload, chronic staff shortages, an aggressive administrative environment, or lack of support from management.
3. Supervisor Support
Does your workplace offer enough supervisor support? About 59% of employees reported that they do not think their supervisor provides adequate emotional support to help manage their stress. It’s vital that employers cultivate a workplace that supports its employees’ emotional needs, now more than ever. If your workplace culture promotes supervisor support and guidance to help employees better manage their stress, employees feel more motivated to perform their jobs well.
Factors that contribute to employees feeling supported at work:
- Regular supervisor initiated check-ins
- Communication with supervisors about stressful things at work
- Knowledge of company resources and support
4. Workplace Stress and Mental Illness
MHA’s findings show that almost 9 in 10 employees agreed that their workplace stress affects their mental health. Workplace environments alone have drastically changed over the last year, with the addition of PPE, physical distancing guidelines, and the shift to remote working conditions. In addition to working full time, employees may have to juggle sharing a workspace at home with their children or spouse, or their remote work environment is not equipped with appropriate technology or access to reliable internet.
Considering the impact your workplace culture has on employee mental health is key in providing a mentally safe work environment. When employees suffer from too much stress in the workplace, employee morale and work ethic declines, and some employees are pushed to look for new employment opportunities just to get a break.
How can employers help?
- Provide a living wage with affordable employee health insurance, or access to HSA and FSA accounts.
- Address the early signs of burnout through intervention or workload adjustment.
- Be supportive and flexible by checking in regularly and offering realistic workplace expectations.
- Keep employees informed of policies and programs that support positive employee mental health, such as an EAP.
Forming a safe, supportive, and communicative work environment can make all the difference in employee satisfaction, retention, and safety. If your organization is interested in creating a healthier workplace, our Employee Assistance Program provided through The Village Business Institute can help. To learn more about The Village’s EAP impact and opportunities, you can call 1-800-627-8220.