Some Things You Need To Know:
Stress Is Cited As A Top Global Health Risk
For the majority of organizations around the world stress was singled out as the prime threat to health, according to Buck Consultants’ third annual global wellness survey, Working Well: A Global Survey of Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies.
Canadians Are Stressed Out
According to a Desjardins Financial Security National Health Survey of 1,769 Canadian workers, 30% of respondents feel more stress now than they did last year. Many workers blame their employers for not alleviating some of those stresses. Only 32% of respondents felt their employer helped them better manage their stress at work. Workers suggested employers needed to provide better recognition (36%), provide employees with better work tools (19%) and improve the work environment and working conditions overall (31% and 26% respectively).
Absenteeism Is Steadily Increasing
Work absence rates among Canadian employees have been steadily increasing for more than a decade. Statistics Canada reported in its 2009 Work Absence Rate report that in an average week in 1999, 6.0% of full-time employees holding one job were absent from work for all or part of the week for personal reasons. By 2009, the figure had risen to 8.2%. Total work time missed also rose, from 3.2% of the scheduled week in 1999 to 3.9% in 2009.
According to a study by the London School of Economics, 75% of medical absences are not medical. These absences could be personal (family, alcohol, finances, job satisfaction), organizational (related to the manager, shift, people policies, team or conflict) or macro context (climate, epidemics, day of the week, employment options).
Absenteeism Can Be A Sign Of Burnout
The odds of burnout are higher than ever, as many people have been asked to do more with less.
The Mayo Clinic has identified 13 signs that job burnout may be afoot:
- Being more cynical, critical and sarcastic at work.
- Loss of the ability to experience joy.
- Difficulty getting into work and getting started once there.
- Increasingly irritable and less patient with co-workers, customers or clients.
- Feeling like there are insurmountable barriers at work.
- Lacking the energy to be consistently productive.
- No longer feeling satisfaction from your achievements.
- Having a hard time laughing at oneself.
- Co-workers constantly asking “Are you OK?”
- Feeling disillusioned about the job.
- Self-medicating – using food, drugs or alcohol – to feel better or to simply not feel.
- Changing sleep habits or appetite.
- Troubled by unexplained headaches, neck pain or lower back pain.
Burnout to Depression to Suicide
- Talking about suicide or death.
- Making statements like “I wish I were dead” or “I’m going to end it all.”
- Less direct verbal cues, including “What’s the point of living?”, “Soon you won’t have to worry about me” and “Who cares if I’m dead, anyway?”
- Uncharacteristically isolating themselves from others in the workplace.
- Expressing feelings that life is meaningless or hopeless.
- Giving away cherished possessions.
- A sudden and unexplained improvement in mood after being depressed or withdrawn.
- Neglect of appearance and hygiene.
- Sudden unexplained deterioration of work performance or productivity.
These warning signs can indicate that a person has serious problems that cona impact his or her life, productivity and the work environment. Workplaces need to understand, recognize and act on these warning signs, in order to help someone find professional assistance and become healthier, happier, and more productive.
Mentally Healthy Workplaces Start At The Top
Employers need to take action to help their employees remain healthy. Effective policies and programs need to be woven into the culture of the company. Some ways that employers can create a healthy workplace include:
- offering flexible working arrangements and other work-life balance programs;
- reducing excessive workloads;
- providing clear job expectations;
- creating a conflict resolution program;
- offering appropriate training and tools for the role;
- ensuring transparency in your communications;
- offering opportunities for employees to have input; and
- implementing wellness programs that help in maintaining mental and physical health.
Beverly’s Comments – What does this mean for your wellness programming?
How are you focusing on the mental health of your employees?
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!
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