October, Mental Health Month: A Time to Focus on the Well-Being of Our Employees – ORH

Think for a moment, have you ever been in a company where you felt taken care of physically and psychologically? Have you tried wellness programs? Do you know measures to improve your psychological state? There are many people who believe that taking care of their mental health is important.

6 out of 10 workers may consider changing and leaving their current job, according to surveys conducted by employment portals such as Grupo Adecco and Infoempleo in this 2022. The following question is timely, what is really happening in companies in Spain for its employees to Are they considering leaving or resigning from their jobs?

The reasons can be many and varied. Some could be related to issues and debates already known and raised by organizations years ago in HR forums and debates, such as: talent attraction; motivation and career development. Others may be motivated by new and uncontrollable circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a sudden shift in the company-employee relationship model as physical and mental health were seen as threatened.

Prevention and intervention in the face of psychosocial risks is the duty of organizations that have been suddenly compromised with the problems associated with these risks. The unpredictability of the virus made us aware of the danger and made us question the priority values ​​in our lives, put us in a state of alarm and defense and fear mechanisms were accentuated, which mainly affected sectors related to public services, health and education.

In short, a number of ongoing factors are causing employees’ priorities to begin to shift. Aspects related to the reconciliation of professional and family life, global health care (physical and mental), in addition to emotional stability for personal and professional development within the company, as well as the importance and significance of this for our lives, have this, which we do every day in our work. And not everyone experienced it calmly, on the contrary, the uncertainty and dangers led to a sharp increase in mental problems.

The data speaks for itself, and according to the latest European Health Survey in Spain (INE, 2021), some form of depression may affect more than 2 million adults, which corresponds to 5.4% of the population. country, and of that total, for 230,000 people, their symptoms would be serious. Similarly, one can speak of anxiety disorders of lesser or greater severity and with higher prevalence rates in women (double) compared to men.

Coinciding with the fact that World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10, this may be a good opportunity for companies to implement measures related to this area. How to deal with these situations that affect the health of its members at the organizational level? Are companies ripe for this mental health debate?

Companies with the largest number of employees and the highest income and influence can be a good indicator of the field of mental health.

According to the III edition of the “IBEX 35 Observatory. Health, well-being and sustainability in IBEX 35 companies”, 70% have already fulfilled some projects and interventions specifically for the mental health of their employees.

This is good data as it can be incrementally replicated and similar measures can be developed in smaller companies.

Guidelines for looking after the welfare and mental health of employees

  • Corporate strategies for wellness and mental health. Define planned and temporary programs with specific mental health actions, as 3 out of 4 BNEB 35 companies have specific programs to care for the mental health of their employees. Actions that are part of the wider concept of a healthy company and which covers mental health, physical health, nutrition, physical sports activities, office design, promoting social and family life, digital disruption, health education and information, etc. The mental aspect needs to be taken care of, for example improving conditions for work-family balance, digital disruption, defining roles, tasks and workloads, training to manage stress in situations of uncertainty, proper training when changing the technological environment or from the economic itself efficiency that generates pressure at all levels of the company. Training in healthy work habits appears essential, along with training in psychological self-care measures.
  • Change behavior to change the work environment and attitude towards well-being. You don’t need to be a big company or use big budgets to generate wealth; It can start with small actions and with a change in the perception of the subject, giving voice to all levels that make up the organization, opening the debate on mental health. SMEs themselves can develop projects without overspending their budgets in this regard. If the worker feels that he is cared for, he is listened to, he is given a say in this aspect, he improves his performance, the perception of his company and therefore his mental health. There can be investment in programs, but there can also be changes in behavior that stimulate and facilitate psychological well-being. These changes in behavior correspond to a strategy of seeking workers’ well-being.
  • Changing the perception of HR departments, organizational culture and the work environment. One of the most radical changes in organizational culture could be the step forward of human resources departments and, apart from the main functions that can be understood as personnel management and labor relations, make room for others related to the care of the employee and their mental health. The basics are covered in accordance with the Prevention of Occupational Risks Act, but you can expand, propose and develop actions and conditions for better mental health of the members of your organization. The HR department as a nerve center for listening, caring, emotional validation and advice in this area.
  • Integrating psychological services into organizations. Related to the previous point, the inclusion of mental health professional profiles in HR departments. For example, the figure of the health psychologist at work, who can give advice on basic aspects of mental health such as those related to stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, boredom, bullying at work, etc. Provide initial care and, when appropriate, refer or refer other professionals. It can be accompanied by training, psychoeducation and/or coaching and even therapy to provide healthy tools to teams and departments according to their needs. Sometimes it is better to prevent than to be clear about the problem.
  • Management involvement and leadership training. A study (Amar, 2014) serves as a reference, stating that the development of mindfulness improves leadership capacity in middle and higher positions, as emotional intelligence is developed and thus improves the relationship with subordinates, their empathy and their assertiveness . In this way, senior and middle positions can communicate and share the corporate vision and bring organizational goals closer to individual employee goals. Conveying the values ​​and goals of the company is possible thanks to the improvement of communication skills such as active listening. In this case, it is a reflection of the internal communicative improvement that individuals experience as they are more aware of the message and content and can express themselves more effectively. As a result, mental health improves collectively in the organization.

As described, companies can (and should) take a leading and important role in the well-being of their workers.

Gone is the simple transaction of salary for services rendered; the company must provide a plus in the welfare of its employees. The economic wage remained as a minimum incentive that required a supplement to the emotional wage…

The a difficult skill Training, qualifications and skills are a must when we do related recruitment, but we must also pay attention to the no less important Soft skills, in this case mental health related, for example emotional intelligence, change management, uncertainty or stress.

The COVID pandemic has changed the perception of our physical and mental health, we have seen our own vulnerability face to face. A change is needed that will lead to the development and attention of these healthy aspects by companies. If not, in many cases it can lead to the loss of talent and in more extreme cases even their own extinction. Furthermore, we cannot forget that prevention and intervention in the face of psychosocial risks is a legal obligation for companies.

Content written by TherapyChat’s Clinical Content Team, led by Isabel Aranda, Health Psychologist and Chief Content Officer.

Photo by Total Shape on Unsplash

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