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Caring for Your Employees’ Mental Health

The organisational costs of employee burnout cannot be overstated. By some estimates, we are reaching a full-blown crisis in this area, but this situation is preventable. A Stress and Wellbeing survey undertaken by the Australian Psychological Society found that 26% of Australians experience levels of anxiety that are higher than normal. A 2014 report found that for every $1 that a workplace invests in mental health initiatives, there is a $2.30 return. 

Mental health in the workplace is commonly overlooked with regard to corporate culture, but the two cannot be separated from one another. Productivity decreases, as workers are 63% more likely to take a sick day and a little over two and a half times more likely to seek employment elsewhere. For these reasons, it is vital to understand the signs of exhaustion and the factors that contribute to it. 

When All is Not Well

Wellbeing does not deteriorate in a day, and when it does, you’ll start to notice your labourers becoming disengaged. A person may seem disconnected from the task at hand, and it won’t be a one-time occurrence. This will undoubtedly lead to a lag in their performance, as they seem to have little interest in the outcome of their efforts. 

Exhaustion is another telltale indicator there is trouble on the horizon. This will sometimes express itself in muscle aches, headaches, weight gain, or it may simply look like a person who is neglecting his or her appearance. 

Absenteeism is a dead giveaway as is an increase in the frequency of accidents. Chronic stress makes it harder to focus on the task at hand, resulting in mistakes. This is largely due to a lack of concentration and fatigue, and a worker may appear to be drained on a fairly regular basis. 

Though it can be hard to detect this next clue, a sense of failure can pervade your employee’s thoughts. He or she can feel as if they are unable to do anything right, leading to a greater sense of despondency. Everything feels like an uphill battle, and their outlook begins to worsen. Burnout, unfortunately, is often a spiral that is easy to slip into once the process has begun. 

Someone suffering in this way will usually be less engaged with other employees, even seeming irritable and easily upset. The good news is that even though much of this outcome has to do with the workplace environment, it can be prevented and even reversed. 

The Causes and Solutions:

Unfair treatment at work can wear a person down, squandering all their mental and emotional resources. This makes burnout 2.3 times more likely, in fact, and this can be the result of unjust wages, policies, and favouritism. A lack of trust is also to blame. 

The essential element at play here is a lack of equity and control. Make sure employees have agency to operate within the workplace regulations in a manner that best enables them to do their jobs. Be certain their voices are heard and that you’re fairly distributing favour, pay, and position commensurate with experience, education, and ability. Do not let your workers feel they are taken for granted or that their actions have no bearing on the outcome of a situation. Empower them to make decisions and affect company culture. 

A workload that is too heavy when endured over weeks, months, or years can deplete your workers of their enthusiasm and drive, leaving hopelessness and despondency in its wake. To counteract this, make sure there is adequate time for rest and taking breaks. 

Time off is also invaluable in preventing overload as is an emphasis on mental health at work. This can look like installing break rooms, making opportunities for recreation available, or any number of things that promote wellness. In addition, it is paramount that work is divided among the labourers in a manner that is fair. 

A lack of clarity as to what is expected can also cause duress, as staff will not understand what is expected of them. This makes it difficult for them to plot their actions, as they may always be expecting repercussions for doing the wrong thing. To avoid this, make sure that roles and expectations are clearly stated. Goals must be clear and well-articulated, including the action steps to achieve those markers. 

Millennials are taking less time off than their forebears, and many live with anxiety and depression. This is a factor in the catastrophic epidemic of burnout we are currently witnessing, and self-care is suggested to circumvent this predisposition. Mindfulness at work is crucial, and to promote this, you may need to be more flexible with scheduling, allowing for work-at-home options as well. It could also be necessary to adjust a worker’s duties temporarily or even on a permanent basis. 

Communication is vital to any organisation, and it can be devastating for a staffer when their concerns are not properly heard. For this reason, it is crucial that your teamwork diligently to eliminate any systemic issues that clog up the lines of conversation. Make certain that people know you are available, and establish methods whereby they can accomplish this, as this can curtail instances of burnout by about 70%.

Lastly, time crunches and unreasonable deadlines can significantly contribute to workplace stress. Some professionals cannot help these demands, for example, firefighters and first responders, however, oftentimes constraints are artificial barriers to long-term success. 

Invest time to research how long it realistically takes to achieve certain tasks, and then allow enough room for that to occur. It may require that you recruit more help or delegate tasks differently. This will help to alleviate anxiety and procrastination, and ultimately, work will be produced more efficiently. 

At Aicilia, we put our knowledge of the Animal Health-Nutrition and Animal Production industries to work for you, creating a tailor-made recruitment approach to each client with whom we work. We tap into our global network to source you with the best staff members, providing a broad range of services related to employee management and recruitment at all tier levels. We bring 130 years of experience to the table, and we invite you to contact us for more information today. 

To learn more about The Aicila Group and what we can do for your business, please click here www.aicila.com

Alicia Keenan is the Managing Director at The Aicila Group – a globally active and highly specialised animal health/nutrition and animal production recruitment and consulting company with HQ in Australia.

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If you’d like to learn more about our open job postings, click here and apply now!

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