What could be the real reason behind low productivity and morale in your business

Updated on 23 September 2016

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What could be the real reason behind low productivity and morale in your business

While mental health problems affect many employees both in and outside of the workplace, the unfortunate reality is that due to the many stigmas associated with mental health issues, they are not acknowledged and dealt with in the workplace.

Instead, staff are left to bear the burden alone, which not only has an impact on their productivity, but the culture and connectedness of the team within which they operate.

Considering that mental disorders account for 15% of the global burden of disease, coupled with the fact that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, mental wellness is certainly an issue that needs to be prioritised within the workplace.

Absenteeism costs the economy around R12-16 billion per annum. This simply highlights the importance of implementing measures to reduce the stigmas and discrimination associated with mental disorders.

In addition to the economic implications for organisations as outlined above, ill mental health could potentially have a negative impact on team performance as well as the overall company culture.

Here’s how to pinpoint possible symptoms of ill mental health in your workplace:

  • An increase in absenteeism: It is very rare for staff to call in sick and openly cite depression or anxiety as a reason for not coming into work.
  • Conflict and grievances among employees: Ongoing conflict, grievances and complaints could signal possible problems regarding workplace wellbeing.
  • Low company morale: Employees with mental health disorders may appear unmotivated and withdrawn. Even though they may always be present at work, it is likely that they are not performing optimally.
  • Decreasing productivity: Low productivity can be deemed as a sign of an underlying issue, the cause of which could very well be attributed to mental wellbeing.
  • High staff turnover: This could be as a result of a negative organisational culture, uncompetitive pay and benefits, unrealistic job requirements, or poor mental wellbeing.

When it comes to addressing mental health issues in the workplace, a good starting point is eradicating any potential stigmas and opening the lines of communication.

As an employer, you need to remain cognisant of the fact that most employees shy away from reporting mental health mental illness for fear of being judged as weak or incompetent.

Here are some of the basics organisations should keep top of mind when dealing with mental wellbeing in the workplace:

  • Increase awareness around the issue in a way that does not perpetuate the stigma, with the aim to educate the organisation as a whole about the importance of diagnosing and treating mental health problems.
  • Open the lines of communication between the leadership team and the workforce to establish whether relationships and workloads could potentially be causing mental duress.
  • Distribute an internal survey to assess the staff’s understanding of mental health and the current state of mental health in the organisation.
  • Introduce Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) in the organisation to offer well-being related benefits such as counselling, debt management, legal advice, and support on emotional and work-life issues. And, after acknowledging this, move towards proactively implementing measures to identify and manage mental wellbeing in the workplace

Ultimately, organisations need to recognise that just like physical health, everyone goes through fluctuating levels of mental wellbeing. And that healthy, happy employees are the only sure way to ensure optimal company performance

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