Mental health, a retention lever for companies

Talking about mental health has been increasingly important inside and outside companies

Data from the World Health Organization indicate that, worldwide, one in four people suffers from neuropsychological diseases at some point in life. Depression and related disorders, for example, rank fourth in the ranking of global ills. It is expected that in 2020 they will rise to second position.


On the part of the human resources area, it is necessary to understand the influence of the corporate environment in relation to the well-being and mental health of employees. The analysis carried out by the WHO points out that a work environment considered "bad" or "negative" can directly affect people's mental health, generating problems such as high levels of stress, anxiety disorder, depression and, in some cases, chemical dependency.


As much as there are external factors (personal issues or traumas, for example) that cause this type of illness, the level of job satisfaction plays a fundamental role in relation to mental balance. After all, employees spend 8 to 9 hours a day in the office or on the factory floor – roughly a quarter of their waking time.


In addition, recurrent cases of emotional illness affect costs and the organizational climate of companies. The increase in absenteeism and labor turnover, the low productivity rate and the increase in health-related expenses are examples of the impact of the disease on business.

Therefore, it is a strategic differential to reflect on good practices and policies on quality of life in a company.


From defining what happiness is to employee well-being

A point that the HR professional should think about would be the causes considered by the majority of the population as essential to achieve happiness. According to Lord Richard Layard, director of the Center for Economic Performance program at the London School of Economics, in short, mental health becomes a priority as it encompasses different causes.


Not only the quality of affective relationships, but the feeling of security and of belonging to a community, are also factors correlated with emotional balance, as well as physical well-being, the quality noted in employment and the way in which people relate as co-workers. “That is what most people talk about when they are among friends and family”, words said by the director in a note given to the consulting firm McKinsey.


Different investigations have indicated that, in general, people do not like their jobs. “That is something we need to pay attention to, as many jobs can be boring or very tiring,” said Lord Richard. As much as one part of the employees sees a purpose in what they do, the other part can go through unpleasant or exhausting moments in the company – be it due to conflicts with colleagues or managers, be it due to an excessive load of tasks, be it due to problems of physical health, that is, due to the lack of support from the institution in relation to particular problems. These would be some of the examples.


These types of daily and exhausting situations can cause stress, burnout syndrome, anxiety attacks and depression. It is in this context that wellness policies become a fundamental piece to increase motivation and commitment, as well as reduce the chances of such complications occurring.


The role of the company

A recent study by Mercer shows that today, corporations invest in the physical health of employees as part of the wellness program, but that will change in two years, when the topic of mental health will be centered as a strategy of people management. In this case, the HR professional must reflect on the corporate culture and whether the way it is structured meets the needs of the modern world.


Different factors in a business can put the mental balance of workers at risk. The way organizational and administrative processes work, for example, or the way internal communication is distributed, increase or decrease people's anxiety and insecurity. The existence or absence of recognition practices, support for collaborators and a physical space that generates receptivity and comfort, are other factors that interfere with the emotional climate.


In addition, HR must measure behavioral aspects: How is the company culture built by employees? Does she generate identification and inclusion? Are the relationships between colleagues or leaders and collaborators healthy and constructive?


According to the WHO, the beginning to build a healthy work environment is to think of programs that take into account the following situations for mental balance:

  • Reduction of risk factors that come from work, such as excessive workload, unemployment insecurity and toxic relationships;

  • Development of initiatives that motivate and value employees;

  • Talk about it and show support for people who are going through mental problems regardless of the cause.

Tell us how many free personal and mental well-being activities your company plans for the employees. This is how employees can notice an excess of these types of benefits in the organization.


For example, Google realized that most of its relaxation and recreation rooms were not used because its collaborators did not have time. It is necessary to think about all the conditions and tools that a collaborator needs, since this is also part of their mental health.


Thinking positive does not take away the workload; Likewise, meditating doesn't solve all problems related to stress management or understaffing either.


Our recommendation is to carry out an exhaustive analysis of the mental condition of the collaborators and ask how this could be improved. There will be people who want to practice meditation, yoga or tai chi, and others who prefer to better balance their schedule to be able to disconnect from work OR equip them with a device like Pendulum that can help them manage stress, sleep better and be more productive.


In each case, the company must manage and consider that mental health is already part of the organization's culture; furthermore, that this can be a great lever for retaining and attracting talent.

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