The top priorities in any given organisation are productivity, profitability and marketing – not necessarily in that order – but that’s what they are.
Even though many companies talk about being a people’s organisation, not many even think about the mental well-being of their employees and this issue does not figure on the list of their priorities.
Healthy balance sheet take precedence over healthy minds, but this issue is critical for companies if they want to maintain productivity and profitability in the long term.
Tagged as a silent tsunami in the workplace, there can be various kinds of mental problems that people suffer though they may not acknowledge it fully and the management may be not aware of it at all.
Researchers spoke with recruitment and HR experts in the country to dig deeper into what are the most common mental problems at the UAE workplace, and the possible solutions to deal with this menace.
According to Debbie Nicol, a Dubai-based HR and talent management expert, there are different conditions at the workplace that lead to different kinds of mental problems.
#1 Anxiety and frustration
As per the HR guru, the first condition is a mirror of the workplace environment. This is what leads to anxiety and frustration, the most common mental condition for an employee.
“Lack of access to knowledge, little or no trust and/or suspicion, limited assistance as to how to perform the job, lack of clarity in priorities, reactive change with little or no warning nor reason, ‘under the surface’ riding or bullying,” are the reasons that lead to this problem, enumerates Nicol.
But there is a solution to the problem, she advises. “People join organisations but leave managers. Manager and leaders have a huge opportunity to see their operations through a different set of glasses,” she says.
“Currently, the view from the top sees the enablers as doers, rather than doers who will engage with more commitment if they are seen as people with feelings, people who value communication and understanding and people who are smart and wish to do their personal best,” she explains.
“After all, don’t the people at the top want their own leaders to view them in that way? It’s time to allow people to believe in the leadership. Forcing them will only lead to frustration, anxiety and ultimately short-term productivity,” she warns.
#2 No sense of belonging
The second condition is what Nicol again calls a mirror of the environmental conditions of the workplace but this time it leads to a lack of sense of belonging.
“People follow those they believe in, align with and see benefit in doing so. When there’s a lack of congruence, there will be no sense of belonging,” she maintains.
That’s exactly why savvy businesses try to align organisational and personal priorities and objectives, leading to a happy congruence and a happier workplace.
#3 No belief in the leader and/or the organisation
The third condition is also a mirror of the environmental conditions of the workplace, leading to a lack of belief in the leader and/or the organisation.
The cause of this is “limited or no credibility, visibility, consistency of the executive sponsorship, i.e. the leadership.” This can be solved with “a change in perspective, to move from an entitlement mentality (they will follow me because I have the title) to a responsibility mentality (serving all including my people).”
While there will always be employees who will be anti-authority, a large share of responsibility in this case rests with the organisational and/or department heads, who have the duty to make their peers believe in them and the organisation’s ethos to minimise disillusionment and, eventually, lack of productivity.
#4 Employee burnout
Working real hard without any play can drain out even the most efficient employee. According to Ash Athawale, Recruitment Manager at Reed Specialist Recruitment, employee burnout is a very common problem at the workplace.
“People tend to not figure out a better work/life balance. Yes, companies expect employees to work a little extra, but not at the cost of their mental health or physical well-being,” he argues.
“There is a reason why all employees get annual vacation days – take them,” he suggests.
In this particular case, the proverbial ball is in the employee’s court, and not in the organisation’s. In today’s always-connected life, employees will themselves have to find the time to pursue their passion and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
“Learn to switch off your smartphone when you are with family. Unless it is an emergency, don’t respond to emails as they come in. Set aside a bit of time every day that you are away (and if your role really requires it) to respond to work emails,” Athawale advises.
“Your colleagues and client should give you the space to recharge while away from work. One practice that works is to state your ‘anticipated absences’ in your email signature a few weeks prior to going away on annual vacation,” he recommends.