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Workplace Mental Health |

Workplace Mental Health

Workplace Mental Health


This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

Neville Pritchard, Chair – HR in Flow and People in Flow.


The subject has been widely covered in the media in recent weeks. It is of growing significance with incidents growing in number. What lies behind it and what factors are most impacting on people affected? This is a personal reflection on the subject and related concerns. It is not intended as an all-inclusive review or academic paper. It is a short blog hoping to simply raise the subject in the context of a need to act.

The most quoted causal issue is stress. Stress caused from what though?

Some of the contributing factors include:

  • Working ‘out of flow’

We each have dominant energies and when working within them we can suffer pressure and thrive on it. We can work in any energy but when fulfilling tasks well outside of our natural energy we can get stressed if too much time or complexity and pressure combine.

  • Management impact

The percentage of exit interviews stating line manager as the cause of exit has remained consistently high in the past decade. This, despite all working in HR and management being conscious of the issue. It is time to act on this and ‘go beyond’ management of process and the ‘manage’ mentality. Companies are lean, they have reengineered, enabled ‘total quality’ and now is the time to drive performance with and through people. It is time to embrace the enabling of others to offer their best and contribute. Time to allow the strengths you recruited to be applied without a need to sanitise and be diluted by the ‘not here’ gang. Early attrition is expensive – you wouldn’t have got that level of recruiting decisions wrong, so it is time to ensure people are welcomed and their contributions valued.

Ken Blanchard introduced us to situational leadership, Tanenbaum and Schmidt to their management continuum exploring the need for managers to adapt and not the other way around. Much has been invested in the awareness of these models, time then to ensure managers are measured on how well they ‘adapt’ and enable the performance of others.

  • Social media

According to Royal Society for Public Health (2017) there has been a 70% rise in cases of anxiety and depression in 18-24-year olds since the rise of social media

A survey with the NHS in 2012 stated that 51% of people responded that their behaviour has changed negatively since using social media

  • What are your policies relating to social media in the workplace?
  • What controls are in place on ‘internal’ chat rooms?
  • Do you need them?
  • How could it be positively utilised?
  • Pace of work

The workplace demands for speed and ‘responsiveness’ are ever increasing as speed is deemed a competitive advantage and a ‘desired’ behaviour. Speed in the wrong direction though just means you get to the wrong place quickly! Those that add value with excellent planning and the ability to adapt pace to what is really needed to achieve the best outcomes should be seen as valuable.

  • Unacceptable behaviours of others within the working teams

People are sensitive to what others say, do and value. Culture in the workplace is important and inclusivity is key to the inner feelings of all. Any deliberate exposure of others’ perceived weaknesses need be addressed – quickly!

  • Disconnects between work and non-work activity and ‘time’

When there is a ‘pull’ from either direction on the other then people can be stressed by minor frustrations. As Csikszentmihalyi noted in his books on Flow frustration is woven into the fabric of life. Awareness of the need to support in moments of frustration and provide defence mechanisms is a key to enabling people.

       The lack of non-work time and time for regeneration can also impact. In North America

       and in the UK especially the ‘long work day’ culture ‘badge’ is unhelpful. Having just read

       ‘A year of living Danishly,’ by Helen Russell, the work based lessons contained within it

       should not be dismissed. Our own company has adopted a ‘no work after 6.00pm unless

       at an event’ principle. Global partners have responded with an awareness of time zones

       and respect for all has grown. It has focused the working day and generated a new

       energy in the workplace.  Worth exploring for all.

  • Lack of well-being and diet.

The links and thus greater support to individuals in the aspect of life is growing positively. As with working performance and development though, it is ultimately the responsibility of every individual for themselves, and others dependent upon them to take that responsibility.

Many of these can be inter-connected and the cumulative effect of a number being ‘in play’ at any given time can cause stress to impact behaviour, health, and life. One ‘tool’ to explore further is the impact of neuroscience. More on this soon.

In our upcoming book we explore the need to ‘go beyond’ traditional People Support and factor in the needs for your unique working environment to include all, the need for insight, the need for trust and flow, the impact of well-being, the enabling of performance and more.

To discuss further please contact info@hrinflow.com or call +44 (0) 1280 823 702.

October 2017.

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