In the past few months I’ve seen numerous articles about the effect of the workplace on worker’s mental health. This is a serious problem that’s spiraling out of control with no end in sight. And it’s costing organizations big bucks. According to the article in HR Magazine, “The indirect cost of untreated mental illness to employers is estimated to be as high as $100 billion a year in the U.S. alone, according to the National Business Group on Health.” In Workforce it’s estimated at over $80 billion. Yet rarely in any of the articles do they talk about the root cause of all the stress and anxiety. The focus was more on how organizations need to address this erupting dilemma.
I think the cause is the ever present strain on workers to produce more with less.
The fear of losing your job, especially for those over 50 years of age. The stress to keep up with every emerging technology, the fear of falling behind even a millimeter.
I’ve seen skilled employees thrust into manager roles with virtually little or no training on how to manage a team.
I’ve seen managers have their staff size cut in half or worse with the expectation that they will continue to produce at the same volume with no drop in quality.
I’ve seen people given manager titles without staff. And these “managers” are told to lead projects with borrowed resources whose allegiance and interests are elsewhere.
I seen recognition programs slashed. Increase budgets frozen. Senior management treating employees with an HTHJ (Happy To Have Job) mentality.
Until management realizes that its workers really are their most valuable assets, the prime differentiator among organizations, and stop treating them like interchangeable parts, the cost and frequency of days lost to mental health issues will surely continue.
So look around. How many of the things I described above have taken place at your office?
Your thought, comments or horror stories are welcome.