I will dwell on this topic for the sake of workers and employers who are reading this column at their desks. As adults, a large proportion of our time is spent at work and this makes our experience at the workplace predictive of our overall well-being.
Workplace stress is a major risk factor for anxiety and depression. Most jobs have some degrees of stress that is often beyond our control. We can’t always set our own workloads and deadlines or change the workplace culture
In a country like Nigeria where we don’t have enough statistics, the accurate measure of the negative impact of mental illness on the economy may not be available. However, employers of labour are familiar with the costs they bear when they hire a worker that is using addictive substances.
The loss that accrues to dying in an accident as a result of being driven by someone who is “high” on marijuana, codeine or other local stimulants is unquantifiable.
You can quantify the loss you bear, at least, when a driver that is usually using psychoactive substances destroys your Range Rover Sport Utility Vehicle or your Bentley. It is high time we tackled inadequate health safety policies in the workplace.
A high and unrelenting workload, bullying and psychological harassment are common in our places of work, especially in Africa where there are many clogs in the wheel of organisational governance arising from our patriarchal and hegemonic cultural influences in the workplace.
These factors precipitate psychological and physical problems, which ultimately result in reduced productivity, increased staff turnover and, in some cases, outright vandalism, nuisance behaviour and economic sabotage.
These may spill over into the worker’s marriage, family life, social life, and the larger society. An average Nigerian entrepreneur does not care about high turnover of staff because of the availability of applicants due to the high rate of unemployment in the country.
The fact remains that this opens up organisations to fraud, high costs of continuous recruitment and training, as well as poorly coordinated management processes due to frequent changes in the manpower and increased economic sabotage.
The cost implication of an employer mismanaging his employee is grave. The gateman or computer software needs to be in optimum mental health if the company is to be protected. Take it from me, you do not want to know the monumental cost of neglecting your employees.
Dear employers, let your staff enjoy flexible working hours, reduce negative workplace dynamics and have zero tolerance for stigma and discrimination.
It is disturbing to note that a good number of our civil servants, who are mentally ill, often face discrimination in the workplace, especially when the government wants to downsize.
Let them remember that Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities provide a legally binding for people with disabilities, including those with mental illness. Their right to work, equal treatment and no discrimination should not be toyed with.
To boost the mental strength of your workers, you need to pay their salaries on time and do not deny them their promotion. Pension programmes are very crucial in the mental framework for employees. It should not only be for retirees, but also for those who are in active service so that they can be motivated to give their best to the organisation without fear of the future.
The workplace should be a haven of rest and social insurance where their basic life problems can be solved. Beyond the traditional personnel management, organisations, whether public or private, must have a human capital development department with a strong mental capital development mandate.
However, there are some strategies that everyone can adopt to manage and reduce their own stress levels, as well as find a positive work-life balance.
Part of taking care of your mental health is also about looking at your overall well-being.
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