Your job or your life?

Mental health sees 300,000 people leave their jobs each year – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-41740666

The news commenting on the “Thriving At Work” report (co-authored by Mr Paul Farmer), say the evident impact of mental illnesses on jobs and on economic activity are not to be dismissed anymore.  The report reflects on the growing importance of the problem and suggests some actions to those that can make them possible.

We all need to be aware of what is happening in small and bigger firms, in the public and private sector, in educational, health and business institutions… the problem of increasing stress and anxiety is getting more acute and generalised… it is becoming a social problem that affects all everywhere.

Some of the details quoted by the BBC article point out that, “poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn each year.” Also quotes, “In many instances, employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.”

Again, the question is, What can managers and leaders in all firms and institutions do about it?

It is clear that job conditions may create stress and anxiety.  It is also clear that in some cases, the lack of awareness, acknowledgement and undue treatment by these organisations can push employees to leave. In previous articles I have referred to some cases (i.e., Virgin Money and Facebook), in which the opposite,  that is, support, understanding and flexibility provided by employers have become a life saver to employees. In these cases the companies have assisted very important members of their community to overcome their problems, regain control and continue their lives and jobs in better conditions.

Why is this important?
The first reason is probably “statutory “. According to Investopedia, “Corporate social responsibility, often abbreviated “CSR,” is a corporation’s  initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social wellbeing. The term generally applies to efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups. CSR may also be referred to as “corporate citizenship” and can involve incurring short-term costs that do not provide an immediate financial benefit to the company, but instead promote positive social and environmental change.”

Thus, all organisations have the obligation to take responsibility for their employees, and provide the best environment possible for their wellbeing.

Secondly, and probably more importantly,  because for any organisation to create value in the long term,  it is indispensable to care and enhance their “human capital”. Productivity and the quality of human capital are intrinsically linked. Both are core for creating and maintaining long-term value for all organisations.

Those of us who believe that creating real value is a lot more than short-term profits, we want to see changes in the attitude of employers towards their stakeholders.  Employees are one of the crucial forces behind the continued success of enterprises and institutions.

Supporting people at work before stress and anxiety become depression or transform into any other serious mental and physical condition, could be one of the keys to tackle the problem. After all, prevention is more humanly and economically efficient than dealing with collapses of any kind.

Organisations that get into action before losing their employees will receive the best of them. Those organisations which push aside the importance of their employees’ wellbeing may not remain successfully for long.

 

 

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