Browsing School of Social Work by Author "Kennedy, Jessica"
Mind the Workplace: Workplace Mental Health 2017Hellebuyck, Michele; Nguyen, Theresa; Halphern, Madeline; Fritze, Danielle; Kennedy, Jessica (Mental Health America, 2017)Mental Health America (MHA) recognizes the psychological impact that workplaces can have on their employees. Millions of employees spend a large part of their day, and lifetime, at work, increasing the effect that workplace environments can have on psychological well-being. MHA’s research is part of an ongoing commitment to uncovering workplace disparities and addressing the psychological needs of the workforce. The Workplace Health SUrvey measured the attitudes and perceptions of over 17,000 employees across 19 industries in the US. Survey questions were designed to collect data on workplace culture, workplace stress, employee engagement, and employee benefits. Survey findings explored the relationship between workplace health and employee engagement, a concept that has, in recent years, become more measurable, and indicative of workplace stress levels and overall mental health. Workplace Health Survey findings show that only twenty-one (21 percent) of respondents felt that they were paid what they deserved, while 44 percent of respondents felt that skilled employees were not given recognition. Additionally, only 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents felt that they could rely on supervisor and colleague support, respectively. This perceived lack of support and recognition in the workplace contribute to higher levels of workplace stress and isolation, and are strongly correlated with job dissatisfaction. Survey respondents also reported high rates of absenteeism (33 percent) and work-family conflict (81 percent), as well as increased mental health and behavioral problems (63 percent). Unsupportive and unstable workplaces fostered psychological distress and contributed to a decline in employee engagement. Among employees with lower levels of engagement, a majority (65 percent) reported that they spent between 31-50 hours a week distracted in their workplace, and 70 percent stated that they were thinking about and/or actively looking for a new job. Low levels of employee engagement were moderately correlated with overall workplace health. Across industries, those scoring lowest in workplace place health experienced higher levels of job dissatisfaction and insecurity. The healthiest workplace industries were: - Healthcare - Financial Services, and - Non-Profit. The unhealthiest workplace industries were: - Manufacturing, - Retail, and - Food and Beverage. Workplace perks, such as flexible time arrangements, opportunities for professional development, and open door and relaxed policies had the greatest influence on job satisfaction and employee engagement. Industries that scored highest on workplace health had a higher percentage of respondents stating they received flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and an open door and relaxed work environment. Survey findings also confirmed that workplace perks promoted more positive attitudes and perceptions amongst employees, while increasing engagement and productivity. Fortunately, for organizations that seek to improve workplace health, the survey’s results indicate that a handful of low cost options have a significant impact. Staff recognition and praise matters more than compensation, indicating that improving managements’ skills and ability to provide verbal and written support is more meaningful than increasing salaries. Similarly, employees really want to feel valued in their work environment. One opportunity is to explore extra benefits. Companies struggling with high turnover should consider adding flexible work arrangements, professional development, and ways to encourage a relaxed work environment to improve productivity and satisfaction.