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How does mental health influence an employee’s performance?

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The activity of working, a fundamental principle for human life, has suffered signification changes within the 21st century. Heavy physical work, the natural environment, bad weather conditions, have been replaced by mentally demanding, high intensity work, narrow working environments, constant stress, and mentally challenging conditions. These changes in lifestyle have led to a decrease in both physical activity, and physical work and, thereby, reduced energy requirements, causing an imbalance between energy needs and energy supplies.

An increased number of organizations have been implementing projects and programs designed to improve employees’ mental health, and install a healthy workplace environment. Weak mental health does not only hurt the individual, it also reduces any organization’s profits. Since every workplace is different, there is no standardized procedure to incorporate mental health programs. Factors like workload, top management’s agenda, organization size, and external environment, pay a heavy toll on employees’ mental health.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, working in partnership with The Government of Canada, has implemented a project entitled Healthy Minds at Work. Researchers from Simon Fraser University have identified several psychosocial risk factors that have crucial impact on organizational health, such as:

Psychological Support & Psychological Job Fit

Every organization should provide psychological support for its employees, especially regarding protection against stress at work. If neglected, stress may lead to conflicts, turnover, loss of productivity, absenteeism, risk of accidents, incidents, injuries, etc. Therefore, employees that feel they are provided with the necessary support to overcome stressful periods, have greater job satisfaction, are committed and involved, have a positive attitude and an increased job performance.

Job fit is related to the interdependence between employees’ emotional, social and psychological (empathy, self-control, self-motivation) competencies, and between technical skills and knowledge for a particular job position. Thus, job satisfaction, self-esteem, increased performance can easily turn into, in the case of job misfit, job strain, lack of engagement, conflict, and poor productivity.

Organizational Culture & Clear Leadership and Expectations

Organizational culture refers to a mix of beliefs, values, meanings, and expectations provided by a particular group of people, within an organization. They define an ideal behavior which is considered appropriate for the entire staff of a company. They are based on trust, loyalty, commitment and they are essential to providing a healthy work environment.

Organizational culture strongly influences rules and expectations. It is indispensable for employees to know what is expected from them, and how their work contributes to the organization. Effective leadership increases trust, reliability and reduces employee frustration and conflict occurrence.

Engagement, Involvement & Influence

According to researchers from Simon Fraser University: “Employee Engagement can be physical (energy exerted), emotional (positive job outlook and passionate about their work) or cognitive (devote more attention to their work and be absorbed in their job).” Engagement is essential to individual satisfaction and it increases company profitability, customer satisfaction, and task performance.

As far as involvement is concerned, an organization should include its employees in discussions regarding decision making and related processes. Engagement is enhanced when employees feel that they’re input is taken into consideration.

Growth & Development, Recognition & Reward

An organization should offer employees support and encouragement in the development of their interpersonal, emotional, and professional skills. Competency development should not focus only on current job position, but also on preparing employees for future positions, too. Employee development increases goal commitment, performance and job satisfaction.

In terms of recognition and rewards, certain aspects are widespread. For example, employee appreciation is one essential aspect that always has to be taken into consideration. Employee performance evaluation should be done in a fair and timely manner, and it should also include a financial compensation, as well as acknowledgement of the years served, or milestones achieved. Thus, employees’ motivation is increased, their self-esteem is higher and the desire to excel is achieved.

Civility, Respect & Protection of Physical Safety

There are several aspects that define civility and respect: esteem, respect, consideration and dignity. These attitudes are manifested between top management, employees and customers, and lead to a greater job satisfaction, a more positive attitude, a pleasant working environment, enhanced perception of fairness, better teamwork. Positive attitude characterizes this type of workplace and allows people, from staff to customers, to enjoy the environment.

Generally, the work place has a significant impact on the individual’s health and overall well-being. Promoting a healthy environment at work, and especially mental health among individuals, does only lead to a significant performance improvement, but also to the facilitation and improvement of all types of quotidian tasks, from the individual level, up to the social level of intercommunity.

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