A year-long population study has found that full-time workers employed by organisations that fail to prioritise their employees’ mental health have a three-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with depression. While working long hours is a risk factor for dying from cardiovascular disease or having a stroke, poor management practices pose a greater risk for depression, the researchers found.
Psychosocial safety climate (PSC) is the term used to describe management practices and communication and participation systems that protect workers’ mental health and safety. Poor workplace mental health can be traced back to poor management practices, priorities and values, which then flows through to high job demands and low resources.
Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression.
Due to the global burden of depression, which affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide and shows no sign of abating despite available treatments, more attention is now being paid to poorly functioning work environments which could contribute to the problem.
High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health.
The Lack of consultation with employees and unions over workplace health and safety issues, and little support for stress prevention, is linked to low PSC in companies.
The global costs of workplace bullying and worker burnout are significant, manifested in absenteeism, poor work engagement, stress leave, low productivity and presenteeism (where an employee is unwell but comes into work anyway).
High levels of worker burnout are extremely costly to organisations and it’s clear that top-level organisational change is needed to address the issue.