Science of Self ™ Knowledge Centre

Workplace Factors that Hurt Mental Health

Dec 14, 2021

According to research from Black Dog Institute and the Australian Government, there are nine workplace factors that are hurting mental health. Knowing what the factors are may help you to identify them and manage the risks proactively to have a healthy workplace. 

These workplace factors are related to the way that work is designed and/or managed. They can increase the risk that you or your employees will develop mental ill-health. Employees may be affected by more than one factor at any time. 

Given this list is made-up of the top factors, we were somewhat surprised to see that poor change management is a leading contributor to mental ill-health at work

With the high volume of rapid change underway at organisations, we are committed to creating psychologically healthy and safe workplaces. 

With that in mind, we have shared seven reminders that will support mental health during change at the end of this article.

Top Factors Leading to Mental Ill-Health at Work

The following list and definitions were taken from the NSW Government Mental Health at Work as well as Black Dog Institute’s course on Leading a Mentally Healthy Workplace.

Excessive Demands, Low Control

What it is: When employees have a high-demand job, but they feel as though they have a limited ability to make decisions about how and when they do their work.

Lack of Support

What it is: When employees feel unsupported by management or their team.

Low Recognition

What it is: When employers are not recognised nor rewarded for their efforts, they are almost twice as likely to experience mental ill-health.

Poor Change Management

What it is: Poorly designed, managed or communicated organisational change (such as digital transformation, a restructure or a change in workload) contributes to mental ill-health.

Job Uncertainty

What it is: When employees feel insecure in their job or uncertain about their future at work, it can increase the risk of mental ill-health by up to 30%. 

Unfair Work Practices

What it is: When employees believe others are given special treatment.

Unclear Job Descriptions

What it is: When employees are unsure of what is expected of them in their day-to-day role and/or who they report to.

Workplace Conflict and Violence

What it is: When employees experience rudeness and social rejection at work, this is workplace conflict. If the behaviour is ongoing, it can become bullying (see below).

Bullying

What it is: Bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an individual or group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety.

How to Support Mental Health during Change

Based on many years of experience in designing, managing and leading organisational change, here are seven reminders that will support mental health during a change program. 

  1. Invest in change management from the initial problem identification stage through to after implementation. 
  2. Build (or select) a solution that follows human-centred design principles and is adaptable and sustainable.
  3. Be aware that small changes need as much care for people as big changes.
  4. Understand that change fatigue isn’t a feeling. It’s apathy, frustration, burnout and disconnection.
  5. Add a mental health target to your program success metrics.
  6. Teach and instill change resilience. Foster a culture of trust and collaboration.
  7. Be the voice of the people at every meeting, always.

You and your team may be impacted by any one of these workplace factors no matter what your role. Workplaces have a legal obligation to proactively assess and manage these factors to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.  

It’s the right thing to do to look after the mental health of your employees. There are also benefits to the business’ bottom line as well as employee satisfaction by being a mentally healthy workplace.

You can ask yourself, your team and/or your leaders these two questions:

  1. Do you know how to identify and prevent ineffective change management?
  2. Do you know how to measure and improve psychological safety?

Should you wish to learn more about our 2022 webinars on this topic or our organisational diagnostic tools that may be able to assist you, please request more information at hello@dtssydney.com

References

NSW Government, Factors that Impact Mental Health.

Black Dog Institute, Courses.

Topics: Psychology- Future of Work- Change & Transformation

Temre Green, PhD

Temre Green, PhD

Head of Consulting Services, Australia & New Zealand. Temre has designed, planned and delivered business strategy and transformation programs that were driven by a range of factors, such as innovation, growth, compliance, regulations, restructures and economic downturns. As an Industrial-Organisational Psychologist, Temre has spent her career dedicated to organisational behaviour and the work environment. She is currently focused on the future of work and multiple areas of organisational development that support organisational growth and health.

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