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Mental Health and Performance Management

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Some years ago, I was faced with a mental health issue concerning one of our colleagues, and I must admit that it was a difficult time for me.  Since I was offering human resources business support for the function that the individual belonged, I had to make decisions and advise the leaders and colleagues on an issue for which I was ill-prepared. I had not been trained in my leadership courses or on the job how to deal with the matter.  Seeking help for the individual and ensuring they are back to good health and can deliver on their objectives taught me many tough lessons, which I wish I had some training.

Gallup, in its State of the Global Workplace: 2022 ReportThe Voice Of The World’s Employees, indicates that an increasing number of employees are experiencing daily negative emotions of stress, worry, anger and sadness.  While the study, whose sample is drawn from 160 countries globally, shows variation across regions, the general trend is a steady rise in the numbers.

The effects of these negative emotions can be felt in many organisations as the study shows that an average of 21% of global employees are engaged in the workplace.  Engagement indicates employee involvement and enthusiasm in their workplaces which in turn affects the overall productivity of an organisation.  It can be implied from the report that close to 80% of staff are disengaged employees who are bound to be demotivated, performing below expectations and impacting the overall business execution.  Conversely, Gallup studies suggest that organisations with a highly engaged workforce realise a 23% increase in profitability. 

Apart from the impact felt on the firm’s productivity, there is evidence of an increase in the number of employees presenting with mental health issues. While some employees show an increasing resilience in dealing with stressful situations with little impact on their overall productivity, there will be situations where others are unable to work due to the severity of the condition. Canada Life in its Workplace Strategies for Mental Health has resources that business leaders and Human Resources practitioners can use to learn how to deal with a declining performance linked to mental health. Besides being a treasure trove in assessments, tools, and workplaces that are easily deployable, Canada Life provides the resources free of charge.

One of my key takeaways, while I was lost in the well-researched strategies, is the need to increase manager competency in executing people processes.  This is especially important when dealing with employees who may be experiencing mental health issues. 

Indeed managers need to have a clear plan on how to resolve mental health conditions, make decisions on return to work and ensure the lack of stigmatisation of the concerned employees. Jon Clifton summarises it well in the introduction to the Gallup study, “Executives everywhere should want the world’s workers to thrive. And helping the world’s workers thrive starts with listening to them.”

Business strategies focusing on driving performance but not incorporating mental health are bound to suffer now and, if not, will be impacted soon.

#mentalhealth #worklifebalance

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