mental wellness, employees

Employees are seeking more flexible working hours, dedicated mental wellness days, and support programmes among other measures. Are you already practising, or planning on these?

A recent survey of 200 employees in Singapore has found that most believe their employers could do more to safeguard their mental wellness.

According to the survey, part of NTUC LearningHub's new Special Report on Mental Wellbeing at the Workplacemore than half of the employees (54%) were "not really satisfied" or "not satisfied at all" with their company's current mental wellness initiatives.

Further, more than three in five employees revealed that their mental wellness at work has been either "fair", "poor" or "very poor" in the last 12 months, and nearly half of employees reported experiencing stress at work "frequently" or "all the time".

When probed about the various sources of stress, employees cited "poor work-life balance" (52%), "feeling undervalued" (51%) and "heavy workload" (46%) as top stressors that contribute to their poor mental well-being at work.

More importantly, employees perceived a lack of understanding of mental wellness at their workplace. When asked about their company’s stance towards mental wellness, many employees believed that issues related to mental wellness are ‘not discussed regularly’ (58%), ‘not very well understood by managers and HR’ (46%) and ‘not taken seriously’ (44%) at their workplace.

Additionally, such issues were also not covered in company insurance policies (38%), and were often seen as a "convenient excuse to skip work and shirk responsibilities (27%).

Additionally, per the report, employees surveyed believed that they, together with HR and line managers, are equally responsible for ensuring mental wellness at the workplace. "Yet, the lack of discussion signals that there is a potential barrier at both ends – where employees are uncomfortable with sharing issues related to their mental wellbeing and business leaders are not effectively reaching out to employees for such discussions."

On that note, only 18% of employees report that their company has a formal mental wellness strategy in place; while four in 10 (40%) reveal that they are ‘not sure’ whether such strategies exist in their workplace.

In line with this, the report revealed three key strategies employees currently have at the workplace, as well as five they would like to see in their companies, which they believe would improve their mental wellness:

Top 3 strategies currently implemented

  1. Flexible working hours - 36%
  2. Support programmes between colleagues - 26%
  3. Access to wellness classes (e.g. yoga, exercise, meditation) - 26%

Top 5 strategies employees would like to see

  1. Flexible working hours - 61%
  2. Mental wellness days - 55%
  3. Support programmes between colleagues - 49%
  4. Redesignate roles if someone can't cope - 48%
  5. Access to wellness classes (e.g. yoga, exercise, meditation) - 44%

ALSO READ: UOB's Head of Group HR on keeping the workforce happy, healthy, and well-supported

Employees are increasingly dealing with workloads through presenteeism and leaveism

Apart from the above, the report showcased findings on presenteeism and leaveism. Citing he former is defined as a phenomenon where employees report to work despite feeling unwell and results in lowered productivity and job performance, while the latter occurs when an employee misuses their leave. This includes utilising their annual leave and flexi hours to take time off work when they are ill, taking work home with them that cannot be completed within normal working hours, and working whilst on leave or on holiday, to catch up with outstanding tasks.

But why are employees engaging in such practices? 

According to the report, the following were revealed:

Top 3 reasons for engaging in presenteeism

  1. There is no one else to share the workload with - 53%
  2. Company culture where my colleagues and/or managers do the same - 49%
  3. Unrealistic deadlines - 48%

Top 3 reasons for engaging in leaveism

  1. There is an expectation from my manager to cope with the workload - 55%
  2. There is no one else to share the workload with - 50%
  3. Because of technology, there is an expectation to be answerable beyond work hours - 46%

With these in mind, about three in five (60%) employees surveyed believe that the key solution to reduce instances of leaveism and presenteeism is to ‘build trust and open communication’.

Other key ways include:

  • Acknowledgement of the issue - 58%
  • Have a system in place to redistribute workload - 54%
  • Educate employees/managers on the dangers of ‘leaveism’ and ‘presenteeism’ - 52%
  • Managers should lead by example by not engaging in them - 47%

ALSO READ: The employer's guide to building a mental health-friendly workplace

Photo / Provided by NTUC LearningHub

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