Social Wellbeing In The Workplace | EAPA-SA

There are many factors that contribute to the social and emotional wellbeing of your employees, both inside the workplace and at home. Social and emotional wellbeing is about an individual’s ability to work productively, reach their full potential, contribute to their community and cope with the normal stresses of life. Employers have an important role in managing workplace factors that may have a negative impact on an employee’s social and emotional wellbeing. It is important for employers to provide an environment and culture that is supportive of their employee’s overall wellbeing.

Effectively promoting and managing positive social and emotional wellbeing in the workplace serves beyond just having a positive impact on employees, it also benefits organisations through reducing absenteeism, presenteeism and in increasing productivity.

Here are 3 issues employees may be facing:

1. Stress

As a normal part of life stress can be a positive thing that helps people perform at their best or meet a challenge. However, too much stress can have a negative impact on an employee’s social and emotional wellbeing.  Stress has been identified as impacting on a range of physical and mental health problems such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal issues and mental health issues including depression and anxiety. The negative consequences of stress impacts an organisation when it leads to increased absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover.

Workplace stress is the harmful physical and emotional response that occurs when the requirements of a job do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the staff member. Research shows that work related factors such as poor organisational practices, pressure from work overload, lack of job control, and unclear job description can lead to stress and have a negative impact on the wellbeing of your employees.

Non–work related factors such as family and relationship issues as well as financial pressures are all common causes of stress. These issues can also impact on an employee’s performance at work and EAP and wellness programmes within an organisation can play a positive role in supporting employees to manage stressful situations outside the workplace.

2. Depression

Depression is a common psychiatric disorder and can be costly, having a significant impact on the individual and employers. Depression is very different to experiencing a ‘down’ day or two, or the lack of motivation that everyone feels at some point.  Depression is a mental illness that has a numerous symptoms that may appear in various ways in different people. Common symptoms of depression include: persistent sadness, tiredness, and lack of energy and motivation.  In the workplace this may lead to decreased engagement and concentration, and reduced productivity.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) in partnership with HEXOR, with the support of Lundbeck, undertook research into depression in the workplace, because South African information is not available on this topic. It provides insight into the prevalence of depression within the workplace in South Africa, as well as the impact of depression on the employees and employers in terms of sick leave and levels of productivity, especially when the symptoms include cognitive impairment…

Findings just released from a research study into the impact of depression on the South African workforce show that at least one in four employees have been diagnosed with depression, that the country’s economic engine age group of 25–44 year-olds is most affected and that during their last depressive episode, employees took 18 days off work due to the condition…

It would be in the interest of employers to ensure that affected employees are treated effectively, since their impairment affects the profitability of the organisation. However, there appears to be a surprising lack of awareness of depression and its consequences in the workplace…

3. Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal reaction felt by everyone at some point – usually in response to danger or in anticipation of a pleasant or unpleasant event.  An anxiety disorder is when anxiety is severe or long-lasting and begins to interfere with an individual’s life or relationships. Prolonged anxiety can lead to depression.

The common symptoms of anxiety that can impact on an employee’s performance at work include: excessive worrying, emotional distress, irrational thinking avoidance behaviours, and physical responses such as headaches or stomach pains.

Here are 4 ways employers can reduce workplace stress:

1. Create a pleasant work environment

There are many ways you can improve on your work environment, particularly when it could boost productivity and overall job satisfaction. Even small changes such as new office cutlery and kitchenware will boost morale and make the work environment more conducive to work.

2. Encourage team bonding

Employees spend a lot of time with their co-workers and therefore it is important that they get along. The more people enjoy their time at work, the better the atmosphere will be – which leads to productivity, creativity and collaboration.

3. Introduce workplace wellness programmes

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle is extremely important when it comes to combating workplace related stress. Employee wellness schemes which promote health and fitness: paying for a portion of employees’ gym memberships, facilitating a company running club, or holding healthy eating challenges, is a good way to help employees to de-stress and feel better about themselves.

4. Listen

Listening illustrates the organisations caring attitude. Sometimes, employees just need a chance to share what they are thinking and express their concerns or complaints.  However, many employees are afraid to talk to their bosses, because they do not want to create the impression that they cannot handle their jobs.  Employee assistance professionals are specially trained and experienced at listening, asking the right questions, gathering the correct information, and helping employees decide on the best course of action to resolve an issue or difficulty that is contributing to work or home-related stress.

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