Australia: 45% of workers need mental health support
Leading provider of total wellbeing, mental health and digital mental health services, Morneau Shepell, has released its monthly Mental Health Index.
In the report the company detailed a consistent trend - negative mental health among Australians as the country enters into seven months following the outbreak of COVID-19.
The index for October was -11.3, indicating that the mental health of Australians is still at risk, with reduced workplace productivity and the need for mental health support fueling mental strains.
In the report the workplace productivity index (-13.8) is lower than all sub-scores in October. However, increased flexibility reportedly is maintaining motivation. Among the respondents 80% reported having flexible hours, with 37% identifying that flexible work helps with productivity.
Those that reported increased productivity had a mental health score of -10.3, while those that felt flexible hours reduced their productivity had a mental health score of -20.4.
"Though the country has seen an incredible near-elimination of COVID-19 in recent weeks, it's important to remember that employee expectations have changed since before the pandemic. Employees have come to expect flexibility from their employers. Understanding that routines have changed and adapting policies to meet this shift will be critical to continue supporting employees' physical and mental wellbeing. This has never been more important as we continue to see a direct link between employee mental health and business success,” commented Jamie MacLennan, managing director, Australia and APAC.
While 94% of respondents remain employed, 22% reported reduced hours and salary since April 2020.
Those that reported reduced hours had the lowest metal health scores at -18.9, while those not employed had a score of -17.0 and those on reduced salaries scored -16.3.
In addition, despite working fewer hours, 42% of respondents reported that they were putting in more effort at work.
"Australians are now being encouraged to return to the physical workplace and while this will bring a sense of normalcy, employers need to continue prioritizing workplace mental health strategies. Changes in routine and ongoing uncertainty about the pandemic remain ongoing stressors. Overall, Australia has handled the pandemic very well. Ensuring employee mental health is a key business priority will be critical to making sure the mental health crisis is mitigated as successfully as the physical pandemic,” added Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation.
Could HR technology solve Hong Kong’s culture of overworking
It has long been common practice for employees across the world to work beyond their contracted hours, with staff feeling pressured to put the company’s needs before their own. But this can have a consequential impact on employees’ health, as long working hours create a poor work-life balance and demotivational working environment. This is particularly evident in workforces across Hong Kong, where employees are working an additional 24 hours during the week due to the rising issue of presenteeism. As a result, productivity in the region has dropped, and the health and wellbeing of workers have suffered.
Technological advancements have created a culture where staff feel obliged to be ‘always on’, and respond to calls and e-mails when they’re out of the office. The demand for increased working hours means that businesses are losing capacity through burnt-out staff who are struggling to care for their health while meeting the requirements of their work. Companies in Hong Kong that were once able to retain their staff through an attractive salary package must now consider expanding the perks they offer their workforce that can help support them in achieving a better work-life balance.
Although the UK still has progress to make, workplaces in Hong Kong can learn from businesses in the UK which have made considerable efforts to identify causes of stress at work and taken the steps to reduce these. UK employers are prioritising the wellbeing of their employees and through adopting policies such as flexible working, working from home and offering access to health and wellness tools, they are able to provide enhanced support to their team.
By incorporating a health engagement platform into a human resources strategy, HR leaders in Hong Kong can create a positive working environment and improve morale within their team, as well as encourage and incentivise staff to take action and introduce healthy habits into their daily routines. This will also assist in tackling a disengaged workforce, reducing absenteeism and boosting motivation – all factors that have been a problem in Hong Kong’s working culture.
Employees both in the UK and Asia should also take the steps to look after their own health so they don’t fall victim to burnout. Employers should encourage their staff to take regular breaks throughout their day, whether it’s to practise mindfulness techniques or simply take a walk. Stepping away from their desk and spending time outside will help to reduce stress and clear their mind.
Transforming attitudes to work in Asia is not a straightforward task and it will take time for age-old cultural and business practices to change. However, there are steps businesses can take to aid employees in living a happier, healthier lifestyle. Through implementing a wellness plan, businesses can support their employees in pursuing a healthy work-life balance and encourage them to improve their lifestyle both in and out of work. Not only will this create happier employees, but it will also lead to running a more profitable business as staff take control of their health.