by Lisa Baker
Originally published: January 11, 2017
Today’s workplace looks very different from even a decade ago, and with this has come increased scrutiny of employee wellbeing. With millennials now forming 50% of the global workforce, the oldest of generation Z starting work for the first time, and a growing culture of 24/7 connectedness and remote working, workplaces are witnessing changes in communication, work culture and management techniques. Employers and workers alike are having to adapt to these changes at a rapid pace.
This new way of working allows us to operate from home, work any time of day and communicate with colleagues in different time zones. Such flexibility does, however, place pressure on employees to be constantly ‘switched on’ and connected to work most hours of the day. Such blurring of work-life boundaries leads us to question the impact this new work culture has on employees’ mental health, and what bosses can do to support employees facing mental pressures from both their work and personal life.
CIPD’s 2016 report, ‘Employee Outlook: Focus on Mental Health in the Workplace’ brings some interesting employee views to light, among which is the belief that employers still have some way to go before developing a robust framework to support staff with mental health issues. Over the past five years, the proportion of workers who have experienced mental health problems has increased from 26% to 31%; of these, only 43% disclose mental health issues to managers. Along similar lines, NatCen Social Research’s 2016 British Social Attitudes 33 report states that 37% of workers experience stress “always” or “often”, compared with 28% in 1989. CIPD’s 2016 report also reveals that workers’ perceptions of employer support remains low – just 46% report that their organisations support employees experiencing mental health problems very well or fairly well, only a slight increase from 37% in 2011.