Are you as an HR manager, Human Resource Executive or Business Owner aware of the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce?

Recently Nelisiwe Msomi wrote an interesting piece for Health24 which shared research showing that South Africa has one of the lowest mental health scores in the world.

This data was gathered by Sapien Labs as part of the Annual Mental State of the World Report  and the conclusion is scary:

“South Africa scored the lowest average score on the mental health wellbeing scale. The rate of distressed or struggling on the scale increased by 8%, from 28.5% in 2020 to 36%”

If the results are extrapolated, one out of every 3 South Africans are struggling with mental health issues and they are then carrying this into the workplace.

As an HR Manager responsible for your team, the natural reaction might be to say “not my team – we have it all together” …. but do you really? Could it be that your team is simply running so hard and so fast, you are not aware of how they are struggling?

Let’s look at a practical example from one of the businesses in our network.

Recently a head of marketing had suffered a fall at work that resulted in multiple broken bones and being booked off for 3 weeks. The fall was associated with multiple factors including fatigue from having had to compile a board report and budgeting with limited resources.

After being discharged from the hospital, the staff member reported ELEVATED stress as they felt that being booked off meant that the workload would constantly be piling up and they would be “letting the team down” if they were not involved.

After an intervention from senior management, the staff member was allowed to “disconnect” and focus on recovery. A week after this decision was taken, a check-in was conducted with the staff member and they reported that they were so tired, they were sleeping for between 12 and 14 hours a day – they had been working in such an elevated state of panic and mental stress that their brains had forgotten how to un-plug.

As a manager, can you relate to this scenario? Do you have team members who are living in such an elevated state of stress that they simply don’t remember to un-plug from the grind of work?

Signs your team are burnt out and struggling with Mental Health Issues

As a manager, these are some of the signs you should watch out for when trying to identify staff members who are struggling:

Cynicism toward work or industry: Start listening to the language from your team members – are they expressing an inability to see the positives in their job? Are they dragging other team members down?

Recurring sickness / absence: Mental health issues will manifest in physical health issues and it is important to understand why team members are falling sick and what interventions are required to ensure they are bouncing back

Isolation: High-functioning teams achieve above average results because team members are pushing in the same direction and working to a common goal. As an HR manager or team leader, you should be watching out for the team members who are disengaged, not participating in meetings or providing feedback in team related activities.

Decreased productivity: As an HR executive or business manager, you manage a team to generate an economic return. You can very quickly spot the team members whose productivity is on the slide.

I can’t afford to let my team rest!

In a perfect world, all businesses would be able to prioritise the mental health and physical wellbeing of their teams. The reality is that very few businesses can actually afford to do this.

How does one justify investing in the your mental and physical wellness of your team pre-emptively?

Let’s come back to our earlier scenario with the Marketing Manager and let’s assume they are earning R30k per month. Their recovery has been delayed by 2 weeks as they are completely burnt out and when they get back to work it will take them another week or two to get up to speed. That’s a month of lost productivity and depending on how you treat their leave, that is “R30 000” which you have invested in a staff member for no return.

What would that have looked like if you had made smaller interventions earlier?

We look forward to working with organisations who wish to build high-impact, mentally-strong teams. If you would like to discuss in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact us.