MONTHLY BAROMETER – WELLNESS EDITION
Nobody quite knows why the 21st-century workplace seems to be so conducive to overwork, burnout and depression, but the global issue of mental health at work is reaching such proportions that it’s now dubbed the “trillion-dollar taboo.”
Is it the high-pressure culture of today’s marketplace? The prevailing social norms that make it shameful to show vulnerability? The “always-on” digital culture? It’s hard to pinpoint a single culprit, but the reality is this: Burnout is becoming a public health crisis that, beyond individual tragedies, now entails tangible large financial and economic costs: higher turnover in the businesses that are most affected, higher healthcare costs, and, of course, overall lower productivity ($1 trillion per year, according to the WHO).
Contrary to popular perception, burnout affects all sorts of employees in all sectors, not only those high-end achievers in industries prone to exceedingly demanding workplace cultures (such as tech, finance, consulting or law). To prove the point, in the UK, stress, depression and burnout amount to 44 percent of all work-related ill-health and account for 57 percent of all lost working days due to ill-health.
What can be done? The greatest impediment in addressing the issue of mental health at work seems to be the unreceptiveness of senior managers to have conversations about the problem. Therefore, companies need to put into place proper corporate mental health strategies and address the issue systemically—breathing exercises and the occasional yoga mat won’t cut it anymore. The wellness industry should rise to this challenge, pave the way, and demonstrate exemplarity.