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Local companies should pay more attention on workers’ mental health

This is because mental health will negatively impact the employees’ quality of life, productivity and wellbeing

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by AFP

HEALTH and security services rm International SOS Group of Cos said employers should be more attentive towards workers’ mental health even more now with the pandemic still lingering.

According to International SOS Regional GM and South-East Asia director Jing Tan, mental health issues have become more prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic as it would negatively impact the employees’ quality of life, productivity and wellbeing.

“Although Covid-19 is not the only factor affecting mental health, the situation has heightened it.

“With mental health and emotional struggles being one of the most important stigmas stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that businesses address the issue of mental health head on, developing a holistic mental wellbeing strategy to fulfil duty of care responsibilities and build employees’ overall resilience,” he said.

Tan also quoted from its report Risk Outlook 2021 which revealed that one in three risk professionals believe that mental health issues will contribute significantly to declining productivity levels this year.

Businesses that support employees appropriately will be more productive compared to those that do not.

“As such, organisations need to ensure their people’s emotional needs are addressed by dedicated health experts through medically-informed health and mental wellbeing programmes and initiatives.

“Employees should be provided with a route to confidentially discuss their emotional health issues away from their direct managers and teams. It is about cultivating a workplace culture which understands how different employees may be experiencing different mental health issues,” he added.

Tan believes that organisations should prioritise mental health and recognise that it is important for them rather than looking at it as an add-on.

Both the government and NGOs have been working on introducing more programmes and campaigns to raise awareness about mental health.

International SOS recommends that Malaysian firms to take measures by checking on their employees individually so businesses can form a better understanding of how they are coping through this period.

A one-on-one session can be conducted or using a mental health or resilience surveys with tools that can uncover individual pain points.

Furthermore, companies also need to ensure their employees are aware of secure and confidential routes for sharing their mental health issues since naturally people do not feel comfortable in sharing their mental health with their colleagues or manager.

Therefore, employees should be able to discuss their mental health issues with people within a business away from their direct teams, preferably a human resources manager or someone with mental health first aid training.

Another method is to allow or encourage people to take regular breaks within the workdays.

One example is through the Pomodoro technique where one would take a 15 to 30 minutes break every 25 minutes, which is known to improve concentration and avoid procrastination.

Employees should also consider the information their workers are receiving, especially on the correct information for Covid-19.

They need to check in with them on a personal level to ensure they are receiving information from the correct sources as this would help them understand the real situation.

Moreover, companies should provide their staff with the tools to help them understand the level of personal responsibility which must be encouraged.

This is to enable a workplace culture that promotes self-care, such as allowing their employees to go for a walk and exercising.

Dayang Norazhar

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