In the past decade, mental well-being has become a more important matter in society. More and more people are taking better care of their mental health, and the services dedicated to mental health continue to rise.
In the workplace, mental health has also become an important factor in many areas, especially in employee retention. Back then, people were hesitant to quit their jobs even if it is wearing them down to their core. But today, more people value their physical and mental well-being more than loyalty to their company. In fact, one of the most common reasons why millennials and Gen Zs quit their jobs is because it takes too much of a toll on their mental health.
It is high time for companies to rethink their culture, business practices, and employee engagement strategies to promote better mental health in the workplace. To start, here are the possible causes of toxic workplaces that force employees to quit:
There is no mental health first aid program
Like physical ailments, mental health requires first aid to prevent the development or exacerbation of mental health problems, especially in a high-stress environment like a workplace. Luckily, mental health first-aid courses already exist to help managers and workplace health workers (on-site doctors and nurses) respond appropriately to an employee experiencing or developing a mental health problem.
A mental health first aid program at work can make a big difference in helping employees improve their overall well-being. For example, if an employee is on the verge of burning out, a trained manager can provide the proper response and help that employee decompress. Doing so helps improve that employee’s well-being, but it also helps avoid productivity issues and, worse—abrupt resignation.
The culture is toxic
Every company has a unique culture in the workplace. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy nor positive. In toxic workplaces, employees are more likely to get burnt out, exhibit low productivity, and quit much sooner than expected, along with a barrage of other negative outcomes. These have direct effects on the companies, such as reduced output, higher retention, and a bad reputation among job seekers.
It can be quite easy to determine if a workplace is toxic. Here are the most common signs:
- Employees say that they are often stressed or burnt out
- Employees spend more time hanging out than working
- Toxic gossip is commonplace
- Employees are not keen to innovate or provide constructive feedback
- Working overtime is common
- Employees don’t know what’s going on in the company
- There are too many micromanagers on the team
- The management does not acknowledge small wins
- Attendance and/or timeliness is poor
- Employees are hesitant to ask questions or seek help from managers
- Attrition is higher than normal
- Constructive criticism falls on deaf ears
For every cause, there is a solution. The responsibility of reforming the culture is primarily the duty of the HR department. However, for true culture reformation to happen, managers and employees themselves must also have active involvement.
Mental health is not a valid excuse
If employees are down with the flu, normal managers won’t make them come to work. Why should it be different for a mental ailment? Even if employees cannot prove that they are going through a mental health problem, workplaces should treat it as a valid excuse. However, the validity of a “mental health problem” as an excuse to miss work is often ambiguous.
Many argue that employees could use mental health as a false excuse to miss work. However, that notion harms the people suffering from mental health problems and need to take some time off. And if a workplace downright dismisses mental health as an excuse for absence, they are taking away the right of people with mental illnesses.
There are toxic managers
People don’t quit because they hate their job—they quit because of a bad boss.
Management plays a significant role in the culture of a workplace. Since managers and supervisors directly interact with employees, they greatly affect the well-being of the people on their teams. For this reason, bad management usually results in increased burnouts, poor co-worker relationships, and low employee retention.
Whether it’s bad bosses, toxic cultures, or lack of mental health support, workplaces must address the root causes that can contribute to employees’ poor mental health. Doing so will make for a healthier working environment, but it will also result in favorable effects for the company, such as better productivity, higher motivation, and increased employee retention.