Your alarm goes off in the morning, the second you open your eyes your whole body fills with dread and nausea, it’s Monday. No one should feel this way going to their place of work, however, the harsh reality is that this is the case for many of us. A study by ADECO found that around 30% of the UK dread going to their job due to the environment.
Personally I can vouch for this, having been unhappy in a job role more often than happy, and 99% of the time it being due to poor management and a bad atmosphere, its clear mental health needs to be taken more seriously.
In theory it shouldn’t be hard, regular check ins with staff, mood monitoring systems, maintaining professional boundaries and treating all staff with respect and consideration. With every corporation having its own ‘management style’, how is it that so many share the same outcome. Poor management and enormous staff turnovers and yet it feels as though the manager never leaves, and the toxic atmosphere remains. It does not discriminate, in every field there is poor management, the majority of reviews on Glass door, a site that allows potential employees to get an idea about the company from previous staff, is rife with negative reviews regarding management, working conditions and pay inequalities covering all job roles.
Poor management not only negatively effects the staff, it also negatively effects the company, with a workforce less likely to go above and beyond, increased sickness days, and a constant flow of new staff to be trained, it’s in everyone’s favour to have good management. With three hundred thousand employees every year losing their jobs due to poor mental health the UK is in an epidemic. The place we spend most of our lives, our work, should be taking an active role to ensure a positive environment and good mental health for their employees.
Castle Furniture Project, my current employer, is the only company I have worked for that takes an active role in their employee’s mental health. With a mood monitoring system attached to our sign in tablet, 3 negative moods in a row will be flagged up to our health and wellbeing nurse, who is qualified to deal with mental health issues. Evidence from this system has shown it to be literally lifesaving in a previous incidence, giving an employee the opportunity to seek help without having to directly ask for it, preventing them from making a life altering decision. We are just one company, based in a small town in Fife, and this system has still saved a life, how many lives in the future could be saved, from a simple system such as this being incorporated into every work place.
Are these managers just miserable in their job role, too focused on impressing a superior, lacking communication skills or simply mistaking authoritarianism for management, regardless of the cause what can we do as their staff, to make our lives slightly less miserable.
Coronavirus may have left us as the employee in a better position. LaFawn Davis, Senior Vice President, Environmental, Social and Governance at Indeed, said “Job postings in the UK have soared above their pre-pandemic level. As the labour market shakes off the ill-effects of the pandemic, the adjustments caused by Covid-19 have tipped the balance of power in favour of jobseekers”. This leaves us in a position to be pickier with our employers, to ask more questions regarding mental health in that work place, and ultimately to pick an employer whom you resonate with most.
However if leaving your current job is not an option, here are some tips I have gathered to improve your current working environment.
Make your desk YOUR space: Adding small things to your working space that boosts your mood will inevitably help you lift your spirits at work, it’s where you spend most of your time. Investing in some plants, reed diffusers, photos of family and friends can bring an element of home comfort into your working environment.
Befriend your co-workers: Although this can sometimes feel like the hardest part of a job, having friendly relationships with those around you can certainly boost moral when n the workplace, and if you’re lucky you might even look forward to going in! Once you open the lines of communication it will get easier, baby steps!
Tell your boss: Unless it’s your boss causing the anxiety, letting them be aware of how you feel in work can be beneficial for you. Whether its extra support in work meetings, potentially not being called on for comments until you’re more comfortable, or just slowing the pace down until you feel more confident. Never feel embarrassed or any less than due to your mental health, if you had a broken arm wearing a cast wouldn’t be embarrassing, so transfer the same logic to your mental health too.
Start your day with positivity: Nothing quite adds stress to your Monday morning like being late does, setting your alarm that little bit earlier and prioritising YOURSELF first pays off. Although the extra 10 minutes in bed are tempting, it realistically doesn’t make you any less tired. Drinking your favourite coffee and going for a morning walk however, will improve your mood for the whole day, and don’t forget to make your bed!
Working from home: It’s easy when working from home to fall into the trap of staying in your pjs all day and working in your bed, however this has been proven to reduce productivity and have a negative impact on mental health. Find a space in your home where you can sit and complete your tasks, dressing in work appropriate clothing will also boost your productivity.
Here are some useful links local to Scotland for help with managing work stress.
Fife employment access trust - https://fifeemploymentaccesstrust.com/contact-us
Head Space - https://www.headspace.com/work/well-being