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World Mental Health Day: Advice for managers on handling employee burnout

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Just this past quarter, a YouGov Omnibus survey found a third of Singaporeans, among the 1,095 surveyed, have experienced some form of suicidal thoughts – with the trend being more prevalent in women and lower income earners.

More than a third of women and men surveyed has had suicidal thoughts (36% vs. 31% respectively). Meanwhile, lower income earners (earning less than S$4,000 a month) have higher instances of suicidal thoughts than high earners (earning more than S$8,000 a month) (37% vs. 31% respectively).

On the occasion of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, Robert Half has put together four tips on managing burnout and stress in the workplace.

1. Train managers to identify and address the stress drivers

The triggers that drive workplace stress and burnout differ from employee to employee, so creating a space for early identification and response is important to help ease or change the situation. Yet, many managers are not appropriately trained to identify and address emotional distress in the workplace.

Investing in education for managers around mental health can help them to be aware of what contributes to a positive working culture, as well as provide a tool kit of identification, communication, and remedial strategies to assist employees who may display symptoms of increased stress.

ALSO READ: 3 things you need to know about hiring people with mental health conditions

2. Provide support channels for employees

Mental health is often still a taboo subject at work so it is important to openly address it. Set time aside to talk to employees. As a leader, by talking about mental health and creating awareness on the support available, you may find that employees are more likely to come forward to share their experience.

Many companies today are implementing formal employee assistance programes. Providing access to a third-party for confidential counselling and psychological services can meaningfully help in preventative and proactive interventions for employees and their immediate family members.

ALSO READ: Depression is the number one mental health issue faced by expats

3. Invest in wellbeing initiatives that aid work-life balance

Employees consistently cite work-life balance as one of the most valuable aspects of their organisation’s culture. Respecting the obligations and interests that occupy workers outside of the office, and helping employees take care of themselves onsite, can help prevent burnout at work.

From supplying fresh fruit to discounted gym memberships, time off for counselling, or creating a social club, there are lots of ways to promote wellbeing at work. Ask employees which wellbeing initiatives would make the biggest difference to their mental health, and implement them (if budgets permits).

ALSO READ: 75% of mental health problems occur by age 24

4. Recognise hard work

Feeling appreciated and well-compensated can make challenging workloads easier to manage and contribute to a positive work environment. Salary is a monetary indication, so providing opportunities for incremental growth or bonuses is one of the most valued recognitions of an employee’s work.

Also, remember that frequently saying “thank you” can go a long way. Appreciation can be as simple as a mention at a staff meeting or as involved as a nomination of your team for internal and external awards. If they do something well, take notice. If you implement ideas submitted by your team, give them credit.

ALSO READ: How male-dominated environments impact women’s mental health

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