How leaders can get workplace mental health and wellness on the money
The mental toll the global pandemic has played on an accountant is not to be overlooked. Significant changes and increasing demands in the working environment have resulted in a spike in mental health and wellness issues for accountants.
The roles require numerical precision and accuracy, which can be stressful to some. In addition, the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19 have led many businesses and customers into financial and psychosocial difficulties, adding more pressure to the workforce. Over time, this may lead accounting professionals to develop mental and physical health issues such as depression, anxiety and pain.
Identifying alarming behaviour at work
To prevent mental health issues from developing in the workplace, it is important to know how to identify the red flags or alarming behaviours early. While symptoms might differ from one person to another, there are some common cues business leaders can encourage employees to look out for that could suggest stress to the body and mind.
- Depression: Reduced hours of sleep, lack of appetite, losing interest in activities, no motivation, irritability, more interpersonal conflicts, difficulty concentrating and performance reduction.
- Anxiety: Sweating, breathlessness, chest tightness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and poor concentration.
- Physical: Sore eyes, neck, shoulder, back, leg pain due to prolonged sitting.
The volatility and nature of work for an accountant as well as their accountability has been pressed further by the pandemic leading to an increased level of stress with the potential to lead to depression, anxiety and pain.
Depression is often hard to identify for both the individual and those around them as it is not physically visible to the human eye. Therefore, business leaders need to encourage employees to monitor stress symptoms so treatment can be sought early.
Formulating solutions to the problems
As business leaders, it’s good to note that any issues the workforce is facing when it comes to stress and mental health can be tackled if you implement the right strategies and tactics to mitigate these issues.
1. Encourage wellbeing monitoring
Wellbeing monitoring is paramount to ensure that the situation does not worsen and any identified symptoms or issues are being cared for. Wellbeing monitoring can be done through regular selfchecks and understanding how your body reacts to stress. Business leaders should encourage employees to be aware of these symptoms, communicate their challenges and act where necessary.
2. Improve physical health
Stress and mental health symptoms tend to worsen the perception of pain; therefore, it is important to monitor the body as a whole both mentally and physically. Business leaders should look at encouraging employees to maintain physical health through a well-balanced diet and exercise. Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques can also be explored and implemented individually or as a group.
3. Foster social interactions within the workplace
As social beings, communication and social interactions are a crucial part of our lives. With changes around workplace arrangements amid COVID-19, business leaders should encourage and enable employees to have avenues to interact with each other even while working remotely. Business leaders should create sociable settings through casual Zoom catchups or, where possible, face-to-face meetings, or provide a safe peer support environment for those who are facing these challenges.
4. Enable employees to adjust workload
With working from home becoming increasingly normal, it is important for employers and employees to communicate regularly to establish expectations, deadlines and boundaries. Where possible, the inclusion of flexibility concerning workload, work hours and personal or family obligations may be beneficial.
5. Implement and communicate available resources
An Employee Assistance Program or EAP is a workbased intervention program created to help employees navigate stressful life circumstances. EAP is confidential and paid for by employers and is free to employees. EAP is often overlooked, however, the valuable benefits EAP brings to workplace mental health and wellbeing should not be overlooked. EAP aims to provide preventative and provocative intervention to identify or resolve mental health issues.
Once this is implemented, it is the business leaders’ responsibility to communicate the offerings so that employees understand what resources are available to help them cope.
6. Support struggling employees to reach out and seek professional help
If you notice signs of deteriorating wellbeing within the workplace it is important to seek help early. Depending on the severity of the issue, business leaders should advise employees to seek professional help if they are struggling to find ways to resolve their issue. When it comes to mental health and wellbeing, prevention is always better than cure.
Accountants’ wellbeing is of utmost importance
Mental health support for accounting professionals plays a pivotal role in navigating the present and upcoming challenges in the workplace. Taking care of your employees’ mental health and wellbeing should be one of your top business priorities as business leaders.
It goes without saying that the first step to achieving work/life balance is to have good mental health and wellbeing. Be open to the idea of exploring ways to mitigate the risk to ensure that the most important asset to your business is well taken care of.
Dr Frank Chow director and psychiatrist, 2OP Health