Published on 11th May 2023
We spend a third of our life at work. And recent developments, like the acceleration of digitalisation and the adoption of remote working following the Covid-19 pandemic, have blurred boundaries between work and our private lives.
Consequently, workers’ mental and physical well-being suffer, and mental health issues are increasing.
In 2021, the Adecco Group and LHH surveyed 14,800 white-collar workers between the ages of 18 and 60, spread across 25 countries. The survey found that over the previous 12 months, 38 percent were suffering from burnout, and 32 percent said their mental health had declined as a result. The 2022 edition of the same survey (now including 34,200 white-collar and non-desk workers) showed that mental health had again worsened for a fourth of the respondents.
In reaction to this growing challenge, companies roll out solutions like healthy food, games, and yoga sessions over lunchtime. What is often overlooked – and actually more impactful – is an investment in career support.
The impact of one’s career satisfaction is often underestimated in the overall well-being conversation. Work remains very much our identity, and when you are in a job that you don’t enjoy, it affects all areas of your life. And it is detrimental to companies as well. According to the Adecco Group 2022 survey, 17 percent of workers globally take sick days to balance their mental health. Well-being issues are further reasons behind high turnover rates, with many workers leaving their jobs or retiring to improve their mental health. In short, employers that don’t support well-being are losing workers.
How to enable well-being at work
So how to jugulate the hemorrhage? First – identify the problem. The Adecco Group survey mentioned earlier revealed that more than half (51 percent) of frontline managers – the leaders who have the most contact with non-managerial staff daily – admitted they struggled to identify and address issues of burnout and mental well-being in their teams. Without adequate training, leaders struggle to identify when employees need support.
Second – frame solutions to support a culture of well-being at work. It can start as simple as ensuring workers are taking their time off, up to developing a culture of trust. Workers globally identified both as “must haves” to be implemented by employers to support their well-being.
The power of proactive career management
At a time when the skills mismatch requires more career transitions than ever, adequate career support could prove particularly impactful to positively support happiness at work and mitigate mental health challenges. As Risesmart dubs it, ‘career wellness’ involves the personal satisfaction of employees resulting from work/life balance and achievement of personal goals. When employees’ skills are aligned with business goals, they can steer a company through difficult economic times and boost business growth.
However, organisations are not investing enough in career support and development of their employees. Indeed, 24 percent of global non-managers indicated they had never had any formal or informal career conversation with their managers. Organisations are also not sufficiently strategic around actively reskilling their workforce to move into the roles now and into the future.
Career development programs enable individuals to take control of their careers and increase their sense of empowerment. Ensuring that career pathways are visible to the workforce and offering options so they can move into those promote career wellness significantly contribute to preventing skills stagnation. That doesn’t mean employees leave once they are trained; on the contrary, job satisfaction increases as a result, and workers are more likely to stay.
In the context of labour shortages and record levels of employee disengagement, it is time to invest in mental health at work. Offering career development programs could pay off far more than a fancy smoothie machine.