Mental Health in the Workplace Challenges & Solutions for HR

Singapore’s work environment is notorious for its high pressure, affecting mental health in the workplace significantly. It influences productivity, job satisfaction, and even creating workplace conflict among colleagues.

According to the recent National Population Health Survey, the prevalence of poor mental health escalated from 13.4% in 2020 to a shocking 17% in 2022. This data highlights the urgent need to focus on strategies that prioritise and actively promote mental wellbeing.

Current State of Mental Wellbeing in Singapore Workplaces

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These compelling findings underscore the urgency for employers and policymakers to prioritise mental wellbeing in their strategies and policies. It is crucial to address these concerns for the betterment of the workforce and the overall performance of organisations.

The survey conducted by the Ministry of Health studied the health, risk factors, and lifestyle habits of Singapore residents aged 18 to 74 from July 2021 to June 2022. The highest rate of poor mental health was found amongst younger adults aged 18 to 29, at 25.3%. Furthermore, gender disparities were observed, with a higher percentage of females (18.6%) reporting poor mental health than males (15.2%).

When compared to other Asian markets surveyed in 2023, Singapore’s stress levels were lower than Hong Kong’s 19%, but twice as high as mainland China’s 8%, globally, Singaporeans rank among the most stressed at work.

Factors Affecting Mental Health & Wellbeing in Singapore Workplaces

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Workplace mental health in Singapore is a complex issue, shaped by a combination of factors:

1. Economic Factors

Singapore’s high-pressure work environment, with its relentless deadlines, certainly adds to the stress. But it’s not just the job itself. Economic factors, like the rising cost of living spiked by the GST hike, pile on even more stress. Furthermore, we can’t ignore the mental toll from broader economic trends like inflation, recessions, and layoffs.

2. Financial Stress

Interestingly, it turns out Singaporean workers are more stressed about their finances than most people worldwide. This money stress doesn’t just affect mental wellbeing – it also hits productivity and efficiency. Half of Singaporean workers were stressed about money, a figure that’s 10% higher than the global average. And this financial stress is thought to knock overall productivity and efficiency down by a staggering 20%.

Also Read: 10 Know-How to Negotiate A Higher Salary During An Interview!

3. The Challenge of Balancing Work and Personal Life

Work-life balance, or more accurately, the lack of it, is another big challenge that many employees face. With 70% of Singaporeans point to poor work-life balance due to heavy workloads as a major worry, this issue doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. It heavily impacts their mental wellbeing, productivity, and happiness at work.

Also Read: 5 Reasons Employees Leave High-Paying Jobs in Singapore

4. Lack of Supportive Work Environment

While having a supportive work environment is essential for mental wellbeing, it’s concerning to see that many workplaces in Singapore still fall short in this area.

81% of Singapore employers have taken steps to combat workplace discrimination and foster diversity and inclusion. But, there’s still a significant 19% who haven’t. These workplaces may unintentionally leave their employees without the necessary support to handle stress and preserve their mental health.

5. Mental Health Crisis in Singapore’s Workplaces Amid COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has added another layer of stress to Singapore’s workplaces. The shift to remote work was a new experience for many, leading to increased stress levels, with a study finding about 41% of remote workers feeling the pressure. This number is significantly higher than the 25% of those still working in the office.

The pandemic has also brought more attention to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and burnout.

Also Read: How to Secure a Job Post-COVID? Here’s 7 Effective Tips!

Impact of Poor Mental Health & Wellbeing on Employees and Organisations: A Critical Analysis

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1. Impact on Employees

  • Skipping Work, High Staff Turnover, and Disengagement
    Employees might find it hard to focus or make decisions, leading to mistakes and inefficiency. This can result in more skipped workdays, high turnover rates, and even “quiet quitting” where folks just check out and stop trying, even though they’re still technically employed.
  • Job Satisfaction and Employee Engagement
    Employees may call in sick more often or start coming late to work. In severe cases, they might even think about saying goodbye to their jobs, resulting in high turnover rates which can hit businesses hard.
  • Social Relationships and Work Culture Impact
    Employees might withdraw or become irritable, leading to tensions within teams and sabotaging collaboration efforts. This can contribute to a toxic work culture marked by misunderstandings, conflicts, and lack of co-operation.

2. Impact on Businesses

  • Drop in Productivity and Staff Turnover
    When productivity drops, fewer works are completed effectively, which can lead to decreased profits. Additionally, high staff turnover disrupts the workflow as new employees need time to learn their roles and reach their full performance potential.
  • Harm to Company Image and Culture
    A negative work atmosphere stemming from poor mental health can damage the company’s image and culture, making it tough to draw in and retain top-notch talent. This could potentially lead to a brain drain and decrease the company’s edge in the market.

Role of Human Resources in Promoting Mental Wellbeing in Workplaces

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Considering the escalating concerns surrounding mental wellbeing in Singapore workplaces, it’s essential for HR to take proactive steps and implement customised wellness programs targeting mental health, ensuring the diverse needs of the workforce are met.

  • Mindfulness Training
    A prevalent strategy in modern wellness initiatives, this approach furnishes employees with the skills needed to manage stress effectively and maintain equanimity in the face of work-related challenges.
  • Stress Management Workshops
    These workshops provide employees with valuable insights into identifying stress triggers and crafting effective coping mechanisms, aligning with the realities of Singapore’s high-pressure work environment.
  • Promoting Open Dialogues about Mental Health
    Fostering a work culture where employees feel safe and supported to discuss their mental health openly results in understanding, empathy, and collective support, thereby creating a more inclusive and compassionate work environment.
  • Employee Assistance Programmes
    These resources provide indispensable support to employees, assisting them in addressing personal issues that impact their work performance and mental health. Services like counselling, legal advice, and financial planning assistance are offered.

How is the Singapore Government Addressing Mental Health Issues in the Workplace?

The government has introduced several mental health support programmes. HR can also encourage employees to participate in these programmes:

  • The Community Mental Health (CMH) programme promotes early detection and intervention of mental health conditions and provides continuous community-based care and support.
  • Fostering understanding and acceptance of mental health, The Beyond The Label campaign encourages open conversations, and creating a more inclusive workplace environment.
  • Employees can be encouraged to join the Wellbeing Champions Network, which promotes mental health by offering a platform for sharing, learning, training, advocacy, and shaping mental health policies.

Final Words

Considering the current state of mental health in the workplace in Singapore, where stress levels and mental health issues are increasingly prevalent, it becomes absolutely essential for businesses to place a high priority on implementing and promoting strategies that support the mental health of their employees. Singapore job agencies can also play a crucial role in this by advocating for healthier work environments and helping employers find candidates who are better suited to manage workplace stress.

By doing so, they can cultivate a positive work environment that fosters employee satisfaction, productivity, and overall business success.