Mental Health

Heavy workloads take toll on employees’ mental health

Report: Confidence Board survey shows 34% of American workers reporting a decline in their mental well-being

A new report from The Conference Board says that long hours and excessive workloads are taking a toll on the mental health of the American worker. More than one-third of workers surveyed say their mental health has “taken a turn for the worse” over the past six months.

The report defines mental health as “a state of mind characterized by emotional well-being, good behavioral adjustment, relative freedom from anxiety and disabling symptoms, and a capacity to establish constructive relationships and cope with the ordinary demands and stresses of life.”

Nearly half of workers who say their mental health and well-being has declined also report working more than 50 hours a week. “Also hurting workers’ mental health are poor workplace communication (42%), lessened ability to balance the demands of work and personal life (41%), and time spent in meetings (40%),” according to the report.

What would relieve the sense of stress, many answered a better work-life balance and more flexibility on the job, including being able to take “no work” paid time off days without any associated guilt.

While more than half the workers says they needed time off to address their mental health needs, the report finds that 38% of workers don’t feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their bosses — that number is more than double the finding in the last report (18%).

“Instead, workers took unofficial mental health days (13%), used sick days (19%), or continued to work (18%),” according to The Confidence Board report.

Such stress and lack of perceived support can take a toll on employee and employer.

“This survey reveals that many workers are really struggling with their mental health. This could be due to a combination of factors both inside and outside of the workplace, but the fact remains that it can have an outsized impact on work performance,” says Rebecca Ray, executive vice president, Human Capital, The Conference Board in a news release.

“Workers need the ability to truly disconnect and reset, but many companies are now recognizing that this can be a major challenge when their colleagues are still working. Some businesses have opted for ‘no work’ days or weeks when everyone is off. But letting your employees disconnect can simply mean ensuring everyone has an established backup and setting strict no contact policies for staff on vacation.”

You can read more details at The Conference Board website.