The working world is constantly changing. Employees increasingly feel they cannot meet the demands at work. The advancing digitalization of the working world can also trigger anxiety and stress. Every one in four employees in Switzerland shows signs of mental strain.
There are a large number of different mental illnesses and types of strain. Our checklists for managers will help you recognize them at an early stage. In this article, we concentrate on dealing with employees who are showing signs of burnout or suffering from depression. Attach the necessary importance to the subject of mental health at your company – with the goal of increasing performance, motivation, and the productivity of the entire organization.
We address the following questions:
A high level of pressure at work, constant interruptions, and management and team problems can all be relevant causes of mental stress. However, a lack of appreciation from managers, a lack of trust, or unsolved conflicts can also adversely affect the mental wellbeing of employees. The stress is often not just due to the situation at work. It arises from the serious interaction of stress at work and problems in an employee's private life. Even if psychological problems have their root cause in a personal situation, they are not only a private matter and can also have negative effects for the affected person at the workplace. For this reason, it is always the responsibility of the employer to respond.
Managers normally sense changes in behavior, work conduct, or in the social interaction of an employee very quickly. Some symptoms don’t seem disconcerting in the beginning. But as soon as these accumulate, increased attention is required.
The symptoms of burnout syndrome are varied and can have different causes. To ensure you can respond at an early stage, you as the boss should look out for the following early indicators of mental stress in your employees:
Emotional and physical condition
If an employee is headed toward a burnout, they will usually show several of the symptoms listed above.
In the work environment today, the subject of psychological stress is still taboo. Those affected fear being stigmatized and losing their job. Ignoring obvious problems exacerbates the situation for all involved. It is important to address the issue if you suspect one of your employees is affected by mental stress. We explain how.
Even with the best of intentions, it is not easy to talk to someone about their apparent problems. It requires empathy, discretion, and good preparation. Managers cannot afford to ignore the signs of burnout syndrome, depression, or another mental illness. It can have unforeseen consequences not only for the affected employee, but also for the team and the company as a whole. The earlier you react, for example by talking to the employee, the better. At best, it can even mitigate the possible progression of the disease and improve the employees chances of receiving successful therapy.
In general, it is important that you as a manager create a basis of trust and an open and appreciative culture within your team. Invest in an open culture during "good times" and create the basis for open discussion for when the employees are not feeling well.
If you observe symptoms of a burnout, depression, or other mental illness among your employees, the first thing to do is seek dialog with the affected person. Talk privately to your employee, explain that you are worried, and arrange for a meeting in a calm atmosphere and without time pressure.
Not every employee will want to talk about their problems at the workplace. There is a real fear of a stigma, and maybe even of repression, if a mental illness like depression is diagnosed. This prevents the employee from addressing burnout and its treatment with their manager. It is the right of every person to disclose as much about themselves as they want. Exerting pressure would only make matters worse.
In this case, encourage your employee to get support from an independent help center. Depending on the size of the company, there may be an inhouse care contact for employees. Or you can refer the employee to an external contact like Pro Mente Sana.
If the employee has suffered from mental problems for a longer period of time, and has even taken sick leave, then depending on the care management, daily benefits insurance or the responsible disability insurance office may be able to provide further assistance.
You can find the advantages of corporate health management (CHM) here.
The law states that, when staff are sick, employers must continue to pay their salaries for a certain period. This regulation is socially motivated and derives from the duty of care that companies have towards their staff. In addition to a contractual continued salary payment agreement, the length of employment and the canton in which the business operates determine the actual length of the statutory obligation to make continued salary payments. This ranges from three weeks for employees in their first year of service to 46 weeks for long-serving employees. The Zurich, Bern, and Basel scales are used to calculate the actual length of time.
After the waiting period agreed with the company, the (voluntary) daily benefits insurance pays money (= daily benefits) – thus ensuring continued salary payment through the insurance in the event of illness.
The experts of AXA and Pro Mente Sana advise the following: