World Mental Health Day 2022: global survey highlights growing disengagement

Pollster Gallup’s international survey – released to mark World Mental Health Day 2022 – finds employees face increasing levels of daily stress, worry and sadness, and a growing trend toward disengagement at work.

Arrows. Opposing concept
As worker stress reaches “an all-time high”, the findings that 60% of people are emotionally detached at work and 19% are unhappy should be of significant concern for employers.
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Working environments are a significant factor which influences our overall wellbeing. Work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem and affect employee engagement, productivity and wellbeing, as well as recruitment and retention.

How are Europe's workers feeling?

Throughout 2021 into the beginning of 2022, 44% of employees worldwide experienced stress “a lot of the previous day”.Digging down into the figures for Europe from Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace data, workers here: 
  • are the least likely to be engaged – only 14% are engaged compared to the rest of the world at 21%
  • are less likely to say they are thriving – a 5-percentage-point decrease on the previous survey. This compares to Australia and New Zealand, which saw a 6-percentage-point increase in thriving during the past year
  • worry daily – 37% (third-highest regional percentage in the world) 
  • face daily stress – 39% (third highest regional percentage in the world) 
  • are likely to be looking for a new job– 44% think it’s a good time to look for a new job, which Gallup says means that almost half of the region’s workers are disengaged and willing to look for a new job. 

The affluence trap?

A second study, the recently published Blind Spot: The global rise of unhappiness and how leaders missed it, finds that global misery is also increasing because of work. Many believe that a good, solid pay cheque should satisfy work needs. Yet people are unhappy at work are statistically more likely to experience negative emotions than someone who has no work at all. Along with high levels of stress among the world’s workers, Gallup finds that 15% of the population in high-income countries are living with a mental disorder compared to the global average of 13%. This finding echoes conversations at June’s Future of Work Festival Wellbeing & Engagement Hub conversation, facilitated by Rob Fletcher of Heart Relocation, Kellie Noon of Onno International Awareness and Dr Claus Springborg, leadership consultant. It asked: “what can organisations do to create the conditions that support wellbeing?” One of the conclusions was that it is time to look at rewards in the workplace differently.

Thinking differently to build healthy workplaces

Employees, employers and leaders can focus on creating a positive, thriving environment in the workplace by improving employee wellbeing programmes and better communication strategies.An important starting point is employers and managers demonstrating their awareness and acceptance of mental health and wider wellbeing issues among workers to support their employees and reduce stress, says Gallup.Noelle Murphy, Senior HR Practice Editor at XpertHR, agrees that now it is “more important than ever” to appreciate the importance of supporting employee mental wellbeing. “This year’s World Mental Health Day comes at a time of severe economic turmoil, providing a source of intense stress for individuals everywhere. This year, it is more important than ever that employers continue to support the mental wellbeing of their staff as a top priority.“Leaders and people managers must seek to ensure the right frameworks for providing meaningful support are in place, both in person and virtually. It is also just as important to ensure that employees are made aware of this support and guidance on mental health available in the workplace.Noelle Murphy also suggests adopting a listening approach/ “There is no one-size-fits all approach to supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace and employers must continue to listen to the needs of their staff with compassion and empathy. Ensuring there is flexibility within any support programmes will help to ensure employees feel safe and supported in the workplace and able to do their job to the best of their ability. “Policies such as having dedicated mental health ‘First Aiders’ within the company, providing practical financial wellbeing support or paid time off to boost mental wellbeing are just some of the ways businesses can help support their staff through a difficult time.“Most of all, it’s vital that businesses pay attention and watch out for the signs of employees who are struggling with their mental health and offer appropriate help and support – this not only makes for a more supportive workplace, it also makes for better business returns.”

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