We know the global mobility industry is challenging and can often be stressful for GM professionals as well as the assignees and business travelers they look after, so at Bournes Relocation Solutions we wanted to look a bit more into what we as individuals, partners and teams can do together to make life in Global Mobility better for everyone.
Mental health was once a subject with a serious stigma that few of us talked about let alone admit we have struggled with. Happily, it's now a conversation that is gathering awareness and recognition as a topic that matters to us all. Organisations and individuals in the Global Mobility industry are recognising why the promotion of good mental health is important and is much more than just 'a state of mind'.
According to mental health charity, Mind, everyone moves up and down the mental health continuum to varying degrees and 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any one year. (Source)
Benefits of good mental health to individuals
Mind suggest that if you have good mental health, typically you’ll feel the benefits through:
- Feeling confident in yourself and your value with the ability to accept and judge yourself on realistic and reasonable standards.
- Being able to feel and express a range of emotions appropriately.
- Feeling engaged with the world around you, with the ability to build and maintain positive relationships with others and contribute to the community you work and live in.
- Living and spending your time productively.
- Coping with the stresses of daily life and manage changing and uncertain times.
Benefits of good mental health to organisations
Mental health of global mobility professionals (and all other employees) should matter to organisations for many reasons.
- Employers have a social and ethical responsibility for the health and welfare of their employees.
- Poor mental health can lead to lower levels of productivity, high levels of absenteeism, increased risk of accidents, and increased costs and staff turnover.
- Good mental health culture reduces the risk of legal action and negative reputation.
According to the Centre for Mental Health in 2016 mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion in reduced productivity, staff turnover and sickness absence. (Source)
According to Mind, stress can mean the situations that put pressure on us (for example times where we have lots to do and think about or that we don't have much control over) and our reaction to being placed under this pressure that we find difficult to cope with. (Source).
Some work pressures are normal and positive - they can keep a person motivated and stimulated, but everyone has different 'tipping points' and when the stress becomes overwhelming it can start to become a problem. Stress can even go on to cause mental or physical health problems (like anxiety and depression or tiredness, headaches or upset stomach).
Stress is often the combination of high demands in a job and a low amount of control over the situation
Demands, lack of control, lack of support, lack of clear expectation, change or poor relationships can all add to stress at work. Whilst no employer is required to eliminate all workplace pressure, when there is an indication of stress it's important to take steps to manage the issues and get/provide support.
Spotting signs of stress at work
Being alert to the signs of stress can mean you can react early to either manage your own stress or support those within your team. Everyone reacts differently to stress, so it's important to keep an eye out for changes to behaviour that are more than just a 'one off' incident. For example:
- Emotional signs of stress like change in mood, tearfulness, loss of interest, lack of enjoyment, restlessness and agitation, loss of confidence or feelings of inadequacy, irritability, anxiety or feeling unable to cope and wanting to run away.
- Physical signs of stress like excessive drinking or substance abuse, difficulty sleeping or waking early, feeling exhausted or change to body language.
- Behavioural signs of stress like difficulty focusing or in starting/finishing things, avoiding contact with others or crying a lot.
- Thinking signs of stress like inability to think positively or hopefully, indecisiveness for simple decisions, lack of concentration, negative or pessimistic outlook.
9 ways to prevent and deal with workplace stress to build your mental resilience
- Communicate with your manager and your team - check in informally, make sure you have regular 121's and discuss regularly any challenges.
- Build good relationships with your colleagues.
- Ensure workload is appropriate and flag it if not. Don't take on additional responsibility for your own or others work if you're feeling under pressure and allow time for unforeseen tasks.
- Make sure breaks are taken and working hours are not excessive - work life balance is important (skipping lunch and working into the night isn't always productive!).
- Focus on small goals, plan and structure the day and manage time effectively. Prioritise work and get the most difficult tasks out of the way first thing.
- Recognise and be alert to mental health during periods of change.
- Keep healthy, stay hydrated, eat well and exercise and avoid excessive alcohol.
- Look out of the early signs and act.
- Use your 'Employee Assistance Programme' if your company has one - many offer free counselling services to provide advice and support to help you deal with your anxiety or stress both in and out of work.
By increasing your awareness of wellbeing in mental health you should be able to identify issues early and come up with a plan to deal with them before they become a problem for the benefit of yourself, your colleagues and your organisation.