World update recognises emotional key to healthy workplaces

Australian Medical Association/AusMed

In its recent 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), The World Health Organisation recognised the serious effects of burnout, defining it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

The condition is characterised by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Recent findings reveal that workers who describe themselves as mentally distant, or disengaged had 37 per cent more absenteeism, 49 per cent more workplace accidents, and 60 per cent more issues with accuracy and defects.

In Australia, AccessEAP is a leading Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider. It says businesses need emotionally intelligent leaders who know how to respond to a situation in a way that facilitates positive behaviours.

Its Clinical Director Marcela Slepica said: “Emotions and vulnerability are part of who we are and that doesn’t just go away when we enter the workplace. Opening up to colleagues and letting them know when I was feeling vulnerable, allowed me to make real connections, gain support and feel better sooner. Leaders should show compassion and support workers to do the same, simply put, leaders need to lead by example.”

Insight and awareness around the feelings of others is a skill that can be learned and developed. Upskilling managers to both identify and manage their own emotions, as well as those of employees, is vital for a harmonious workplace. With five generations working side by side, leaders need to adapt their style to respect the needs of different generations.

AccessEAP says it is risky for an organisation to ignore the feelings of their team. Engagement is fundamentally an emotional phenomenon, so when employees have a strong reaction, it can impact on many areas including, working relationships, concentration, productivity and decision making. Understanding the impact that feelings can have on a worker’s ability to function and knowing how to manage them are essential skills for leaders.

Someone who is unhappy or burnt out will impact on others. It is estimated that to replace a full-time employee it costs a business around six to nine months of that person’s salary, recruitment and training costs. For someone who is earning $50,000, it could cost $25,000 to $37,500 to replace them. To avoid this costly result, AccessEAP says, it is imperative to focus on engagement and wellbeing initiatives, which essentially means recognising the importance of emotions.

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).