There is clearly something in the air at the moment as we are seeing more unrest, exhaustion, short fuses, lack of accountability and quick to blame behaviour causing significant conflict in workplaces across all levels.
The ‘Work from Home’ debate is clearly getting a lot of ‘airplay’ this month forcing organisations to confirm what their policy is around this. Generally we are seeing up to two days from home once an employee has been employed for more than six months (depending of course on the stage of the business, level and capacity of team and requirements for the position to be there in person).
Utilisation of personal leave is also being reviewed with an increased trend of team members just deciding to ‘work from home’ when they are unwell or children are unwell. This obviously challenges many different debates on both sides (i.e. should an employee be working when sick and are they actually able to work while they or their child is sick vs employees trying to do the right thing by employers and ensure work still gets done with the ability to perhaps take more regular breaks when needed).
The result of this is that organisation’s sick leave balances (and sometimes annual leave) are skyrocketing as team members are not using them in the same way they did before. Accordingly, we are starting to see organisation build policies around working from home when sick that firstly involves a request being made (rather than just making the decision themselves) and taking a minimum of half of a day sick leave if they are able to work at all.
This begs the question — why all of a sudden are our people, team, customers and clients so on edge, touchy, stressed, mad and resigned right now?
Psychosocial issues are becoming more prominent and complex due to a combination of social, cultural, technological, and economic changes that are shaping the modern world and are also contributing to the complexity of issues causing the above. Here are some key factors from my observations that I believe are contributing to the increasing significance of psychosocial issues:
Economic pressures: It is no secret that the dramatic increase of cost of living is adding mounted stress to people within the workplace. The pressure to succeed financially, now even more out of absolute necessity in recent months, just to meet mortgages and pay grocery bills, is leading to higher cases of burnout, decreased wellbeing, and strained relationships.
Keeping up with technology that’s starting to outsmart us: The rapid growth of technology and its integration into various aspects of life — particularly AI, has led to changes in the way people communicate, work, and interact. While technology offers numerous benefits (half of this newsletter was written with the help from AI, as just one example), it has also introduced challenges like digital addiction, cyberbullying, and a sense of disconnection from real-life interactions that humans so fundamentally need to survive and thrive. It has also added job anxiety through its disruption to a number of industries with people questioning their relevancy and safety in their jobs, with a fear they may soon be “replaced”.
The impact of increased social media use and availability: The rise of social media has transformed how individuals perceive themselves and others, and is now even starting to shape our brains. It can lead to social comparison, changes in focus, attention and develops a constant need for validation, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Changing family dynamics: Traditional family structures are evolving, with an increase in single-parent households, dual-income families, and long-distance relationships. These changes can lead to shifts in support systems and impact individuals’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
Collective recovery from COVID: Having lived through three years of uncertainty, fear, drastic changes in employment, financial strain, snap lockdowns and an uprising of businesses closing down, it is evident these events have triggered widespread psychological distress, and we’re starting to witness and experience the aftershocks of such a catastrophic, global event. The continuous exposure to news and information about such events can further exacerbate anxiety and stress.
Reduced social interactions due to remote working: Yes, working in your PJs and doing a load of washing on your lunch break comes with its benefits, but coming into the third year of people working more and more from home, has also come at a cost. People are feeling more isolated than ever, and with daily ‘micro-interactions’ being eliminated from people’s day-to-day lives, this is leaving people feeling lonely.
Mental health stigma reduction: While there has been progress in reducing the stigma around mental health, paired with growing awareness, it’s also leading to more people feeling comfortable seeking help (which is great!). As a result, a growing number of individuals are identifying and addressing their psychosocial issues, contributing to the perception that these issues are becoming more prevalent.
It’s important to note that psychosocial issues are complex and multifaceted, influenced by a wide range of individual, societal, and environmental factors. While these issues are becoming more prominent, efforts are being made to increase mental health awareness, provide better access to care, and promote overall well-being in the face of these challenges.
Need some extra support in your workplace right now? Contact one of our experienced and friendly consultants today for a free 30 minute chat.