British Telecom are one of the forefront companies in tackling Wellbeing in the Workplace. Dr Paul Litchfield, Chief Medical Officer, BT Group comments: "The work we do within BT group on employee wellbeing gives me professional and personal satisfaction. Not only are we doing the right thing by our people but we’re contributing to the success of the business.
"Wellbeing can sometimes be viewed as discretionary, something an organisation puts in place when times are good. We have shown that efforts in this area are perhaps even more important when business conditions are tough – people then particularly need a bit of help to succeed for themselves and the company."
BT has observed a range of benefits and positive outcomes for employees and the organisation, these include:
Irena-Marie continues "I came to France just over seven years ago. I have noticed that there is quite a serious problem with stress in the workplace. Although employees have a short week by UK standards - 35 hours - this in itself creates stress in many organisations.
France's white-collar employees are facing a growing litany of "brutal" psychological risks in the workplace, according to experts. The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work says the problem is not unique to France.
According to a study of 31 European countries published last year, stress at work is seen as a common phenomenon by more than half of employees.
Job insecurity, too much work and harassment were cited as the most common causes for workplace depression.
"The physical suffering once linked to work has been transformed into a more intimate form of emotional suffering," said Denis Maillard from the Technologia advisory group, which specializes in analysing risk in the workplace.
"Drudgery is now much more psychological than in the industrial world because of the demand for employees to engage differently in their work," he added.
Technologia, which has carried out a hundred studies of French companies in the past five years, found that workers at France's Post Office and unemployment agency Pole Emploi are most vulnerable to psychological problems because of demand for increased productivity.
For Jean-Claude Delgenes, head of Technologia, problems of bullying and psychological burnout reflect "an organization that forgets people and puts more and more emphasis on pressure and profitability."
Under these conditions, employees "swamped with work, will become tormentors to achieve their goals," he said.
Earlier this year The Local reported how millions of French workers were said to be close to burnout due to the pressures of overtime.
“France’s appearance from the outside can be a bit simplified,” Technologia's head Jean-Claude Delgenes told The Local newspaper at the time. “There is a lot of overtime. Most workers don’t adhere strictly to the 35-hour work week.”
Instead, they are staying late, doing more and working remotely because the economic crisis has them in fear of losing their jobs, he says. France is battling a 16-year high unemployment rate that is hovering above 10.5 percent. At the same time email and smart phones allow people to work any time, any place.
“We have poor self-control when it comes to new technology,” Delgenes said. “Work spills over into people’s private lives. The difference between work and social life used to be clearly distinct."
Irena-Marie comments: "For the past two years I have been helping companies establish programmes on ‘wellbeing at work’. Yet with all the statistics and case studies showing amazing results, it's incredible how many organisations still view it as 'nice to do' but not essential."
Depression is a huge problem, afflicting about 121 million people worldwide.
It has tragic consequences: it lowers mood, saps energy, and reduces the will to live. Sufferers often find they cannot work, reducing their ability to earn a living for themselves and their families. Unlike other serious illness, depression has no outward signs – no blisters, fever, or rash – so it is invisible to others. Sufferers feel ashamed, worthless, a failure – and because they cannot understand why they feel so bad, constantly torture themselves with questions about what’s gone wrong.
Depression is not limited to rich countries. The World Health Organisation says that:
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Article by Irena-Marie Makowska
Irena-Marie is a Mind Coach. Specialised in wellbeing, mental health, emotional intelligence, resilience and performance for individuals and companies worldwide. In addition she creates and facilitates workshops both online and onsite.