Mental Health In The Workplace – Are We Headed In The Right Direction?

    Mental Health In The Workplace - Are We Headed In The Right Direction?

    For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our daily bread and often where we make our friends who sometimes turn into family – so it’s only fair that our work should be a healthy and thriving environment seeing as it plays a significant role in our psychological and mental health.

    We all have times when life gets on top of us – sometimes that’s work-related, like deadlines or travel. Sometimes it’s something else – our health, our relationships, or our circumstances.

    A toxic work environment can be corrosive to our mental health and this is an increasingly important aspect to consider especially at a time like this

    Mental Health In The Workplace - Are We Headed In The Right Direction?This led me to think, how do we treat and have a conversation about the mental well being in the workplace? Kenya is already a difficult work environment as is. In light of this, any complaints about fatigue, bullying and harassment at work leading to bad mental health is deemed as being ungrateful. Most people at work would be told to just hold on or not to talk about it.

    Recently, Safaricom was listed as number 67 on the Forbes 2018 World’s Best Employers list and this isn’t a fete that comes lightly.

    Respondents in the study were asked to rate their own employer and the likelihood they would recommend the company to a friend or family member. “They were also asked to recommend other employers they admired,” the Forbes’websitereads.

    These 4 factors that Safaricom has paid attention, has led the organization to aspire to cultivate a psychologically healthier environment, happier employees, and, ultimately, a healthier bottom line.

    A Healthy work-life balance

    One of the biggest reasons for instability is that leaders don’t integrate a work-life balance in their systems. Some of the ways Safaricom ensures their staff enjoy sustainable work-life balance include: The management has empowered the managers to allow staff members do have very flexible hours at work and employees can work from home with good reasons.

    For the mothers, Safaricom has a maternity policy of up to 4 fully paid months and upon return to work, the employee can work for 6 hours per day for 6 months. Crèche facilities, in-house clinics and fully equipped lactating mother rooms are also present at the work place.

    They also have gym facilities at the work place which has led to high productivity

    Open systems

    They also have open systems where employees who feel vulnerable and anxious can speak their minds. They have a toll free number which is reachable 24 hours. Their staff members and their dependants are encouraged to call the number when they face psychological challenges to speak to professional counselors.

    Peer counselors also are their first point of contact and they have a Sema na CEO forum where staff chat directly with CEO for both personal and work related matters.

    Mental Health In The Workplace - Are We Headed In The Right Direction?Availability of mental health and stress management resources

    Spotting the signs and triggers of mental health conditions is one of the signs where employers and leaders fail. Most managers don’t know that their staff struggle with mental health issues and most work places lack adequate resources to address their mental health and stress management needs. Safaricom has facilitated the training of peer counselors across the business totaling to 475 staff members who are able to identify staff members facing personal challenges and link them up to where to get help. They also have a company heath advisor also plays a big role by ensuring staff wellbeing matters are urgently without delay.

    Wellness programs and policies

    They also promote a culture where staff and employers can discuss mental health. Their Company Health Advisor usually meet different teams during their departmental meetings and talk about mental health matters openly across the business.

    Mental Health In The Workplace - Are We Headed In The Right Direction?Managers and Peer counselors have been empowered on how to recognize signs of mental illness. They also have policies in place that give proper guidance – Employee Assistance Program, Medical Scheme and Group life & WIBA/GPA that has significantly impacted the work environment.

    One of the most powerful things an employer can do is place their employees in positions that enable them to use and develop their strengths. Building employees’ strengths is a far more effective approach than looking at deficits. If you want a loyal and happy workforce, you have to create a workplace that enables them to be the best they can be, just ask Safaricom.


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