September 2013

Lack of work/life balance; Job insecurity can lead to mental health issues

Job insecurity, abusive supervision, excessive demands, the encroachment of work on family life and domestic relationship problems top the list of factors that contribute to the development of mental health issue among workers.

These findings are the results of the largest research study ever conducted on the subject in Canada. The study was undertaken by researchers at the Université de Montréal, Concordia University and Universite’ Laval.

Researchers focused on a series of factors that may lead to the development of psychological distress, depression and burnout at work.  More than 2,100 employees at 63 companies were interviewed about their personal and professional lives.

Read: Helping employees with role overload

The results of this questionnaire were supported by cortisol measurements.  This research methodology is a first in the field of study of mental health factors in the workplace.  Cortisol is a hormone found in the saliva and recognized as an indicator of an individual’s stress level.

The researchers responsible for the study, professors Alain Marchanc and Pierre Durand of the Université de Montréal School of Industrial Relations, are convinced the impacts of an individual’s personal and work related problems on his or her mental health cannot be considered separately.

“The strength of this research is that it takes a large number of factors into account,” explains Durand. “These include work organization, family and employment relationships, and certain personality traits, such as self-esteem, as well as other potential risk factors, like chronic illness and alcohol misuse.”

Read: A psychologically healthy workplace: Do Something

The study also provided an opportunity to review approximately 65 corporate practices designed to reduce stress and improve employee health.  These practices range from operation a company fitness centre to implementing shorter working hours.

“The good news is that we know it is possible to introduce effective measures to reduce mental health risks,” says Eric Pfeiffer, senior consultant, health and wellness, which helped support the study.  “The results of this study will provide our customers with additional motivation to adopt an integrated prevention approach tailored to their specific business needs.”

The study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de recherche du Quebec  – Sante and conducted over a period of more than four years with 2,162 worker from all sectors. Saliva samples determine cortisol levels were taken from 401 workers and compared to questionnaire results. The saliva samples were taken at five different times of the day on three separate occasions (on two workdays and on one day off).

Read: Mental health an ongoing concern for employers

The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that 21.4% of Canada’s working population suffers from a mental illness that potentially affects his or her productivity at work.

Lost productivity related to absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover costs Canadian companies $6.3 billion each year.

Don’t procrastinate, make mental health for your staff a priority.

excerpts provided by: Benefits Canada June/July 2013

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Blake’s – Pension, Benefits & Executive Compensation August 19,2013

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