5 signs of poor mental health at work

A quick summary:

  • Increased stress and anxiety ❌
  • Removal from social situations ❌
  • Regular and increased absences ❌
  • Unsatisfied with personal achievements ❌
  • Lower levels of productivity ❌

As the world emerges from a couple of tough years, health and wellbeing have become a priority for many of us. Uncertainty has loomed large in the form of a global pandemic, a war in Europe and now the possibility of a recession in the UK.

Now, more than ever, employees must support mental health at work. It’s no secret that stress and anxiety are high. To give leaders a better chance at identifying poor mental health in the workplace, we’re looking at five different signs. 

Spotted early, employers can help improve their team’s wellbeing. That said, if poor mental health at work is ignored, organisations should expect lower productivity, more absences and worst of all, employees that leave.

Let's dive into five signs of poor mental health you should look out for as a leader. Identifying these signs early means you can create a healthier, happier workforce and environment.

Three female employees sat at a desk
Increased stress and anxiety at work

Increased stress and anxiety

One of the biggest signs of poor mental health at work is increased stress and anxiety. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to study your employees' attitudes, emotional wellbeing and overall happiness. 

If you've noticed heightened stress in your team, it’s time to have a conversation about how to best support your employees. Ignoring issues of stress and anxiety will have devastating consequences for both employees and the business.

Organise a one-to-one to discuss how whether employees feel under pressure, and how best to support their mental health. By developing your listening skills and really focusing on how to provide a solution, employees will appreciate your effort and work with you. 

Removal from social situations, including team days

Social situations, including team-building days, are a good indicator of unhappy employees. While it doesn’t necessarily mean they are suffering from poor mental health at work, it could highlight their dissatisfaction with their job. 

As we’ve discussed previously, it’s worth being honest and open with your employees; finding out why exactly they can’t make team days or the reasons they’ve withdrawn from social situations. 

Some of these occurrences happen when employees choose to work alone despite a collaborative environment, choose to spend their lunch alone or generally don’t talk with their colleagues. 

Great leaders mustn’t mistake introverted and shy employees though. That’s why open communication and good observation is key in this instance. 

Similar read: What is ‘leavism’ and does it impact my employees?

Regular and increased absences

Next up, let’s discuss absences. Generally, absences are unavoidable – as employees, we need time off for a range of reasons. That said, if you notice an increase in absences among certain employees, it could be a sign of poor mental health at work. 

With the UK suffering from around 32.5M lost days due to work-related ill health, it’s important leaders acknowledge absences as a strong sign of poor health and wellbeing. Although it’s good practice not to question employees, consider discussing their general health and wellbeing whilst at work

You may find that employees are avoiding particular situations in the workplace which impact their mental health. These could be projects they are involved in, other colleagues they work with and many other possibilities. 

While we’re on the topic, why not find out more?

Female employee sat at desk next to two colleagues
Unsatisfied with achievements at work

Unsatisfied with personal achievements

Personal achievements are what keep us going. Whether we’re trying to work harder at the gym or our office desk, we must regularly achieve to feel motivated. Unfortunately, employees who suffer from poor mental health at work do not feel the same way about achievements. 

We can often feel lost, questioning whether what we’re doing is worthwhile or meaningful. And that is exactly why personal achievements can appear less of an achievement. 

It’s the role of a leader to help motivate employees through regular rewards and recognition. This reinforces the fact that we should celebrate achievements. 

It’s also worth finding out why certain employees feel negative about their achievements. That way, leaders can set KPIs that will inspire employees to achieve more.

Lower levels of productivity

Productivity affects how well we perform in our day-to-day roles. We need to feel productive to make progress, essentially. When employees are dealing with poor mental health at work, it may be obvious in their productivity levels.

When you examine your employees’ productivity levels, look for sudden drops. Our productivity is based on several factors and influences. It’s not always the case of poor mental health, but perhaps something else – so it’s sensible not to jump to conclusions. 

That said, employers should look for huge exceptions, with productivity hitting rock bottom in some of the best-performing employees. Like most signs in this list, it’s worth sitting down and discussing how you can make the lives of your employees easier.

A female employee working at a desk
How can Heka help your workforce

How can Heka help with mental health at work

Heka is an employee wellbeing platform offering access to more than 2,000 experiences, products and services. It’s through Heka that hundreds of employees are able to take back control over their personal health and wellbeing. 

Whether it’s bouldering, counselling, learning and development or vitamin subscriptions, Heka has your team covered. If you’d like to find out more, book a demo with our experts today.