[Forbes, Getty Images]
You might be working from home (WFH), but your work culture has fingers that extend beyond the traditional office and affect you even when working remote. A survey by Mental Health Index published this month shows that the risk for depression among U.S. workers has risen an alarming 102% since February of this year. The escalating threat of developing depressive mood disorder shows little sign of abating, according to the study. Between June and July, the risk of depression climbed a staggering 31%.
Many of us at one time or another have been ambushed by a mental health challenge that swipes us off our feet, taking us out of commission at work for a while: a break-up, a child acting out who needs special attention, a serious health crisis, death of a loved one or just plain old job stress, depression and anxiety. And COVID-19 has exacerbated the threat for everyone. But the degree of higher-up sensitivity to your mental health is a key factor that determines whether you have a supportive and compassionate work culture in the traditional office or at home.
Do You Work In A Culture Of Sacrifice?
Some experts advise that when you have a mental health challenge you should conceal it from your employer because it could cost you your job. Those fear-based companies, known as “cultures of sacrifice,” look for ways to get a greater bang for their buck, putting profit over employee welfare. They want to make sure every dollar spent contributes to the organization’s growth, sacrificing the mental health of the employees. They operate from top to bottom through a structure that strips management layers in order to remain competitive, employing four people to do the work of five.
Excessive corporate demand, combined with wireless technology, risks company exploitation of employees who fear they must be available 24/7. Some organizations set tight deadlines, make unreasonable demands or heighten the pace expecting employees to change tires going eighty miles an hour. Others create a climate of threat, hinting at nonexistent competitors, telling workers that clients are dissatisfied and their jobs are in jeopardy even when they are not. These corporate tactics create paranoia, stress and burnout among the workforce; employees never know for sure which crises are real and which are fabrications. In cultures of sacrifice, corporate survival reigns supreme, and the company is prepared to sacrifice excellent employees at any cost.
How Toxic Is Your Remote Work Culture?
Do you toil in a fear-based culture that promotes profit over well-being—that treats you as a commodity and turns a deaf ear to stress, burnout and mental health problems? Or are you fortunate enough to work in an organization that considers human factors, nurtures its employees and encourages you to thrive? Grade your work culture to see how it rates by answering yes or no to the following questions:
___1. Is your job rapid paced with little time to have casual conversations with coworkers or managers?
___2. Does your work culture feel cold, sterile or devoid of human concern?
___3. Does your job thrive on crisis, chaos and urgency without consideration for employee feelings or personal lives?
___4. Do you work for a company that emphasizes production, workload and profit above the welfare and mental wellness of its employees?
___5. Does success in your company hinge on over-scheduling, over-committing and overtime on weekdays, weekends or holidays?
___6. Is your employer intolerant of even the most minor employee mistakes?
___7. Are you constantly worrying, racing against the clock due to job pressures?
___8. Is it necessary to juggle many tasks or projects at one time to keep up in your job?
___9. Does your company put you under the gun with unreasonable demands or short notice of high-pressure deadlines?
___10. Have you had any stress-related illnesses because of your current job?
___11. Do you work in an atmosphere that puts the welfare of its employees above profit and production?
___12. Does your company show compassion toward employees who have concerns about family and personal time or who experience stress and burnout?
___13. Is the tone of your job culture relaxing, evenly paced, warm and friendly?
___14. Do you feel like a human being more often than a commodity on your job?
___15. Can you limit your workload and protect weekends and holidays for yourself and loved ones?
___16. Do you think your employer has a long-term, vested interest in you as a human being versus a short-term interest on what you can produce?
___17. Does your company promote celebrations—such as birthdays and holidays—or other socializing as an integral part of the work schedule?
___18. Do you work with colleagues who are cooperative, caring and supportive and with whom you have open communication?
___19. If you have a mental health problem can you talk with someone on site who will listen and offer support?
___20. Does your position give you personal satisfaction, meaning and purpose and allow you to thrive?
Calculate Your Score
Start with 60 points. Subtract 2 points for each yes answer to questions 1 through 10. Add 2 points for each no answer to questions 1 through 10. Subtract 2 points for each no answer to questions 11 through 20. Add 2 points for each yes answer to questions 11 through 20.
Your Job’s Report Card
0-59: F/Poor. Consider a mentally healthier job. You might already have signs of stress or burnout or other physical symptoms that lead to mental health issues.
60-69: D/Below average
90-100: A/Excellent. Stay put. Your company is there for you. You’ve hit the jackpot of a mentally well, thriving work culture.
How To Get Back On Track If Your Job Got A Failing Grade
Whether you’re an employer determined to create a mentally healthy work culture or an employee dead set on finding one, the beginning point is a job where employees feel valued and supported. A mentally healthy work culture is a positive one where your employer shows respect for your personal life—one where your boss has an awareness of and promotes the importance of mental health wellness, and you feel comfortable discussing mental health concerns without fear of discrimination or stigma.
If you graded your job below 70 and want a less toxic position, you might consider searching for a productive, considerate and safe atmosphere. Look for an organization with an energetic and productive workforce that encourages open communication and an environment where you feel respected, supported and rewarded for your hard-earned efforts.
By Bryan Robinson