According to the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work (2021-2027), before the pandemic, mental health problems affected about 84 million people in the EU. About 50% of EU workers consider stress to be common in their workplace and to constitute the reason behind half of all lost working days; in parallel, nearly 80% of managers are concerned about work-related stress. This data corresponds to the findings presented in the consolidated report developed within the framework of the THRIVE@WORK project; indeed, all partners reported a high incidence of wellbeing-related issues experienced by employees including stress, burnout, fatigue, anxiety and even depression.
In light of this, promoting and protecting employees’ wellbeing in the workplace is important for every organization. There are many factors that influence employees’ health and wellbeing, as well as factors that can protect their health and wellbeing. A plethora of studies (e.g., Bonde, 2008, Netterstrom et al., 2008) have indicated that psychosocial factors in the workplace such as mental workload, can increase the risk of depressive symptoms amongst employees. The Whitehall II longitudinal study conducted in the UK (Stansfeld et al., 1999) has contributed to our understanding of the importance of psychosocial factors in employee wellbeing. Specifically, in this study, work demands (e.g., increased workload) were found to increase the risk of psychiatric disorders, whilst social support and decision authority reduced this risk.
Understanding and overcoming these issues that interfere with employees’ wellbeing can result in a range of benefits for both individuals and businesses. Psychosocial wellbeing is relevant for all employees as every member of staff can play a part in improving wellbeing in the workplace. By addressing psychosocial wellbeing issues, employees can experience positive emotions such as happiness and satisfaction and be able to develop and maintain meaningful relationships with others and fulfil his/her need for belongingness. Similarly, this will lead to reduced absenteeism, lower staff turnover, increased productivity, and help organizations promote a positive organizational culture.
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