Categorized | Health

Work-related stress costs South Africa R40bn annually

Burnout is responsible for a loss of earnings estimated at R40,6bn, equalling 2,2% of the country’s annual GDP, and usually can be attributed to corporate structures and culture that are not conducive to reducing stress or supporting mental wellbeing.

More than 40% of all work-related illness is due to stress and major depression, burnout and anxiety disorders, says Dr Renata Schoeman, board member of the Psychiatry Management Group (PsychMG).

“Burnout leads to feelings of failure, being worn-out, poor performance and reduced personal accomplishments. The condition is a direct result of unclear job expectations, poor job fit, dysfunctional workplace dynamics, lack of control and a work-life imbalance.”

“Employees at risk face, if left untreated, hospitalisation for cardiovascular and mental health disorders, ischaemic heart disease, substance abuse, suicide, anxiety, depression and insomnia amongst other. These are serious consequences for a company’s overall turn-over, success and above all, detrimental to the employee’s overall wellbeing and healthy state of mind.”

Schoeman says that employees are accountable to ensure a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate sleep, daily exercise, embracing an attitude of life-long learning, follow a healthy eating plan, and limit the use of alcohol, increase social activity and being more mindful.

“Mental health awareness in the work place will ensure early identification and treatment of disorders, prevent recurrence and long-term complications. By implementing employee assistance programmes the quality of life of employees and the longevity of the company will see a lesser loss to the country’s GDP and prevent disorders turning into permanent disability.” She urges companies to realise the significance their company structure, expectations of employees and management style has not only on the company’s annual turnover and overall productivity, but the risk of employees developing health problems that could prevent them temporarily or permanently re-entering the workforce.

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