While physical welfare and safety in the workplace is a leading interest and concern, the connection between the environment and mental and emotional wellbeing is equally important but often overlooked. It is easy to recognize how a workplace safety incident can have serious physical impact on an employee who experiences an injury. However, the mental and emotional impact of experiencing a safety incident or working in an unsafe environment can extend beyond a single employee or the time it takes to recover from a physical injury.
In 2022, the National Safety Council (NSC) polled over 1,000 workers between age 20 and 65 and asked them about their work environment, mental health, and their feelings about safety at work in general. The results revealed a strong correlation between feelings of depression and anxiety and how safe the respondents felt at work. Findings of the survey can be summarized in three categories:
- Employees who feel unsafe at work are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The NSC survey revealed that people who feel unsafe at work are nearly three times more likely to experience depressive symptoms than people who feel safe at work. What’s more, these individuals are more than twice as likely to report symptoms of anxiety compared to individuals who feel safe at work.
- Employees who feel the most unsafe at work are also the most likely to meet the criteria for clinical diagnosis of mental illness.
When employees feel unsafe at work, it can begin to take a toll on their mental health. If left unchecked, these feelings can manifest into something more serious. According to NSC, 40% of people who say they feel “very” unsafe at work have symptoms of depression all or most of the time, while only 1% of those who feel very safe at work have those symptoms. Likewise, 25% of people who report feeling "very" unsafe at work also report experiencing anxiety symptoms all or most days. Only 2% of people who say they feel very safe experience the same.
- Feeling unsafe at work impacts employees on and off the clock.
Just like physical illness, symptoms of depression and anxiety that stem from feeling unsafe at work can spread into workers’ personal lives. They might come home feeling completely drained and dread going to work the next day. Friends and family members may also notice changes in the person’s mood, appetite, or sleeping habits. These symptoms can make it difficult to go about their daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, and caregiving. Worryingly, depression and anxiety may continue long after the initial trigger is gone. This means that even if a worker quits their job or transfers to another facility, they may continue to suffer the ill effects of feeling unsafe at work.
The physical safety of the workplace is not the only factor but can be a key contributor. Both the content and context of work can play a role in the development of mental distress and illness. Key factors include:
- Workload (both excessive and insufficient work)
- Lack of participation and control in the workplace
- Monotonous or unpleasant tasks
- Role ambiguity or conflict
- Lack of recognition at work
- Poor interpersonal relationships
- Poor working conditions
- Poor leadership and communication
- Conflicting home and work demands
- Uncomfortable physical working conditions (extreme temperatures, lack of ergonomic best practices, poor scheduling, infrequent breaks)
- Fatigue at work (caused by long-term or chronic stress, poor working conditions, personal reasons; can also be a symptom of mental distress and varying mental illnesses)
Connect with Resources
E(F)AP resources and assistance are available to U.S. and Canadian Mauser Packaging Solutions employees and members of their household through our benefit programs.*
In the U.S.: THE HARTFORD: GuidanceResources® - Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
In addition to online information and resources, this service includes up to five face-to-face counseling sessions per occurrence. This means you and your household members won’t have to share visits. You can each get counseling help for your unique needs. Counseling for legal, financial, medical and benefits-related concerns is also available by phone.
Call 24/7/365: 1-800-327-1850 or visit www.guidanceresources.com
(Web ID: HLF902 and Company: MAUSE)
Canada: Manulife – Homewood Health/Santé: Resilience® Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
EFAP provides support for you and your family when you need it, in a way that works best for you. Support services available include counselling, online services, lifestyle and specialty coaching, depression care and trauma care.
Call 24/7/365: 1-866-644-0326 or visit www.manulife.ca/groupbenefits
*Resources and assistance available regardless of enrollment in healthcare benefits.
Note: Similar programs may be offered in other countries through Company provided offerings or government healthcare systems. Check with your local Human Resources representative for available resources.