How to Overcome Workplace Mental Health Challenges for Auto Workers' Wellbeing
While the automotive and manufacturing industry has staggeringly changed our lifestyle today, the fact that automotive workers are burned out and stressed cannot remain hidden. A particularly male-dominant field, the automotive sector is in serious need of taming stress.
The COVID-19 pandemic aggravated psychological stress and further deteriorated mental health. According to a study, 22.5 percent of engineers accepted that they have thought about suicide or self-harm. Higher stress levels among automobile workers are not surprising and prevailed even before the pandemic. But today, their mental wellbeing is in dire straits.
How the global economic crisis has impacted automobile workers' mental wellbeing
Economic stability and mental health are undoubtedly co-related. Numerous studies have found the role earning a sustainable sum of money plays on one's wellbeing. On the other hand, financial problems lead to turmoil on an individual and social level. People feel emotionally burdened and resort to drinking alcohol or start having suicidal thoughts, while on a societal level, crimes increase.
Speaking of workers in the automotive industry, in which 5 percent of the global labor force is directly or indirectly employed, the global economic crisis had the most devastating effect. In a study conducted to analyze the 2008-2009 global economic recession on the health of unemployed blue-collar autoworkers in Canada, stress, anxiety, and depression were highest among this group.
Today, the world is feared to be heading into another global economic recession. Soaring inflation, war, natural disasters, and the pandemic, which is not yet over, could potentially lead to severe financial distress in the near future.
Many studies have proven that increased financial burden not only deteriorates one's social status but has grave implications on one's mental wellbeing. Stress, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, anger, and domestic violence are some outcomes of financial strain that corrodes a healthy society.
Psychological violence in the disguise of mobbing takes a heavy toll on autoworkers' wellbeing
Mobbing, in layman's language bullying, has become a common workplace practice. Based on age, gender, hierarchy, or any other similar trait or aspect, employees can become victims of mobbing at their workplace.
Mobbing often goes unrecognized as it is not physical violence that one can feel and respond to immediately. Today, experts have brought mobbing to the agenda of workplace wellbeing. Calling it a form of psychological violence, experts believe mobbing needs to be addressed at workplaces and completely eradicated to ensure employee wellbeing.
Threats, harassment, work and career-related barriers, and prying into one's private life are higher among automotive workers exposed to mobbing than those who are not, revealed a 2021 study. The burnout levels were much higher than those employees not exposed to mobbing in the automotive sector.
The automotive industry is a challenging field, no doubt. The industry is demanding and requires a lot of physical and mental strength to match the speed and competition in the market. The stress and workload levels in the industry, which strain one physically and mentally, are higher than in any other field.
Ben, a U.K.-based non-profit organization, revealed in its study that one in two motor workers has poor mental health. It also brought to attention that 25 percent of automotive businesses have reported the inability of their employees to work due to poor mental health. Another revelation Ben made was that a whopping 64 percent of employees' wellbeing was affected due to poor sleep, which led to increased anxiety and depression.
Ways to overcome workplace mental health challenges
- Need to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health:
The automotive industry is predominantly a male field. There is a stigma in society that talking about mental health or sharing problems makes one less manly or a sign of weakness. About 21 percent of men working in the sector believe people will start treating them differently if they share their mental health problems.
As automotive workers find it difficult to accept they are dealing with mental health issues or accept it, they are prone to suicidal thoughts and anxiety the most.
People professionals working in the automotive sector need to take steps to help employees to open up. Studies show that one of the ways to get rid of stigmas associated with mental health is to talk openly about it.
- Better support mechanism:
A study revealed that 43 percent dealing with poor mental health disclosed their problems to their manager. This sheds light on the need to train employers in mental health. Nearly half of those employees never took time off to address mental health concerns, while 95 percent admitted having suffered concentration problems at work. Around 26 percent of employees who had no idea of any support their employer could provide highlighted the need for better support mechanisms at the workplace.
- A wellbeing program to increase employee productivity:
The automotive industry is a crucial sector through which nations earn the maximum revenue. Indeed working in the automotive and manufacturing sector is not easy, as workload, pressure, and competition are sky-high.
Automotive businesses are in dire need of more than ever to invest in wellbeing programs at their workplaces. In fact, workplace wellbeing programs have considerably shown their effectiveness in increasing employee productivity, engagement, and retention. A featured article in Forbes explained that robust investment in workforce health and wellbeing was one of the practices pursued by high-performing companies.
A wellbeing program tailored to your business is the need of the hour today.