How Mental Health Affects a Person’s Job Performance

Blog / How Mental Health Affects a Person’s Job Performance

And Why Your Company Needs to Focus on Cultural Fit to Improve Workplace Mental Health

Mental health isn’t just some buzzword phrase. Increasing attention is being paid to mental health for good reason.

This increased attention started before the pandemic but has only increased since as many people struggled with the feelings of depression and isolation caused by quickly changing the work environment from something collaborative to working from home in a physically isolated way. 

By the Numbers

In a recent Pew Research Center survey, more than one-third of Americans displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the coronavirus pandemic began. And demographics play a strong role as well, with younger workers and underrepresented groups struggling the most. 

What is even worse is that the same Pew survey found that only half of employees felt comfortable discussing mental health issues. This is despite the fact that over 90% of respondents to another survey believed that a company’s culture should support mental health. 

The Work Connection

So what about this work connection? What is so striking is the effect poor mental health has on employee performance. According to the CDC, poor mental health can negatively affect:

  • Job performance and productivity
  • Engagement with one’s work
  • Communication with coworkers
  • Physical capability and daily functioning

The connection between mental health and job performance really isn’t hard to make. When we are stressed, it’s hard for us to focus and our mental acuity decreases, good communication becomes harder and feelings of depression can lead to social isolation. And when we are chronically stressed, it can begin to affect our physical health, leading to higher absenteeism at work, exhaustion and burnout. And eventually this could lead to turnover. 

Happiness is Contagious

They say happiness is contagious, but so is sadness and stress. People can pick up on what their coworkers are feeling. And if they are seeing high turnover due to stress and mental health issues, it can further bring down the morale of your employees. 

Mental health challenges aren’t experienced in isolation, meaning employers and the workplace play a role–both good and bad. 

Connecting the Dots

Your workplace culture plays a huge role in the mental health of your employees. And it’s not just because scientists found that happiness (more specifically smiling) is contagious even at work. The numbers connect the dots for us, with 81% of employees reporting that a poor cultural fit at work had a negative impact on their wellbeing and another 78% saying it affected their motivation on the job. Employees also reported negative impacts on creativity and productivity due to a poor cultural fit with their company.

What Can Employers Do?

So if you don’t want unhappy employees, poor work quality, uninspired ideas, and high turnover, what do you do? There are two things that employers need to do. The first is to reevaluate their workplace culture. You may have your values stated in company literature and on your website, but does your actual workplace culture reflect those values? 

Improving the actual workplace culture begins with being clear about those values in everything that your company does and must come from the top down. If you want to dive deeper into creating a strong company culture, be sure to check out this article

The second thing that you need to do is to hire the right people. Easier said than done, I know. But hiring for cultural fit is one of the biggest things you can do to help create a strong company culture and have happier employees. Don’t just focus on skills and education, thinking that a person can change everything else about them to fit in at work. We all know that never happens. So stop expecting it to! 

Just as employees reported a poor cultural fit having a negative impact on their mental health, productivity, creativity and motivation, they also reported that a good cultural fit can have a positive impact on those same factors. 

So what are you waiting for? Start focusing on cultural fit today and you’ll start to see big improvements in your employees’ moods and their work product. Not to mention that you’ll also see less turnover. And that is something we can all be grateful for.