Go Upstream to Helping People & Organizations Truly Thrive
It is great reading about how organizations like the National University Health System (NUHS) are starting to enhance the mental well-being and resilience of its staff. I have had the privilege to contribute a letter to the Straits Times Forum and it was published both online and in the print edition (see right).
Due to space constraints, the letter was edited. Do read the letter in full below calling for more upstream effort to help people and organizations truly thrive.
They say that an organization is as healthy as its people. Amidst mental well-being and burnout being in the spotlight in recent months, it is indeed encouraging to know that organizations such as the National University Health System (NUHS) are looking into the mental well-being of its employees.
The issue of burnout is becoming an irrefutable reality of modern-day working life. The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) describes stress as a “silent killer” while the World Health Organization recently recognizes burnout as an occupational phenomenon in their International Classification of Diseases. Back here at home, Singapore recently ranks 32 out of 40 for work-life balance and 2nd in terms of work intensity.
Having experienced and overcome burnout myself for at least 3 times, I have come to learn many valuable life lessons and grow from each episode. I realized how burnout is hardly a work issue; it affects the worker’s physical and mental health, family, relationships and employability. Burnout could happen to the most well-intentioned and even the top-performing employees of an organization. This explains why I am on the social mission to build mental resilience at both work and personal levels. I believe that we can indeed help people thrive at work and organizations can avoid the brain drain of losing our workers who passionately performing at work.
In addition, dealing with burnout could also help prevent mental health challenges. Research has shown how burnout could also lead to depression and many other mental health conditions. Thus, as a nation, we can definitely reduce the incidence of our people experiencing mental health challenges (currently 1 in 7, according to the Singapore’s Second Mental Health Study) as we start paying attention to helping people thrive at work.
Since we spend a large part of our waking hours at work, work mental well-being intervention programmes, such as the one being implemented by NUHS, makes great sense to begin to stop burnout and its effects on our working and person lives.
This being said, we can still do more than the occasional mental well-being talks and programmes. What would be helpful, for example, could be going further upstream to have mental well-being addressed, for example, when a new employee joins a company or as students prepare to enter the workforce. In fact, I strongly believe that mental resilience not only equips our young for the workforce, it also equips them to handle stress while studying and also subsequently in navigating life. Individual resilience together with employers’ emphasis to build mental resilient workplaces would prove to be the game-changer.
I do applaud employers who are making the effort to build mental resilience, both at the individual’s level and at the organizational level. Because as they say, an organization is as healthy as its people. I look forward to seeing individuals, organizations and our community thriving.
James Lim (Mr)
Lead Thrive-Synergist & Founder, Emmaus Strategies LLP
Do also help yourself to the resources we have on the Emmaus website and/or attend any of our events. We are also always open to having conversations on how we can partner organizations to enhance mental well-being at work.
James is the Lead Thrive-Synergist & Founder of Emmaus Strategies; a social enterprise that “fuels good”. It does this through Mental Well-Being programmes for individuals and organizations, as well as Strategic Volunteer Partnerships consultancy and training for non-profits.