Promoting Emotional Fitness by Instilling Organizational Purpose in the Workplace

DMEC Staff@Work

Promoting Emotional Fitness by Instilling Organizational Purpose in the Workplace

By Suzanne Clausen, MS LPC

Consultant Health Transformation
Aon

Purpose in life has emerged as an important concept in the workplace, with employers focused on applying this in areas of recruiting and retaining talent, and engagement.

Recent research has shown that employees who are purpose-driven have better performance, improved leadership skills, more growth, and more promotions.1 Another study found that Americans are willing to forego up to 21% of their salary to find a job that is always meaningful.2 Given the positive outcomes associated with purpose, the inverse may also be true; a lack of purpose at work can be associated with weaker engagement, decreased employee loyalty, and, more importantly, increased stress and burnout.

Consider this common scenario. An employee is burned out at work and is stressed, exhausted, and disconnected. Upon reporting these feelings to a primary care physician, the employee is given a patient health questionnaire; the employee identifies as not sleeping well, feeling depressed, having trouble concentrating, and feeling tired. This may warrant diagnosis and treatment for depression, including prescription medication, referral to counseling, and a possible recommendation of time off work.

The employee is now trying to cope with being newly diagnosed with a mental illness, financial concerns with potential reduced pay while off work, and worries about stigma and discrimination at work. Meanwhile, the employer is faced with increased healthcare costs, lost time at work, and strains on teams.

Benefits professionals are well aware of the complexities of mental health disability claims, which have an average cost of $6,032, second only to cancer.3 A majority of mental health claims are for depression or anxiety-related disorders.4 Depression is ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the single largest contributor to global disability. It’s also a major contributor to the nearly 800,000 annual suicide deaths.5

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