Workplace Psychological Injury: Causes and How to Avoid It
Psychological injuries are a growing concern for employers. Providing a healthy workplace that keeps stress to a minimum should be the aim of all organisations. Being aware of the causes of psychological injury is the first step to avoiding them. The cost of psychological injuries can be high both with lost time & productivity and the risk of workers compensation claims.
What Is Psychological Injury and What Does It Mean?
A psychological injury is a mental or emotional condition that has an influence on a person’s life, influencing how they think, feel, and act. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety are examples of psychological injuries, often known as mental injuries.
Environmental, organisational, and individual factors can all contribute to workplace psychological injury. Unsafe noise levels, equipment, and accidents are all part of the environment.
Poor levels of support from superiors, continuous change, and high levels of stress are all examples of organisational causes. Individual characteristics, such as personality and prior experiences, influence whether or not a person may develop a psychological damage. Poor psychological safety is estimated to cost companies billions each year, according to research.
What is a Secondary Psychological Injury, and how does it happen?
A secondary psychological damage is one that is produced by an initial psychological harm. Following a physical injury, an employee may have secondary issues such as despair, melancholy, irritability, insomnia, and decreased motivation and engagement. Continuous pain, medicine, and isolation from friends and coworkers can exacerbate the psychological harm.
Psychological Injury: Examples and Causes
The following are five frequent sources of work-related stress that lead to worker psychological ailments.
#1 Job Insecurity
Employees can be emotionally and physically harmed by the prospect of organisational restructures, mergers, and redundancies. Chronic employment uncertainty, according to one research, is a bigger predictor of bad health than smoking or stress-induced hypertension. A rising percentage of the workforce is engaged on a casual or contract basis, with the risk of being fired without notice or pay.
Some people are concerned about how they will find another work or pay their bills if their contract is terminated. They may be curious as to what their boss thinks of their job and whether the company intends to retain them on long-term. This may go on for years, with the constant tension taking a toll on the mind.
Contract workers may be less likely than full-time workers to seek professional psychiatric or psychological care since they may not have the same access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Because they do not have paid leave benefits, some people believe they cannot afford to take time off work.
Everyone has a distinct perspective, and many employees are not at danger of psychological harm as a result of job uncertainty. Some workers are willing to forego job stability in exchange for the additional perks of casual labour, such as better hourly compensation and lower penalty rates. They are certain that they will be able to find another work and will not be harmed financially if their current one ends.
How to Avoid — If you are concerned about job instability, look for something that provides better security than your current position. While there is no such thing as a “job for life,” full-time work may be a better fit for you than part-time work.
#2 Work Overload
When things are tough, employees are urged to accomplish more. When workers leave the company or go on vacation, they are not replaced, leaving the rest of the team to pick up the slack. Extra work can lead to job-related stress, which can lead to poor performance, depression, anxiety, and sleeping issues.
How to Avoid — If you’re having trouble coping with the amount of work you’re required to perform to the point where it’s giving you psychological difficulties, talk to your boss about it or ask a coworker to take on a task you don’t have time for.
#3 Bullying & Harassment
Bullying affects adults in the workplace just as much as it affects children in the classroom. Bullying in the workplace can be verbal, physical, social, or psychological. Bullying can include unpleasant words, exclusion, sexual harassment, mind games, assigning meaningless tasks, initiations, threats, pushing, shoving, and tripping. Bullying may occur in any sort of workplace and can be perpetrated by a manager, a coworker, or a group of individuals.
Bullying may inflict psychological harm, leaving victims agitated, apprehensive, and sad, dreading coming to work, lacking confidence, and dissatisfied with their jobs.
Compensation claims for psychological damage caused by workplace bullying may be expensive for businesses. After a legal fight with his former employer, a Queensland mine worker diagnosed with adjustment disorder, anxiety, and social phobia as a result of claimed workplace bullying was given “significant” damages earlier this year.
How to Avoid Bullying and Harassment – All businesses must provide a safe workplace free of bullying and harassment. If you feel threatened or intimidated, you should report it to your boss so that he or she may take action.
#4 Dealing with Difficult Customers
Even after the matter has been addressed and the irate client has departed, employees who have to deal with tough customers might become agitated. The long-term effects of a worker’s reaction to an occurrence can be substantially more harmful than the incident itself. People may experience dread and tension as a result of their inability to solve the situation and calm the consumer. They’re concerned about how they’ll deal with the next issue.
What causes one person tremendous stress might be a pleasurable component of the job for another, similar to job uncertainty. Difficult customers aren’t a cause of worry for everyone.
Some employees understand that they won’t be able to solve every problem. They recognise that they give it their all at work, and that an unhappy customer is swiftly forgotten. They place a premium on pleasant connections with consumers. What may be harmful to one worker’s mental health may be unimportant to another.
How to Avoid — If dealing with irate or difficult clients makes you uneasy or agitated, ask your boss for training on how to deal with them. Knowing how to manage these circumstances and practising how to handle them might give you the confidence you need to tackle the next one.
#5 Working Shifts
For many years, researchers have investigated the physical effects of night and shift employment. After-hours employment has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer and exhaustion. In recent years, research have focused on the psychological implications of shift work, and the findings reveal that the psychological harm can be just as terrible as the physical health effects.
Shift workers’ circadian rhythms are disrupted, resulting in increased stress and unhappiness. A study of nurses in the United Kingdom found a link between shift work and low job satisfaction. Due to physical and psychological stress symptoms, nurses who performed night shifts reported lower levels of satisfaction.
The burden of neglecting family duties and missing out on social gatherings can add to the stress of shift employment.
How to Avoid — If shift work is stressing you out, talk to your boss about reducing the amount of night shifts you work or switching jobs to one that doesn’t need as much shift work.
When compared to physical injuries, workers frequently take longer to return to work after psychological trauma. When it comes to mental health issues, early intervention is crucial. Two options for lowering the likelihood of a long-term psychological harm are conflict resolution and alternate occupation.