The United Nation’s Human Resources chief has told Emerg-in.co.uk that mental welfare in the workplace cannot be considered to be a bonus but a right.
Speaking in London, Henrietta Maria De Beer, (pic) Chief of the UN’s Human Resources Policies Division said: “Thankfully we are seeing an increased awareness around mental health in the workplace.”
She made her comments as the Insurance industry’s Dive In festival began in cities around the globe.
“We need to get the message across that the priority is the wellbeing of staff. This cannot be seen as a strategic decision; it is a duty of care for firms across the world.”
Ms De Beer added: “Much is said about the resilience of companies and this is a case of the resilience of the staff and their ability to say they are feeling stressed or depressed.
“The key to this is the attitude and the culture of the company. We all have the right to a positive work climate. Staff should be able to see there are opportunities for succession and progression, and a system where there is a recognition of achievement.”
She added that wellbeing required a culture in which poor behaviour was adequately and effectively addressed . “We want to see a zero tolerance approach to harassment and inequality in the workplace .”
Ms De Beer told Emerg-in.co.uk that companies and their employers are now aware of the changing expectations for working lives and careers.
“We need to ensure that there is a sense of belonging,” she explained. “It is no longer a case of a job for life. Therefore there needs to be a sense of belonging to a company that will create an environment of wellbeing.
“The UN Secretary General has said that in order to deliver the UN’s aims we need a stress free workplace.”
However, Ms De Beer said that the stigma attached to mental health issues is still evident.
“We are still seeing employees using physical illness as an excuse for absence rather than citing mental health or stress,” she added. “It is still a stigma. Stress is still seen as a weakness.”
However she said there had been progress.
“Managers are becoming more aware of the linkage between the wellness of staff and productivity and how better care of staff can deliver better results.”