Test your knowledge about some of the approaches to workplace mental health issues found within this website.
Computers have revolutionized our work world. Those who work primarily in the high tech industry are faced with the constant need to learn new and complex information, to solve difficult problems and too often work in isolation. When they interact with other workers, it is often at a time of frustration or fear over new or problematic technological issues. There are also those whose work may involve monotonous and repetitive tasks; or prolonged work without human contact. The following issues can be stressors for high technology workers that can lead to an increased risk of mental health issues. The proposed approaches may help reduce this risk.
Issue: In some positions, workers have almost no control over the job or the ability to make decisions.
Proposed approach: Identify situations where workers can make decisions and empower them to do so. It can be identifying areas for improvement, interacting with other workers to solve challenges, or even helping determine the best environment including lighting, sound and positioning of equipment.
Issue: Unrealistic performance expectations exacerbated by poor relations with supervisor.
Proposed approach: Suggest that the manager and employee set performance targets together and arrange to review targets on a regular basis. See Performance Management for other tips.
Issue: Uncomfortable work station.
Proposed approach: Provide a chair and worktable that enable the worker to be comfortable and productive. Where possible, allow the operator to determine the lighting, sound and other factors that impact their work environment.
Issue: Computer and other equipment are unreliable.
Proposed approach: Regular failure of equipment can result in a high level of frustration and loss of productivity. Listen to operators' complaints about equipment that breaks down frequently and where possible, respond to their concerns promptly.
Issue: Tasks are repetitive and monotonous.
Proposed approach: Where possible look at rotating or varying tasks or allowing operators some flexibility in making tasks less monotonous (e.g. in safe situations consider permitting use of personal music device).
Smith, M.J. (1997). Psychosocial aspects of working with video display terminals (VDTs) and employee physical and mental health. Ergonomics, 40 (10), 1002-1015.