Methods & Results: Mental Health in the Workplace

Companion to Literature Review: Mental Health in the Workplace. Originally published by Misty Smith for PSY444 at Southern New Hampshire University.

Methods & Results

Method

Participants

The participants of the study were broken down into four groups from two companies. Both Company A and Company B were in the manufacturing sector and produced similar products for the automobile industry. The location of the companies was in a small town in the Southeastern section of the United States, population 1,268. First, at Company A, management and human resource personnel were selected on a volunteer basis and consisted of 14 individuals (5 men, 9 women, Mage= 35, age range: 26-54, Mlength=10 years, length of employment range: 1-25 years ). A mixture of 26 newly hired general labor (15 women, 11 men, Mage = 27 years, age range: 18-52 years) and 26 veteran general labor employees (17 men, 9 women, Mage =29, age range 21-49) were selected via a volunteer signup through the human resource department of Company A, who employees a total of 162 full-time employees. Length of employment requirements for newly hired participants was set at 90 days or less (Mlength= 45.5 days, length of employment range 14-90 days). Length of employment requirements for veteran employees was set at 3 or more years (Mlength= 6.5, length of employment range; 3-31 years). A comparison group of individuals from Company B was recruited using the same volunteer signup method, Company B employed a total of 159 full-time employees at the time of the study. Company B management and human resource personal was also selected on a volunteer basis and consisted of 12 individuals (6 men, 6 women, Mage=36, age range: 25-50, Mlength=12 years, length of employment range: 2-20 years). Newly hired participants from Company B also included 26 individuals from the general labor employee base (12 women, 14 men, Mage=28, age range: 18-49 years) and 26 veteran general labor employees (14 women, 15 men, Mage=32 years, age range: 21-64 years). Company B participants were given the same employment length provisions of 90 days maximum (Mlength=31.5 days, length of employment range: 15-90 days) and 3 years minimum (Mlength=10.5 years, length of employment range: 3-41 years).

Participants were not given any compensation for their voluntary participation in the study.  Furthermore, study participants were informed that their participation would have no effect on their work positions as the study would be designed to prevent their identity from being known when the results were listed. For example, results would reference employees in such a manner as to not disclose their personal information (Employee X: Company A). Participants were given directions on how to follow the results via the internet as the study was set to take 4 years to complete.

Materials and Procedure

Custom surveys conducted in an interview setting with participants were used to collect data for the study. During the initial phase of the study, the general labor participants from each company were given a three-part survey to complete. Survey section one consisted of 6 questions designed to gauge if the participant had been diagnosed with a mental illness (depression, anxiety, personality disorder, autism spectrum, other) before becoming an employee. For example, if the participant selected that they had a prior diagnosis, they were then asked if they had received and completed mental health treatment.  Survey section two was designed to detail the hiring process and ongoing employment status in relation to mental illness and consisted of 4 questions. In the second section, participants were asked questions such as if they had experienced mental health issues, and if the were aware of mental health benefit packages offered by Company ‘X’. Finally, in section three of the initial survey, employees were asked 6 questions pertaining to how management handled instances of mental health in relation to employees and if they felt as if they could use any benefits without negative consequences. Also during the initial study phase management and human resource participants were given a survey to complete in an interview setting. The survey was one part and consisted of 8 questions that covered both personal mental health issues, the hiring process of potential employees who had suffered from mental illnesses and training of management geared at mental health needs.

The second part of the study was completed four years after the initial surveys. During the four-year span, Company A had completed an upgrade of their mental health benefit packages, prevention methods, and training procedures based upon recommendations set by McCague Borlack LLC (Gowan & Robbins, 2012), whereas Company B had not changed their practices or procedures from the time of the initial surveys and when the interviews were conducted. The initial general labor participants from the start of the study were requested to complete a follow-up survey interview. Participants were asked questions about their continuing employment with Company ‘X’; if no longer employed, the reasoning behind employment separation was discussed. Furthermore, questioning pertaining to the company’s ongoing or updated policies were discussed with participants. In the same method, initial management and human resource personnel were re-interviewed at the end of the four year period and questions pertaining to ongoing or updated hiring processes, mental health benefits, training procedures, and company profit and losses were discussed.

Results

The results of the surveys showed that 26.67% (see Table 1) of Company A new hire women participants and 27.27% (see Table 1) of male new hire participants reported a previous mental illness prior to employment. Veteran employees of Company A reported 44.44% (see Table 1) of the women participants had experienced mental illness before hiring, and 29.41% (see Table 1) of the male participants had reported a previous mental illness. Company A newly hired women reported as a 33.33% (see Table 1) rate had experienced a new mental illness diagnosis after hiring, whereas 0% (see Table 1) of the newly hired men reported a new mental illness diagnosis since beginning. Company A veteran employees reported a new mental illness diagnosis since hiring as 22.22% for participating women and 11.76% for participating men (see Table 1). Company B new hire female participants reported a 25% rate of a previous mental illness with 0% new mental illness being reported since being hired (see Table 2). Male new hire participants from Company B reported as 7.14% pre-existing mental illnesses and 0% newly diagnosed mental illness since being hired (see Table 2). In comparison, veteran female employees of Company B reported a 21.43% rate of previous mental illness and a 28.57% of new mental health diagnoses since being hired (see Table 2). Male veteran employees reported an 8.33% of prior mental illness and a 16.67% rate of mental illness after being hired.

 

Section two of the survey consisted of questions surrounding management and human resources inquiring about previous and current mental health status. Company A new hire female participants reported that 6.67% had been asked previously to hiring about their mental health status with 6.67% being asked after they were hired in (see Table 3). Company A male new hire participants reported that 27.27% had been asked about previous mental health status during the interview stages with 27.27% also being asked after being hired in (see Table 3). Company A veteran female employees reported that 11.1% had been questioned about previous mental health prior to being hired and 44.44% reported being questioned again during their employment (see Table 3). However, Company A male veteran employees reported that 0% had been questioned prior to employment and 17.65% questioned after employment commenced (see Table 3). In comparison, Company B newly hired female participants reported that 33.33% had been asked about previous mental illness during the hiring process, and 0% being questioned after the hiring process (see Table 4). Company B newly hired male participants showed a larger percentage of 71.43% reported being questioned during the hiring process and 35.71% being questioned after being hired on (see Table 4). Veteran women employee participants from Company B also showed a larger percentage of 71.43% and 83.33% (see Table 4) of male participants reporting that they were questioned during the hiring process. In addition, 57.14% (see Table 4) of the veteran female employees reporting being questioned after the hiring process, and finally, 58.33% (see Table 4) of the veteran male participants reported being questioned after the hiring process.

 

 

Section 3 of the survey discussed how employees viewed the company for which they worked. 66.67% (see Table 5) of new female hires stated they had witnessed management treat employees with mental illnesses in a negative manner; however, 54.55% (see Table 5) of newly hired male participants reported that they had seen management mistreat employees with mental illnesses. 26.67%  of new female hires and 18.18% (see Table 5) of new male hire participants reported that they felt they had been treated poorly by management. Confidence levels in management by newly hired participants was at 26.67% for females and 45.45% (see Table 5) for males. Both male and female hires were somewhat low when it came to feeling appreciated by management with 46.67% of female and 54.55% of male participants reporting positively (see Table 5). 40% of newly hired males and 36.36% of newly hired females felt as if they were being overworked (see Table 5). However, 66.67% of newly hired female participants believed they had received adequate training and 90.91% of newly hired male participants agreed that their training had been adequate (see Table 5). Company A female veteran employees reported that they had witnessed the negative treatment of employees with mental illnesses at a rate of 66.67% and the males reporting a rate of 70.59%  (see Table 5). 33.33% of female veteran employee participants and 0% of veteran male participants for Company A reported being treated unfairly due to mental illness (see Table 5). Confidence in management was comparable to newly hired with 55.56% of female veteran employees and 47.06% of veteran male employees showing confidence. Veteran female employees displayed a high rate of belief in being appreciated at 88.98%, whereas veteran male employees showed only 58.82% believed they were appreciated by the company (see Table 5). 64.71% of veteran males and 44.44% of veteran female employees stated that they felt overworked (see Table 5). However, 100% of veteran female employees reported having adequate training and materials in comparison to 58.83% of veteran male employees in Company A.

In comparison, Company B initial survey results produced a 66.67% rate of the witness of mistreatment towards individuals with mental illnesses by management from newly hired female participants and only 28.57% newly hired males reporting witnesses such acts (see Table 6). Only 8.33% of newly hired female and 7.14% of newly hired males from Company B reported that they had been the victims of mistreatment (see Table 6). However, male new recruits showed a much higher percentage of confidence in management at 71.43% compared to only 25% of newly hired female participants (see Table 6). 71.43% of newly hired males felt appreciated at Company B compared to 41.67% of newly hired females (see Table 6). Newly hired females at Company B reported feeling overworked at a rate of 58.33% compared to a lower 21.43% reported rate from newly hired males (see Table 6). Adequate training and materials were reported by 75% of newly hired females and 71.43% of newly hired males at Company B (see Table 6). Company B veteran employees showed an increase in the witness of other employees being mistreated by management for having mental illnesses with 85.71% of veteran female employees reporting being a witness and 58.33% of veteran men confirming such acts occur (see Table 6). However, only 28.57% of veteran female employees and 16.67% of veteran male employees reported that they had been treated unfairly (see Table 6). Confidence in management among veteran employees was low with veteran female employees reporting a confidence level of only 21.43% and males only 25%. Veteran male and female employees reported a range of 42-50% in the feeling of being appreciated, whereas they reported a range of 64%-66% being overworked. Veteran employee participants at Company B were comparable in percentages of agreement on adequate training of materials with ranges of 58%-64% (see Table 6).

The follow-up reports conducted after 4 years’ time showed that 12 of the 15 previous newly hired female participants and 9 of the 11 previously newly hired male participants still worked at Company A (see Table 7). Seven of the previous veteran female employees were remaining at Company A out of the initial 9, and 12 of the initial 17 veteran male employees remained as active employees (see Table 6). Improvement to work conditions were reported by 10 of the remaining previous newly hired participants and by 8 of the remaining previously newly hired male participants (see Table 6). Company A previous veteran employee participants were recorded at 7 remaining female and 12 remaining males, with 6 of the females reporting a marked improvement in work conditions and 12 of the males reporting an improvement (see Table 6).

Company B, which did not receive the suggested policy changes, showed a drastic decline in employment and morale when the original participants were revisited after 4 years. Only 8 of the original 12 newly hired female employees remained, alongside 13 of the original 14 males (see Table 8). However, only 1 previously newly hired female reported that the workplace had improved for employees in Company B (see Table 8). Of the 14 previous female veteran employees surveyed in the initial process, only 10 remained, with only 1 reporting an improved workplace. The percentages reported by previous male veteran employees was more drastic as only 5 of the original 12 remained with none reporting an improvement.

The initial surveys conducted with human resources and management of Company A concluded that 5 of  9 of the women participants hired individuals with treatable/functioning mental illnesses with 6 of 9 being satisfied with Company A’s mental well-being policies (see Table 9). In comparison, 3 out of 5 male members of management and human resources stated that they would hire individuals with treatable/functioning mental illnesses with the same number being satisfied with Company A’s mental well-being policies (see Table 9). After the 4-year follow-up survey, it was found that 100% of the initial human resource and management participants were still employed by company A (see Table 9).

The follow-up stats showed an increase with 7 of the women and 4 of the men willing to hire individuals with treatable/functioning mental illnesses and 8 of the women and 5 of the men pleased with the direction of Company A’s mental well-being policies. In stark contrast, Company B showed a major change in employment numbers while not providing much in change for hiring policies. Out of the original 6 women from Company B who participated, only 2 remained (see Table 10). However, out of the 6 men from Company B who initially participated, 5 were remaining after the 4-year period (see Table 10). Initially, 2 women and 6 men from the human resource and management positions within Company B would consider hiring individuals with treatable/functioning mental illnesses with 4 being satisfied with the companies policies (see Table 10). The male participants from Company B initially reported that none would hire individuals with treatable/functioning mental illness and that 5 of the 6 were satisfied with company policy. After 4 years, the 2 remaining women participants stated that they were not inclined to hire individuals with treatable/functioning mental illnesses and that they were both satisfied with Company B’s policies (see Table 10). The follow up showed that the 5 remaining males would also not be inclined to hire individuals with treatable/functioning mental illness and that they were all also satisfied with company policy.

Reference

Gowan, N., & Robbins, B. (2012). MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE: COST EFFECTIVE ACCOMMODATION. OOHNA Journal, 31(3), 14-17.

 




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