Mental health is a fairly new concept as psychology has only relatively recently become an accepted field of science. Because of this, society is still trying to understand mental health and adapt to the integration of this understanding within every sphere of society, namely, the workplace. Currently, the average employee is overworked, and the work-cycle does not allow for them to effectively recuperate. The mental health of employees is important for both the individual employees and the business as a whole because people work best when they feel at their best. However, mental health is often not properly addressed in the workplace, leading to the unhappiness of many.
Expectations in the Work Environment
People are expected to separate their mental and emotional health from their business and work life, but this is an unrealistic expectation as humans simply do not work like that. While someone may be able to ignore their mental health at work for a period of time, eventually, this suppression will become impossible. Prioritizing mental health should be praised rather than shunned and tabooed. Promoting the integration of positive psychology into the workplace is a major step in improving the environment for employees and the conditions of their mental health. Positive psychology pairs well with the workplace environment because of its basis on the application and praise of individual skills.
The Problem with the Current Work Cycle
One of the pillars of the average working person’s life is the Monday through Friday 40-hour work week. With this comes the institution of extended breaks to give employees time off, but the return to the workplace after a long vacation produces a negative result as positive effects from the break are overcome within days (APA). Because of this, a recommendation to replace the current work week and long breaks is a three-day weekend. The implementation of an extended weekend is being tested and studied at companies such as Microsoft, and researchers have actually discovered various benefits from a three-day weekend.
The Promises of a Three-Day Weekend.
With the assurance of a three-day weekend after a four-day work week, workers have time to recharge and can depend on having the time to destress every week rather than building up stress and waiting for an annual week-long break. Not only did the Microsoft study find that there was decreased stress and anxiety in workers upon returning to work after a three-day weekend, but there was also a 39.9% increase in the productivity of the workers (Richardson). Another benefit from the company end is a decrease in absence and time-off requests.
An additional benefit of a three-day weekend is the 23.1% decrease in the use of electricity due to the decrease of activity in the workplace and the increase of the chance for workers to unplug during the weekend and engage in fewer electronic pastimes. At the end of the study, 92.1% of workers said they preferred the four-day work week, and Microsoft intends to repeat the experiment. Because the move to a four-day work week would be a great adjustment for our society, it may be a while until more companies opt to test the new work cycle. However, there is hope with the fact that such a big company like Microsoft is considering moving to a four-day weekend in the interest of its employees.
Companies Should Consider the Health of Their Employees.
The expectation for any person to keep their emotional and mental health separated from other aspects of their life is extreme and an unacceptable norm in society. Companies should do better in their part of promoting mental health awareness and taking the initiative to meet the needs of their employees. Part of the solution to improving the mental health of workers is a transition to a three-day weekend in place of long holidays because it would benefit both workers and companies.