Workplace ‘pleasanteeism’ and mental health challenges

Recently released research commissioned by Lime suggests that ‘pleasanteeism’ is undermining efforts to promote an open dialogue about mental health in the workplace.

The findings, published in ‘Keeping up Appearances: How ‘Pleasanteeism’ is Eroding Resilience’, suggest that a significant proportion of the workforce are suffering from deteriorating mental health, with the pandemic leaving many feeling less resilient than ever before. The research also found that a lot of people feel the need to conceal their anxieties and put on a brave face at work even when feeling stressed, under pressure or in need of help.

This brave face culture – coined ‘workplace pleasanteeism’ – is believed to be having a negative impact on mental health, personal resilience and productivity. Among the report’s key findings were:

  • 40% of workers feel less resilient now than before the pandemic
  • 26% feel they are struggling to cope at work
  • 51% feel under pressure to put on a brave face in front of colleagues
  • 44% admit that low personal resilience impacts their ability to do their job effectively.

Worryingly, the report suggests that businesses could be heading for a mental health crisis, although it does outline a number of simple initiatives employers could introduce to support the mental health and resilience of their employees. These include:

  • Conducting an employee survey and analysing absence data to reveal potential problems and understand how people are feeling
  • Creating opportunities for colleagues to chat and relate to each other outside of ‘work’
  • Senior team members sharing their own challenges to encourage a more open and caring atmosphere
  • Encouraging wellbeing initiatives and mindful practices that employees can do in their own time.

“The past 18 months have had a huge impact on people’s lives, including on their mental health and resilience. The long-term repercussions of the pandemic are likely to be felt for years to come, and it’s important we act now to be aware of and prioritise both our own mental health and that of those around us.”

– Shaun Williams, CEO & Founder of Lime Global Ltd