Liberty, Equality, and Health: When Banning Rhymes With Revolution

As studies converge to alert the mental health status of workers in France, prevention, protection and self-protection could be the new paradigm for the new government’s social policy

Far from being trivial, the company’s consideration of employees’ mental health constitutes a legitimate topic of governance. Whenever a difficult situation can be anticipated, a crisis can be avoided, and problems addressed, we have to start. Prevention of Psychosocial Risks (PSR) is an entrepreneurial necessity as much as it is a medical, managerial, ethical and…moral one. A need that must be effectively regulated, in a selective rather than imposed manner, by encouraging the support and participation of all stakeholders.

leave the office

But in France lies a misunderstanding: prevention measures focus exclusively on the employee’s professional environment. A simplified, restrained, honest and dusty vision, where “working conditions” are reduced to the individual and exclusive responsibility of the business owner to “resources”, on an area of ​​100 square meters between the office (or workshop) and coffee machine, from nine in the morning until six in the evening!

The revolution in this area will be the consideration of the employee as a whole. To do so, we must get out of the hyper-nationalist tension/turmoil dialectic, which centers on professional life as the only source of risks that an employer must take into account in order to take into account the global mental health prevention that cannot be stopped. At the gates of the professional world. Paths exist to expand visibility, create sponsorship pathways for employee life events outside the company, without interference, while respecting privacy. Studies show that there is an urgent need to redirect actions to prevent mental health risks: in two out of three cases, the causes of reduced performance at work appear in the employee’s private life*!.

Mental health: the indivisible individual

Physical health is well supported by medical networks, and is generally well supported by a prevention policy. Until recently, mental health disorders were treated as shameful illnesses, both in companies and in society more broadly. But the truth is clear: instances of distress, and even risky behaviors, observed among employees are increasing.

Added to the sources of “objective” and collective anxiety related to the general environment (Covid, the war in Ukraine, deep fears about purchasing power), the phenomena of individual anxiety or even mental crises about uncertainty and threats to privacy. But these turbulent and weak states of mind do not cling to the door of the company. Far from fragmentation, the dimensions of an individual’s career/private life interact, sometimes unconsciously. The trauma of divorce or bereavement accompanies an individual at work, just as a failure or stressful situation at work in general affects a person’s general relational quality, availability, including in the private circle.

freedom of prohibition

For this prevention system to work, it must be based on “volunteering”. It should be easily accessible regardless of technology; Anywhere in the world and at any time of life. Thus freedom is shaped by the proactive action of the employees. Cela suppose naturellement qu’il y ait en face de sa demande … du « répondant » si l’on ose dire, c’est-à-dire la possibilité d’accéder en temps réel à un échange ou à une rencontre avec expert.

Equality in health: one man (one woman) = one vote

Who should benefit from such a universal preventive service that, where appropriate, takes responsibility for both work and private life? Answer: All employees of the company, whatever the hierarchical level, the job. Because everyone contributes, affects the performance of the organisation. From the bottom to the top of the scale, everyone is primarily interested in their own scale.

At the end of reasoning, this principle of equality must go beyond the framework of the company itself: however, the employee rarely lives in isolation or in a vacuum: the entourage is necessarily affected, even stakeholders in the employee’s mental health state. employees. , as confirmed by the beautiful film Stefan Brezy, Another World. So does not logic dictate that every person living in the family should benefit from this kind of service? Paradoxically, preventing risks related to maintaining performance also includes considering criteria that have nothing to do with traditional criteria or KPIs to measure said performance.

positive revolution

Feedback from organizations in France that have launched into this global approach to the prevention of PSR is very encouraging. The rates of membership, accreditation and above all the use of this type of services within companies are much higher than the figures for services that focus only on the professional framework.

In France, the annual rate of cases handled, all sizes and all business sectors combined, is 3% of the total number of employees. It rises between 6 and 8% among our German and Swiss neighbours. A concrete example of the beneficial effects of this type of voluntary and proactive work for “global” prevention of PSR: in all cases, a significant reduction in absenteeism was observed.

These positive elements have consequences in terms of productivity, performance, and turnover, but also the culture of the organization. By accepting the decision makers, the return on investment is systematically positive. Yes, there is a lot of news regarding risk prevention in mental health: we can even talk about a revolution underway.

* According to ICAS France (2020 figures),