Companies are now also starting to touch on a potentially troubling area: their employees’ mental health. ... [Programs] range from training managers to spot problems to rehabilitating those suffering breakdowns. A growing number of boutique consultancies such as Corporate Psychology and Mental Fitness are also offering to improve workers’ mental well-being.
The fashion is being driven by simultaneous developments in two usually distinct areas—health care and management theory. Doctors report that more than a third of the physical problems they encounter have some psychological basis. Management gurus are also discovering the joys of psychology. Business professors have taken to littering their texts with references to “toxic organisations” and “emotional contagion”. Several psychologists have become
influential gurus in their own right. Daniel Goleman of Rutgers University sings the praises of “emotional intelligence” in the workplace. Steven Berglas, a psychiatrist turned management professor at UCLA, offers advice on how to “reclaim the fire” after burnout. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania argues that “positive psychology” can improve productivity and creativity. There is even a new business discipline, neuroleadership, that promises to use brain science to improve senior management.
This all sounds promising. But there are nevertheless several troubling aspects.
The first worry is that promoting psychological wellness crosses an important line between the public and the private, raising awkward questions. ...
A second worry is about the scientific foundations of the mental-wellness movement. A phrase like “mental fitness” is bound to attract charlatans and snake-oil salesmen. Warren Bennis of the University of Southern California has noted that the new “science” of neuroleadership is “filled with banalities”. Other people are less complimentary.
... Companies that chase the will-o’-the-wisp of “positive attitudes” may end up damaging themselves as well as sticking their noses where they have no business.
Click to read the rest of "Mens sana in corporation sano" (The Economist).
I too have concerns about employers overstepping boundaries of employees' private lives. Your thoughts?