With the world economics still showing signs of vulnerability, businesses continue to be under pressure to ensure profit margins are sustained whilst maintaining steady growth. With the consumer now demanding greater value and/or quality product for their dollar, businesses need to find savings wherever possible to ensure they can maintain their customer base whilst not being detriment to their profit margins.

“More-For-Less” in the context of business relates to obtaining greater volumes of goods and/or greater level of services for the same or less money. In addition to this, business organisational structures are usually one of the areas looked upon to identify cost saving. Such savings come through avenues such as assigning more responsibility to existing employees without the need to employ additional people or in some cases merging roles which allows the business to reduce employee numbers. This contributes to having a business running lean, efficient and profitable.

From a business perspective, it is able to stay a viable, profitable business and makes good business sense using the “More-For-Less” approach. If a business is able to eliminate waste and become more efficient, then an increase in productivity within the workplace may be achieved… BUT AT WHAT COST?

We know that businesses don’t enjoy being in a position in offloading employees, however if a business success and viability is going to be at the forefront then difficult decisions need to be made. In many cases there is a fine line between the collapse of a business with all employees out of work as a pose to a thinning out of a business structure with positions retained.

Unfortunately for the employees that have retained their positions, in many cases it is these employees that potentially pay the biggest price for the “More-For-Less” approach. Im in no way trying to dilute the mental health impact it has on those that now find themselves unemployed for I am speaking from the perspective of the remaining employees within a business structure.

On reflection of how safety has evolved over the past decade within work places across Australia, we have certainly learnt a lot about workplace safety. Our attitudes towards the safety of our employees has been a positive change in the right direction…I’m sure many will agree. Safety statistics are not perfect but certainly we have made a significant impact towards having interdependent safety cultures. In many cases, phrases such as “safety is our core value”, “safety is our priority”, “safety at any cost” were slogans amongst many that had driven the message over time and have been proven to be extremely effective.

So should workplaces now be taking a similar approach with the mental health and wellbeing for their employees in relation to the “More-For-Less” approach?

I would be the first to agree that by passing on additional responsibilities / workload to an employee as a result of eliminating waste and identifying efficiencies can be very beneficial to a business however we need to risk assess whether additional workloads may impact a person’s mental health and wellbeing prior to implementing such changes. Ignoring realities such as the number of hours in a day, the physical and mental limitations of a human being simply does everyone a disservice. If we overburden people and systems, we will succeed only in burning out employees, experience equipment failures and process meltdowns. This may also result in cutting corners or engaging in other activities that threaten the ethical and moral foundations in which successful businesses are supported.

Whilst I don’t believe businesses are intentionally putting their employees at risk, I do believe the association between workloads and an employee’s mental health and wellbeing are not always factored in when utilising the “More-For-Less” approach. Many businesses are taking the mental health and wellbeing of their employees seriously with the implementation of Mental Health & Wellbeing Awareness training and other supporting initiatives so there are positive steps being undertaken. So adopting the learnings from the safety models, we must not limit ourselves as businesses by providing administration controls but look at the prevention and elimination levels of hierarchy. I would ask the question to your business, is your “More-For-Less” approach or strategy exposing your employees to mental health and wellbeing issues?

Speaking from a personal perspective, the pressures and stress as a result of an unmanageable workload (for a human) which related to a “More-For-Less” approach cost me my mental health and wellbeing amongst everything that is associated with ill health. It is something that should not be taken lightly when making business decisions that have the potential to affect a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

This is not isolated to businesses across Western Australia nor the rest of Australia for this issue is an ongoing concern across the globe. The correspondence I have had with both businesses and individuals within Australia and overseas has highlighted that the need to “re-think” business strategies such as the “More-For-Less” approach is becoming critical if businesses are going to be sustainable. Many businesses have changed their thought process and changed their strategies towards the “Less-For-Less” approach which has seen their businesses thrive with greater productivity and profit margins that are relevant to their achievable output. It is a remarkable approach these businesses have taken which is important to note has had the interest of their employee’s mental health and wellbeing at the forefront.

Something that we can all reflect on and work towards a business that incorporates  a “mentally healthy” work environment.


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