Strategies to eliminate stigma in the office

Saturday, October 5th, 2019 00:00 |
Mental health.

Samson Osero

When the HIV/AIDS pandemic was a new global phenomenon, people with the virus were discriminated, making them lose self-confidence and self-esteem.

Alcoholics, drug pushers and gamblers are a laughing stock for excessive engagement in what the society abhors.

Although the stigma against affected people is multi-faced, its consequences on working relationships and organisational productivity cannot be ignored.

Here are some of the approaches that employers may use to minimise stigmatisation at the workplace.

Awareness Creation

The major reason for stigmatisation is lack of knowledge and negative attitude towards the conditions of the affected employees.

People are quick to point out that victims contributed to their own suffering and do not deserve empathy.

This misplaced notion is oblivious to the reality that anyone, including close relative, can suffer from the eventuality.

Employers that mind about the dignity of employees mount awareness creation programmes that focus on understanding the effects of stigmatised conditions.

Provision of Support

Employees who are afflicted with addictive disorders require professional help to enable them reform and continue with work.

HIV/AIDS victims need medical support to not only prolong their lives but also contribute towards organisational service delivery.

Alcohol and drug addicts, some of whom are productive employees, need professional counseling which may be concluded with admission to rehabilitation centres.

Organisations with institutionalised support mechanisms such as employee welfare programmes for the challenged employees stand out as employers of choice. 

Review of Policies

As the workplace structures continue to evolve, other forms of stigmatisation shall arise causing far reaching implications than the current ones.

For example, employees whose mental health is unstable may be ignorantly stigmatised.

The sick employees should be assisted to seek professional mental care instead of stealthily referring to them using derogatory names or signs.

The ball is on the employers’ court to regularly review their human resource policies to incorporate guidelines for handling emerging workplace issues such as the mental ones.

Contribution to Legislation

Legislation plays a key role in providing protection and support to people who may be discriminated on health and incapacity grounds.

It also provides institutional frameworks that would address the problems faced by the affected persons.

There is need, therefore, to review current legislation to strengthen institutions that tackle HIV/AIDS, drug abuse and mental health.

In the long run, the recommended problem-solving actions from these institutions will trickle down to reduce stigmatisation levels in the work environment.

Corporate Participation

The UN international days’ calendar has slots such as HIV/AIDS day for informing the populace on the progress made on addressing various capital health issues.

Employees from various organisations should be allowed to participate in the relevant national events to keep abreast on tested approaches in combating stubborn health conditions.

As part of corporate social responsibility, firms may participate in the functions through financial sponsorships.

Informed employees are more likely to change their attitudes towards unfounded stigmatisation than those who bury their heads in sand.

The writer is a human resource consultant

Email: [email protected]

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