Company and employees
Representational picture Pixabay

Apart from an increase in income, an employer's attention and a kind gesture motivate employees to work harder and boost their mental health, a study has suggested.

A new study aimed at helping bus drivers with their health goals and improving work performance explained the employees had an improved work performance and well-being when served a fresh fruit (an apple or a banana) in addition to their lunch for three weeks.

The study published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics suggested that specifically eating an extra apple or banana reduced depression, improved self-efficacy, and traffic safety in the drivers.

"The research contributes to a better understanding of the food impact on work performance and well-being, and contributes to the debate on how hygiene factors alter job performance," said lead author Bu Zhong, associate professor of journalism at Penn State University.

"An ultimate solution to improve worker performance and health could be big pay raises or reduced workloads, but even small gestures [in the form of offerings] can make a big difference," the author added.

To figure out how the fruit affected participants' mental health, the researchers surveyed each bus driver at various points throughout the experiment, with the first survey a week before the study began.

The researcher, which also assessed the participants' confidence in completing tasks and reaching specific goals, apart from evaluating depression with a questionnaire developed by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found an improvement in depression and indicated a bit higher self-efficacy.

Work-related stress has short term effects such as headache, shallow breathing, sleeping troubles, anxiety, and an upset stomach, and can lead to more significant health problems, including heart disease, back pain, depression, muscle aches, and a weakened immune system, apart from negatively impacting focus and increasing error making chances, in long term.

Employers can play a critical role in protecting individuals from stress and burnout, as well as, preventing suicides in the workforce and improving employees' mental health, an umbrella term for psychological, emotional, and social well-being.

An individual's mental health can be affected by unwanted situations and medical conditions, including trauma, changes in brain chemistry, and family history of mental health issues.

According to a study by researchers from the American Academy of Neurology, a sudden financial hit can also impact brain health and a sudden dip in income leads to poor cognitive skills and memory, particularly in adults.

Firstly, accepting that you are suffering from something, and then seeking counseling, spending time with family, and indulging in regular exercise or yoga can boost an individual's mental health, apart from eating foods like green vegetables, wholegrain, yogurt, berries, and nuts.