Long-term ill health is considered a big contributor to inactivity in the UK, according to the Office for Nationals Statistics (ONS), as workers take time off to deal with their problems. And a significant part of them is related to mental health.
But now Rethinkly, a self-proclaimed “virtual world platform,” believes its solution could help workers deal with workplace issues.
Its office software is already used in organizations such as the UK’s NHS and IBM, and citing its own research, 81% of workers “believe workplace disagreements are common” – and 1 in 3 think they can “To show their true feelings in this setting, she says her platform can make employees feel more comfortable expressing themselves, and perhaps in turn improve collaboration and productivity.
The aforementioned study by the ONS showed that the number of people taking leave increased by almost half a million between 2019 and 2022, and separately the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that last year 60% of people took leave. absences were related to mental rather than physical problems.
This shows that we are in “probably the worst mental health crisis in decades”, according to Rethinkly. In an attempt to remedy this, Rethinkly makes bold claims about its new platform, suggesting that it will “transform the way managers, therapists, life coaches and others can address mental health and workplace issues by applying real-world experiences in the context of the virtual freedom.”
It also claims to “use a combination of the insights of practitioners, academia and case studies, leading to one of the most sophisticated communication problem solving tools in the world.”
In creating a virtual world, Rethinkly aims to eliminate “all references to the real world” to achieve neutrality. Employees can then create their avatars, which can act as emoticons for them, which the company says can provide “sufficient distance for reflection and clear communication.”
This separation from reality seems to be crucial as the virtual world allows people to communicate and express themselves in ways they would feel uncomfortable in the real world.
Images are also used a lot in Rethinkly to help people express themselves in ways they can’t or won’t with words. The NHS has also used the platform to help patients who find it difficult or impossible to communicate through words.
Rethinkly also says that the software can be “used under the guidance of an expert – which may be appropriate for particularly complex issues, including the mental health sector”, and that “users can be taught how to use the software in minutes”, ensuring that that everyone can benefit from it.
Rethinkly also notes that VR is also being explored in this context, perhaps hinting at possible future integration with the technology.
And if companies needed a justification to consider the mental health of their employees, Andrew Jackson, co-founder of Rethinkly, notes that “there is a direct payoff both financially as the data shows, spending £1 will return them £5 and in growth by unlocking innovation and creativity.