Our mental wellness is moulded by different situations in life and how we are able to cope up with them. Emotional wellness is a holistic result of one’s thoughts, actions, and emotional responses to any given circumstance. The last two years have been very stressful for people at large as they were expected to balance double duties – chores at home and their work and also deal with long period of social isolation. This had a severe impact on not just their physical health but also their emotional wellbeing. The awareness around mental health and well-being have also been brought to the surface, propelled by increasing number of people voicing their concern on social media.
When it comes to emotional wellness of employees, a large part of the onus lies with employers as a person spends most of their day at work. It is accurate to claim that employee mental health issues have a detrimental impact on companies and enterprises through higher absenteeism, low productivity, and profits, as well as higher costs directly impacting the company’s financial performance. A 2022 Deloitte cross-industry study confirms the scope of the problem: Only 59% of surveyed employees said that their well-being was good or excellent, and the most-cited factors acting against well-being across both employees and C-suite executives were a heavy workload or a stressful job (30%) and not having enough time because of long work hours (27%). However, only a handful of companies have identified the issue and designed policies keeping employee wellbeing at the heart of it. Employers need to understand the problem faced by employees at the grassroots level and act accordingly to come up with custom solutions designed along with health experts. Here are some of the key things to consider while designing a mental wellness program for employees.
Don’t live in denial – Employers may deal with some significant challenges such as low productivity, disengagement, and burnout as they notice that when employees aren’t at their best, both their work performance and the success of the firm suffer. However, executives need to understand the core problem and not dismiss that mental health can be key contributor to reducing productivity. Some corporates have blanket wellness initiatives that promise to address these problems but they often don’t deliver measurable outcomes. Employers should actively talk to their employees to identify their concerns and according design solutions. They can have an anonymous grievance redressal systems where employees are encouraged to put forth their issues. This can help in identifying issues before they start impacting the overall growth of business.
On-board an experienced healthcare partner: Employers today can reach out to connected tech-enabled platforms who offer physical and emotional healthcare services to employees and their families. This can be a great option as it helps organizations focus on their core competencies while an expert takes care of their employee’s health. This can also provide benefits like convenience, patient centric approach, confidentiality and detailed feedback can also be obtained, anonymously.
Enhanced Productivity Quotient: Many businesses are developing improved working practises that aid in boosting worker satisfaction, engagement, creativity, and productivity. Businesses are incentivizing employees to take a break by providing them with perks and advantages. Free gym memberships, increased holiday pay, and social gatherings that allow staff some time away from the job. Such rewards are provided to employees to enable “strategic rejuvenation.” According to Schulte, something that fosters contentment and fosters a strong work ethic is essential to keeping a positive relationship between a firm and its employees.
Encourage down time: Many people find it difficult to focus on one item for more than a few hours. Hence, seniors should encourage them to take more frequent, shorter breaks throughout the day if doing so makes them feel more productive rather than imposing rigorous one-hour lunch intervals. Also, taking short vacations should be encouraged to avoid burnout since this can help in renewed vigour that can result in increased productivity.
Assisting employees in setting priorities and achieving their goals: In any organisation, the majority of occupations are likely to have a detailed job description and a list of prioritised objectives. Knowing how those pre-determined goals contribute to the business purpose will probably inspire them to perform at the highest level, but if they are given the freedom to select their own short-term/operational goals, they may feel even more motivated—and fulfilled—at work. The senior leadership must attempt to establish a structure that gives the workers more liberty without jeopardising crucial business objectives. The corporation must define team members’ overall strategic goals and provide them the freedom to create their own plans for achieving those goals. A control over one’s objectives can contribute to a mental stability and well-being.
Considering the increasing rate at which people are becoming conscious of their health (both emotional and physical) on a global scale, business health programmes are crucial. All-inclusive and well-organized employee health plans are something that corporates need to look at closely to maintain optimum health of employees. Enhanced corporate health initiatives will result in a happier, healthier, and more productive and resilient workforce who can handle the needs of the evolving workplace. Being a developing economy, India Inc. needs to take notice of employee wellness – it could possibly help overcome challenges such as great resignation and silent quitting popular across the globe.
(The author is Ms. Galveen Kaur, Co-Founder, Connect and Heal and the views expressed in this article are her own)