The pandemic propelled many organizations to recognize that mental well-being is critical to their employees overall well-being. As these needs evolve and re-define the future of work, its imperative that companies continue to focus on helping their people adapt and thrive in a disruptive environment – one in which mental resilience and self-care will take center-stage.
On World Mental Health Day, we asked the technology leaders on how companies should invest in their people’s holistic well-being, what do employees seek from their employers in a post-pandemic world and how are organizations creating and executing their mental wellness policies in more innovative ways.
Lakshmi C, Managing Director – Human Resources Lead, Accenture in India
“Health and wellbeing have emerged as one of the biggest priorities of our times. At Accenture, we have been focused on the holistic well-being – body, mind, heart and soul – of our people since several years now. We encourage our people to practice self-care and our industry-leading medical benefits program helps our people put themselves and their families first.
Encouraging our people to embrace their mental wellbeing with dignity and compassion is equally important to us. We enable this by creating awareness and through advocacy to break the stigma around mental health. We also endeavor to create psychologically safe spaces where our people feel comfortable enough to say that ‘I’m not okay’, and reach out for help via the resources and support systems that we offer.”
Pranali Save, Chief Human Resources Officer, Icertis
“The pandemic brought about numerous changes in the way businesses operate. The adoption of a hybrid way of working contributed to a boost in productivity at the workplace. But it also pointed to the need for a greater focus on employee well-being, including mental health. A report by PWC revealed that 75% of HR leaders are not fully confident that the workload upon employees in this new way of working, is manageable enough for them to make full use of personal time.
Most employees now place flexibility and the ability to choose how they work as top priorities. They also look at their role from a purpose-driven work angle, one which is directly linked to how they contribute to the larger scheme of things for their organization. Having aligned on their deliveries as crucial to what the company delivers, employees feel more motivated, and timely recognition and benefits act as stimulators. Here, employers have a huge role to play in mitigating work-related, mental health related issues among employees by being more mindful about them and their evolving needs.
Several forms have today transformed their Employee Assistance Programmes into key platforms to engage, empathize and safeguard employees. This marks a shift from a reactive to a more active focus on employee wellness. At Icertis, we have developed a Four Rings of Responsibility framework that places stronger emphasis on our employee’s and their families physical and mental well-being ahead of business responsibilities. This helps them to prioritize, in an order of – themselves, their families, community, and business.”
Sankalp Saxena, SVP & Managing Director, India Operations, Nutanix
Over the years, mental health issues in the workplace have seen a significant rise globally, and this further accelerated with the onset of COVID-19. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global mental health burden. Another industry report highlights that poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around USD 14 billion annually in absenteeism, lower productivity, and attrition. Companies must ensure that their employees work in a healthy work environment that suits their needs.
At Nutanix, we shape our policies to best suit our team members’ well-being. Our Employee Assistance Program and Child Development Support Online Health Engagement Program are examples how we help our employees. By providing flexible work hours and a hybrid work model, we also encourage our employees to find the right work-life balance. In addition, we offer wellness days on a quarterly basis so our team members can take time off to rejuvenate and recharge.
Katarzyna Kern, Global head of HR at ANSR
“The pandemic may have ended but the shift to new ways of working is here to stay. To succeed in the post-pandemic work environment, organizations must make work an ‘additive’ to its people’s lives, by providing them with a sense of purpose, belonging, progress, and fulfilment. Employees who are well and happy perform significantly better, and studies show that this leads to a 6x return on wellness investments.
Although most companies offer medical benefits, not many promote holistic wellness of the employees. I strongly encourage frequent open dialogues between management teams and employees. It not only strengthens the employee relations but also inculcates a sense of responsibility among employees and creates a collaborative work environment, which leads to increased levels of happiness. Happiness at work should be the norm in organizations, not the exception, because when we are happy at work, we are happier at home.
Progressive organizations support employees in more innovative ways that foster better work-life integration rather than letting them figure out work-life balance. When employees are allowed to complete tasks at times that best suit them, it creates more harmony than balance.”
Anish Philip, Chief People Officer at Movate (formerly CSS Corp)
“Technology at workplace and corporate culture are intertwined, and their impact on employee mental health and wellbeing continues to evolve. We are a digital technology and customer experience services company, and we understand the value EX and CX hold in today’s new normal. However, at Movate, pandemic or no pandemic, we have always been mindful of our employees’ mental wellbeing and have provided a healthy work-life experience. We believe in being compassionate and responsive to the needs of our 11K+ Movators and have extended our support to them and their kin dealing with mental health concerns. We follow the philosophy of FRIENTORSHIP – ‘Friendship + Mentorship + Leadership’ creating a pleasant working environment.
Mental health has a profound impact on all areas of everyone’s life and is vital for one’s overall wellbeing. At Movate, we believe in striking the right balance between technology and people and therefore, we follow the Hi-Tech, Hi-Touch approach. I firmly believe that, to address mental health issues like stress and anxiety, technology alone does not help as it cannot replicate the human touch and reassurance. To address these, we have launched several initiatives for the holistic wellbeing of our employees. We have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and various wellness initiatives that help us create effective workplace strategies for healthier, happier employees.
Keeping our people-first approach, powered with human-centered technology, we have around-the-clock (24/7) employee assistance that provides counseling and aid to employees; HR chatbots automate responses to their queries, leading to faster issue resolutions. Besides, we run digital detox/digital quarantine to enable employees to find the right balance amid their hectic schedules and conduct virtual mindfulness sessions for their mental wellbeing. We often advise our employees to stay away from any digital device every once in a while, and allow them to spend quality time with themselves and their loved ones.
Additionally, we organize frequent virtual leadership townhalls, assistance programs, and counseling sessions to keep them engaged and productive. One of the initiatives that is close to my heart is having regular face-to-face HR sessions and an option to write/connect to me (CPO) directly. We have a 360° wellness program that includes physical, mental, and financial health benefits for employees.
We organize time-outs for different teams and business units to ensure they always feel rejuvenated. We have several internal awards and recognition programs that we run monthly, quarterly, and yearly to celebrate the efforts of our employees and ensure that they feel appreciated.
We believe in giving our employees the best of both worlds; therefore, we offer flexible work schedules that include WFH, WFA, hybrid, etc.
I firmly believe that organizations need to invest in employees’ holistic wellbeing to create a healthier workforce, stronger culture, and better employee engagement. Employees are likely to stick around when they are provided with a safe and empathetic environment where they can voice their opinions freely. At Movate, we believe that while the organization could march ahead with many accomplishments and milestones, the health and wellbeing of the employees are vital. We promote a human-centered workplace powered by technology, thereby creating a healthy and balanced environment.”
Reetu Raina, Vice President & Global Head of Talent Management at Amdocs
“Supporting employees’ holistic well-being should be a priority for every employer as it creates an environment where individuals can thrive and grow, and organizations can prosper. The pandemic has shown that flexibility can work for both employees and employers and a flexible working environment will attract and retain top talent. Hence, work-life balance, flexibility, clear vision and focus on mental health are front-of-mind for today’s workforce as they look to their employers for certainty about the future. This makes it necessary for organizations across all verticals to execute various mental health policies in an innovative way. Today, companies are investing in employee engagement programmes, personal counselling, stress and resiliency workshops and providing special leaves like ‘pawternity’, acknowledging the growing role pets play in employees’ lives. At Amdocs, through our ‘Vacation without Limits’ program, we empower our employees to plan their time off, get recharged and come back to work rejuvenated by enabling their wellbeing. With our employee-centric approach, we intend to continue taking up initiatives to create a healthy, respected, and successful work environment that encourages employee participation, resilience, and outperformance.”
Jharna Thammaiah, Director & India site People & Places Leader, Intuit.
“Organizations constantly align their well-being offerings to effectively serve employees in the hybrid work culture. It has become increasingly imperative that we understand what employees think, feel, and act like. At Intuit, we value holistic well-being and encourage our employees to invest in themselves by offering resources that can help them handle life’s challenges, build resilience and manage stress. This includes initiatives like, No meeting afternoon: A powerful step toward uninterrupted coding time for engineers, thus increasing productivity, Recharge Days in the last week of December in an effort to preserve mental health and personal well-being, in addition to other time off options including Family support time off. Furthermore, we also invest in our employees’ learning, development, and growth to make them feel more valued. Through our mindfulness benefits, our employees have access to certified and credentialed wellness coaches who can support lifestyle and stress management. We also provide a ‘well-being for life’ benefit where almost any expenses related to one’s physical, emotional, or financial well-being are eligible for reimbursement. Post pandemic we also introduced ‘mindful Mondays’ which were sessions to provide employees with the right dose of wellness to help them lead a healthier, happier and productive lifestyle.
At Intuit we believe in creating an environment where we can do the best work of our lives while bringing our whole selves to work. A major and long-lasting impact will come from how leaders communicate with, understand, and support their teams in a holistic way and this is how we do this at Intuit.”
“The pandemic, besides teaching us about the importance of our physical health, taught us to keep a check on our mental well-being. Entering the lockdown phase was hard, but it is only now that many realise how much harder to come out of it. The transition is stressful, overwhelming, and exhausting, not only at a personal but also at a professional level.
Adding to the stress is the moving-back-to-office scenario. The readjusting itself has taken a toll on many employees, impacting them especially mentally. In such a scenario, it is important for employers to build a healthy and welcoming workplace environment for employees, one in which they feel they can open up about these issues.
At 75F, we’ve been undertaking many collective initiatives in our approach to heed the concerns of our employees’ mental well-being. Towards this, we also ensure that the demands of work are not detrimental to our employees’ well-being. We focus on employee morale by organise employee engagement activities such as to help them feel at home even while in their workplace. To build team motivation, we also give away quarterly gifts, periodic recognition, and rewards—including tenure completion rewards. We organize regular team outings and festive get-togethers, as well as CSR activities such as World Environment Day, to avoid our employees from becoming mentally exhausted at work.
Another of our steps towards ensuring our employees’ health is by maintaining general hygiene in our workspaces. We take pride in ensuring factors that add to the physical environment, such as indoor temperature and proper ventilation for air and light, are monitored so that employees are comfortable while working in these spaces. This alone, we have noted, has helped improve their work efficiency.”
Priyan DC, CEO, Star Squared PR
“Mental health awareness has received significant attention in the media in recent years. Drastic changes at the workplace such as remote working, virtual meetings, and lack of social engagement for prolonged periods has resulted in stress among employees more than ever before. At Star Squared PR we recognize the importance of this and have tried to incorporate a host of initiatives into our daily routine to address these concerns as we moved back into the physical office. As an organisation we believe in building a collaborative team and a healthy workplace that will allow everyone to thrive individually and contribute to the overall success of the organisation.
Employee engagement activities have been calendared on a regular basis at the office with the aim of encouraging increased networking and one-to-one engagement with other team members. We also recently organised an off-site with the whole team, which included a host of outdoor activities as well as an interactive session on mental well-being with one of India’s leading psychologists, Ajanta De of Inner Sight. The session covered common challenges such as depression, anxiety, and the need to adjust to a new environment with many people having to relocate for jobs. We believe that such engagements on a regular basis can help build a comfort zone at work where employees feel valued and respected and are given an opportunity to address any challenges they may have.”
Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer and Head – Marketing, Tech Mahindra
“Today, organizations are focusing to create an environment where employees can meaningfully contribute and become the best versions of themselves. At Tech Mahindra, we believe in ‘Wellness before Business’ and have rolled out several #WellnessFirst initiatives to build a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace culture. We have in place Employee Assistance Program to provide 24*7 counseling support with expert counselors and coaches for emotional and mental health concerns; Emotional Wellness Self-Assessment Tools like Emotional Wellness Test for employees to assess their stress levels; AMIGO Program and People Care Manager Program to sensitize managers and build psychological safety at workplace, among others. We truly believe that organizations that focus on employee well-being and employee happiness are more productive.”
Sqn Ldr Dimple Rawat (Retd), Director – HR, Barco India
“At Barco, we prioritize the safety and well-being of our employees and strive to establish a healthy work culture, where people feel safe and cared for. On the occasion of World Mental Health Day, we plan to organize an interactive, knowledge-sharing session on digital detox. The session will be an opportunity for employees to share their queries and challenges and enhance their mental well-being over the longer term. We believe that a healthy workforce helps in building a productive, efficient, and resilient work environment.”
Rajalakshmi Sivanand, Head of People & Culture, Compass IDC
“As we step into a dynamic work environment, it’s imperative to reimagine workspace culture. Today organizations realize the importance of an integrated multicultural and inclusive work environment to foster employee well-being. At Compass, we approach employee interventions with curated projects like celebrating employee milestones, specialized medical counseling sessions, employee wellness sessions, virtual yoga, along with other initiatives that support and boost overall productivity and performance. These cultural interventions have been introduced in line with our ethos that focuses on building a technology-enabled conducive workplace where dreams are made”
Agendra Kumar, Managing Director, Esri India
“Overall well-being is an essential element of a well-developed, productive persona. At Esri India, we have built a people-centric culture, where trust and mutual respect are important pillars. As we prepare to celebrate World Mental Health Day, we have launched an internal campaign, ‘Your Well-Being Mantra’. The pandemic accentuated the need for holistic wellness at the workplace and with this initiative, we aim to promote a culture of open conversations and idea sharing. This, we believe, will help in creating a more collaborative and positive environment for our employees.”
Aditi Surana – High performance coach and Founder of APT mental gym
Every leader is expected to make the toughest decisions in the most logical, calm and efficient way possible. How is this possible if they are not mentally fit? So much is discussed about physical health and fitness. As a leader, what do you do to be mentally and emotionally fit?
People think stress is the problem. Stress leads to burnouts and breakdowns. That’s not entirely true. Stress is not bad. They blame it on stress. However, what they mean is that they do not have a correct mindset to deal with stress? Make a routine to invest time and attention into building that mindset. Use mental workouts to practice things that you find tough until they are not tough anymore. Pick out any situation that causes stress to you, during the day. Like a chess player studying his moves, think about healthier alternatives.
Preeti Malhotra, Practice Head- Wellness and Partnerships, Great Place to Work(R) India
As per WHO, an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year globally to depression and anxiety at a cost of US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Our research has shown that employees who do not feel pressured to continue working when exhausted, are 2.8X more likely to continue working for their organisation for the next three years. In the current context, when organizations are struggling with the great resignation, employee wellbeing is an absolute culture essential.
The pandemic has triggered an increase of over 25% in stress, anxiety, burnout and depression and employees today consider wellness benefits and a culture of holistic wellbeing among their top three priorities when they choose their workplace. Flexibility is also a norm in today’s work context irrespective of the industry or size of the organization. Employees want to work in an environment where they bring their whole selves to work, can speak about without the fear of being judged and have opportunity to be a part of a meaningful purpose impacting the larger community. Thus, Ethical business practices, Wellbeing and true Inclusion are absolute non negotiables for the workplaces of the future.
Organizations today not just provide access to certified counsellors through a reputed EAP provider, but consciously create an environment of psychological safety in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with mental health concerns.
Best Workplaces ensure that they are training and equipping managers to take care of their own wellbeing and also be able to support their teams to manage their wellbeing. Some organizations have also got a group of employees trained and certified as Mental Health First aiders who proactively identify signs of mental health concerns and act as buddies and first level of support for employees.
Things like Wellness leaves, clearly calling out behaviours by leaders and managers that are not acceptable, defining no meeting hours or days, marking out timelines beyond which no work-related calls and mails are to be entertained are all healthy steps that progressive organizations are taking to create workplaces where employees not just work but thrive.
Sahil Mathur, CHRO InMobi Group
“At InMobi, we strive to understand our employees’ technical, functional, behavioural and leadership needs, with a particular priority placed on employee well-being and care. It is a concern of ever-growing importance, and we recognise that we must provide our employees with all the relevant instruments to address and cater to overall well being and especially mental health. Leaders at InMobi are equipped with the relevant experience and knowledge to identify mental health needs among their team members. By exercising empathy and exhibiting genuine care, a leader can then work towards having people openly talk about and address mental health needs. At InMobi, employees are also provided with the privilege of taking leave without providing any reasoning especially related to wellness, so that they can take their time to rejuvenate and award themselves with the break they rightfully deserve. We also offer sessions in the likes of mindfulness, mental health, emotional well-being, and physical well-being. There is a dedicated team of experienced
In the second case, it’s necessary to understand the intricate science of what creates good mental health. Only then will we know how every element, every touchpoint is a chance to add to or deplete from ‘mental health’, no matter how difficult the conversation or demanding the situation. Toxic work cultures are completely out of question then!
At TurboHire, we understand that Leaders make the largest impact; and hence the highest priority, besides meeting business objectives – is given to leaders’ regulating their values, emotions and actions. The People Success function is constantly evaluating short term and long term impact of all systems and communications on the overall culture as well as individuals. Aside from the quintessential unlimited wellness leaves, no laptop after a certain hour, and weekends off, we are always doing more for our members. Because as ‘TurboHumans’, building everything that we want in our lives – great health, family, relationships, and so on – are taken as a part of work and performance!’
Abraham George, Chief People Officer and a member of the Board of Directors at Ennoventure Inc
“Health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being and the foundation of a healthy organization is a healthy employee. Statistics on mental health and employee burnout are staggering. WEF mentions that one in eight people has mental health issues and a 2022 Mercer study quotes that 81% of employees are at risk of burnout this year. Every outperforming organizations helps employees to maintain their internal equilibrium by offering a holistic mental health support.
At Ennoventure, we are waging a fight against the threat of worldwide counterfeiting and holistic employee well-being is a business imperative.In addition to health and safety at work, our leadership team prioritizes mental resilience ,social interaction apart from financial stability.
We foster a culture where our team members communicate freely, ask questions, express concerns, and share ideas. Our policies and practices support the culture. We offer health insurance, offer well-being and mindfulness initiatives,time off, flexible work arrangement, and regular feedback sessions.
People are at the core of Ennoventure, and the effort always is to make our workplace healthier for our ‘ennovengers’.
Naman Shah, CEO & Founder, NowPurchase
Saritha Kunder, HR, Granicus
“Our employees are our topmost priority, and we aim at helping them lead a healthy and fulfilling life, not only physically but also mentally. We have crafted our benefits with the objective that the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees is paramount.
At Granicus, we practice “Wellbeing Wednesdays”. Through our Wellbeing Wednesday initiative, Granicus makes the collective effort to reduce work fatigue and give employees time to recharge with 1x global Unplug Day per quarter and 2x No Meeting Days per quarter. Additionally, Granicus provides a Premium membership to Headspace for meditation and mindfulness practice. The new world has highlighted the importance of mental health support not only for the employees but their families too. Granicus also provides confidential emotional support through Ginger App which is on-demand mental health support 24/7 at no cost to employees and their families (over 18 years of age). They have unlimited access to behavioral health coaching via text-based chat and skill-building exercises
The annual wellness allowance at Granicus is created to appreciate the commitment of employees to Physical health. We want the employees to make the best use of this allowance in the way that suits them best. It can be used towards gym memberships, personal trainers, group classes, home exercise equipment, and more.”
Suzanne Kinner, Vice President, Human Resources, Black Hawk Network
“Employee health and wellness have always been important aspects for employers; however as macro conditions continue to impact our lives, the emphasis on employee mental health has grown in importance over the last several years. It is the responsibility of all leaders to encourage the overall well-being of their employees, and to understand the role mental health plays in promoting a healthy work environment and culture. At Blackhawk Network, we believe in the holistic well-being of our people and empower employees to blend health and wellness routines with their work schedules and activities. In our efforts to strengthen organizational trust and foster workforce resiliency, we continue to communicate frequently with our employees and create an environment where they feel comfortable about having open and honest conversations on any matter including topics of mental health.”
Sudhindra Holla, Director, Axis Communications, India and SAARC
“The pandemic has in many ways acted as a catalyst to accelerate significant conversations centered at the importance of mental health in all beings, especially employees. Reports by reputed institutions proclaim that 85% of any workforce believe that the organization or their employer plays a pivotal role in supporting the emotional and mental health of the employee, driving principal development and growth. It is in fact, one of the major factors that, make up a holistic working environment and one of the foundational organizational objectives.
At Axis Communications, our priority is in building a wholesome, robust and an all-encompassing environment with progressive employee engagement activities. For instance, we have Fika, a Swedish term for conversation over coffee enabling local & remote participation of employees. We also conducted R U OK Day across our branches in India to bring awareness of mental health and to encourage more empathy & compassion at workplace. This initiative is also to check on the emotional & mental well-being of employees and to encourage a conversation with a fellow colleague if somebody is feeling low. Axis has many more sustained efforts to eliminate mental or emotional upheavals, imbalances, or any work-place related burnouts.
We believe that the onus is on every organization to respond with compassion and support the voice of the employees through active assistance and mentoring.”
Narayanan Vijayaraghavan, Head – HR Platforms, Compensation & Benefits, Fidelity Investments India
“At Fidelity, the mental well-being and emotional health of our employees is paramount. While this has been our long-standing focus and priority, we have seen a lot of proactive employee participation in our programs especially over the last two years of the pandemic and the uncertainties that came with it. Today, even as we focus on enabling the return to office for our employees, we continue to place a high priority on emotional and mental wellbeing. In addition to the regular programs that we run all through the year and our ongoing policy enhancements, we are encouraging enhanced collaboration among employees at the office by offering them facilities that enable these connects that they would have missed during the last two years.
We also offer voluntary coaching and mentoring programs for our employees, so that they can access guidance from senior leaders across the organization that can help them thrive in their professional situations. Our belief is that as employees experience the positivity and power of connect and collaboration at the office as well as virtually, it would lead to increased satisfaction and a greater sense of fulfillment for them.”
Ankita Sharma, Vice President – Human Resources, Great Learning
“Mental health and well-being are a collection of subjective experiences that contribute to an individual’s quality of life. It’s heartening to see that talking about mental health and addressing mental health concerns is no longer bound by the stigma of closed doors. For an organization that cares for its people, providing a safe space for them to be able to talk , without any reservations is the least that can be done.
At Great Learning, we give immense importance to the well-being of our employees and hence have collaborated with the wellness platform Yourdost to provide our employees to connect with counsellors throughout the week in their preferred time slots. The discussions range from self-improvement, career & academics to relationships and even psychological disorders. It’s also encouraging to see that more employees than ever before are using this service, thereby breaking the barriers of existing taboos. We at Great Learning very firmly believe that to win in the marketplace, you must first win the workplace and to be able to excel there and build a rewarding employee experience, you need continued and concerted engagement efforts with the team”.