Embrace the coming revolution in mental health in the workplace, Health News, ET HealthWorld

By Dr Prakriti Poddar

Today’s workplaces have undergone drastic changes to provide a causal and fluid environment for employees where work-life balance is a top priority. Some organizations even allow employees to ditch traditional formal wear and come in from time to time wearing sportswear. However, while it is more responsive to issues faced by employees, one area that really needs attention is employee mental well-being. According to a recent 7thFold Employee Wellbeing India Survey, 45 percent of employees reported higher levels of depression and anxiety, compared to 30 percent of the self-employed. Combined with the uncertainty and disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are feeling stressed and reporting burnouts. This sends a clear message: Mental health issues in employees require serious support and help from employers to cope with challenges and reduce emotional exhaustion.

Why it’s more important than ever to focus on employee well-being

The pandemic has changed people’s lives in many ways, and employees around the world face depression, stress and anxiety for different reasons. The change in work culture has left the corporate world struggling with the growing number of mental health issues among employees.
Stress and anxiety among employees has been exacerbated by a variety of reasons, including the loss of a loved one from the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, continued work and household chores, financial instability and even more.

While the closure of offices has led to a growing acceptance of the work-from-home model, it has also blurred the lines between personal time and professional working hours. Taking action to resolve these issues has therefore become the need of the hour for organizations.

What must be done to promote the mental well-being of employees?

The mental health of employees in the workplace can be effectively addressed by organizational leaders and HR, allowing employees to reach their full potential. Here’s how:

Lift the stigma and lead by example

The past and a half years have brought new stress and uncertainty to people’s lives, further increasing the incidence of mental health disorders. To be committed to the health and well-being of employees, leaders must come out to break the stigma surrounding mental health and encourage open discussion. To respond quickly and adapt to the unique mental health demands of a diverse workforce, companies need to expand their mental health programs and help employees access resources. Apart from this, organizational leaders and HR should actively participate in employee sessions and share their perspectives on mental health.

Mental well-being must be part of the culture of leadership

Mental health has long been viewed as an organizational risk, focused primarily on managing incidents and individuals. However, COVID-19 has changed the equation forever. Just like physical health, mental health is a big reality and workplaces need to understand this and change their course towards mental well-being.

While many organizations are reluctant to start from scratch, it doesn’t have to be that way. Building on the collective years of expertise and experience in physical health, companies can develop powerful approaches and actions. Mental wellness questions can also be part of employee engagement surveys to understand the mental health status of employees in real time.

Listen, understand and support employees

People are already facing many challenges in their lives due to the effects of the pandemic. Many still face the loss of loved ones, their own health and mental health issues. In these difficult times, it’s imperative that employers listen to their employees’ concerns, understand their issues, and offer a helping hand without judgment or bias.

Empathy and compassion are no longer pleasant qualities but essential to better support the well-being of employees. Leaders need to talk to employees about their issues and challenges, which in turn builds employee confidence. Leaders need to be proactive with their programs and ideas and reach out to every employee in the organization so that they feel valued, supported, and know that help is available when needed.

Final words

Employee wellness programs are key to attracting the best talent, keeping them satisfied and happy, and reducing turnover and absenteeism.
The foundation of a healthy organization begins with employees in good physical and mental health; it protects the corporate culture. Thus, prioritizing the well-being of employees is crucial for growth and development.

By Dr Prakriti Poddar, Director, Poddar Wellness

(DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and ETHealthworld.com does not necessarily endorse them. ETHealthworld.com will not be liable for any damages caused to any person / organization directly or indirectly.)

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