“Nearly 60% of employees feel anxious and just over half feel low in mood.
And whilst most employees do not report a current mental health diagnosis, nearly 1 in 4 met the criteria for ‘clinically relevant symptoms’ of anxiety and depression, suggesting they would benefit from further assessment and support from a qualified mental health professional.”
(Source: Champion Health.)
These worrying statistics are the easiest way to justify the cause behind this article. Talks on employee well-being are enough but how much are we really acting on it?
Employee well-being describes the mental and physical wellness sessions of employees and why it is equally important for the organizations to focus on improving it. An employee spends most of their day in a workplace. Hence it is the duty of the employers to ensure an environment of positivity and encouragement.
But how can we go about that? Our guests in The Shape of Work podcast, some of the top professionals from the HR fraternity, suggest some great measures they follow.
These conversations we have help us create an entire framework of the overall aspect of employee well-being and how to go about it:
A few things to keep in mind before creating a well-being plan
The first step is not finding the solutions
Rather, the first step is to make people comfortable about it. There should be more conversations around mental health at the workplace
Keep talking about mental health more and more. Talking about it once will not help. This is the ideal system Gauri Das (Head of Human Resources at India Factoring and Finance Solutions Private Limited) goes about.
There is a lack of awareness and stigma around mental health. People assume that regardless of how good the treatment is, it won’t be helpful. Hence, before offering solutions, it is first important to ensure that there is enough awareness about the problem. Organizations should keep reviewing their policies, and address mental health.
Employees should be allowed to take necessary time-offs solely focusing on mental relaxation. It comes from the leaders. Hence, leaders should be able to say, “I’m not feeling good”, “I’m not in a good mood today”, or “I have an emotional breakdown today, I’m not coming to work.”
This will help other employees to accept this form of reasoning more and understand that it is totally normal to feel this way. This sets the culture effectively.
Incorporating employee well-being as a design feature
“People are the pillars of our organizational success, so we take a lot of pride in taking care of our people.”Sunjoy Dhaawan, VP of HR at DHL Express India
Good physical and mental health is important to build efficiency and the productivity of the employees at the workplace. According to Sunjoy, employee wellness can also give a company a competitive edge, help in reducing absenteeism, and increase productivity and work satisfaction.
“Hence, employee health and well being is no longer an HR topic for us, it is a boardroom topic.”
Sunjoy’s organization took care of its employees through simple things like providing the right kind of automation services and IP tools to ensure that they work with ease during the pandemic.
Health insurance, wellness packages, and doctor services were ensured for the employees. They provided vaccinations to not only the employees but also their families. This was during the pandemic. However, their focus on mental health and wellness for employees has been going on since much longer. They have a program called “We Support” under their well being initiative, “We Care” program. It supports the employees as well as their family members in case they are stressed or facing any mental health issues.
So employees and their family members are free to avail any psychological help provided to them.
Understand that well-being initiatives need to be personalized
“The ultimate thinking of people are people, not resources – that is the first step”Dave West, CEO and Product Owner at Scrum.org
In smaller companies, well-being initiatives are more individual-focused. However, the problem with systemic well-being initiatives is that the bigger companies assume that everyone is the same. It is important to understand that different people need different measures to resort to. While some people can benefit from coaching, some feel better through being a part of a cohort group.
Mental well-being initiatives used by our guests
Fine-tune the existing policies
The onset of the pandemic highlighted the need to talk about the well-being of the employees. Swetha, HR Director at HackerEarth, explained that earlier, organizations as well as the employees would simply delay attempts to focus on this factor.
“As an HR person, I’m the happiest right here. I think, as an HR person, the importance of the needle has moved very quickly in the past two years.”
However, things are changing for the better now through the blurred boundaries between work and life. People don’t really have an option of deferring it.
What are some of the practices organizations can take in this space currently? According to our guest- the answer is – fine-tuning the existing practices/policies. For instance, revising your existing leave policies, encourage them to use their leave benefits if they feel drained or anxious, and create an environment where they can talk freely about it. Rename those leaves to “mental well-being leaves”.
Another measure that Shwetha talks about is Employee Assistance Program, that is, offering a host for all emotional and mental well-being conversations to the employees.
And lastly, simply creating a platform or a forum that allows your people to share their personal stories within the company. These kinds of practices have helped people of HackerEarth be more aware of these sensitive topics and acted as a support they can rely on. Hence, these practices are a good example every organization can adopt.
Money is not the solution each time
According to Rujuta, Org builder at Forage AI, the one way you should not use much to retain employees is through money. This has the tendency to sabotage their careers as sooner or later, companies will not be able to afford it.
Valuing their contributions and showing them the path to success is the correct way to go about it.
Going for strength-based leadership is probably the most motivating and positive way. Everybody should be made to feel that they are making a significant contribution. Hence, it is better to put people in different teams.
“Don’t expect everybody to run at the same speed or don’t expect everyone to be a bird. Because there are fish who are successful in water. And there are birds who are, you know, successful at flying. If you can identify who’s what you can retain and engage them easily.”
Explain why mental health is not a taboo
With the work from home scenario, companies are assuming that they can make employees work over the weekend. This needs to be changed at the earliest. A healthy work-life balance is essential.
Additionally, as the founder and CEO of Schbang, Akshay, mentions, mental health is still a taboo. Even today, no one is able to talk about it easily. His organization, Schbang, is highly focused on employee well-being. They tied up with a third party in-house therapist to whom people can reach out to anonymously.
Apart from that, they offer a two day mental health leave to their employees, conduct engagement activities, and offer monetary rewards as well.
Use tools to generate results
Vikas, Head of HR- IPG Dextra, is a strong supporter of employee engagement. He mentions that a survey on employee satisfaction every 3 months is not going to fetch results. Companies need to keep more frequent checks. He prefers the way of keeping a check on employee sentiment through chatbots daily.
Employee well-being stands to be a major essential towards organizational success. This culture comes from the top management and is followed by the employees. Hence, ensuring it is a major responsibility of the employers and leaders.