Covid-19 has given rise to stress, worry and fear due to the changes to our daily lives, movements restricted and continuously being bound indoors.
By Neeti Sharma & Dr Aarti Jagannathan
Covid-19 has helped highlight the underlying mental wellness related challenges in the Indian corporate sector. While companies are working round the clock to align their efforts to identify and address stressors that directly or indirectly impact them, there still is a huge gap that needs to be bridged. Covid-19 has given rise to stress, worry and fear due to the changes to our daily lives, movements restricted and continuously being bound indoors. Unable to travel, meet family, friends and colleagues while managing work and homes have made a huge impact on the mental well-being of employees. It is important for each one of us to look after our mental and physical health. In such times, anxiety management is one of the key focuses of employers. It is an opportunity to collaborate and bring about initiatives that can help employees at all levels. L&D teams can create programs to answer these worries, and help employees be more efficient and productive.
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When was the last time you did something for the first time? Investing in a Hobby? Learning a new skill? Bringing in a sense of purpose and fulfillment, developing goal oriented work and engagement techniques, providing meaningful employment to the vulnerable population, learning a new skill, developing a support system are some ways to combat mental stress.
Considering the broad spectrum of mental health and illness, it might be more effective to focus on specific conditions tied to stress and burnout, such as depression and anxiety. Resilience Training should also accompany this mental health training and should focus on empowering employees with the skills to recognize when they’re experiencing stress and burnout and then work to reduce them. It is quite evident that workplaces also play an important role in defining an individual’s mental wellbeing. Factors like salary expectations, work-life balance, leadership style of the manager and anxiety over career growth are one of the top factors that add to mental stressors. At the end of March and in early April, a non-profit organization of HBR, Mind Share Partners, conducted a study of global employees in partnership with Qualtrics and SAP. It stated that the mental health of almost 42% of respondents had declined since the outbreak began. One silver lining of the pandemic is that it is normalizing mental health challenges. Almost everyone has experienced some level of discomfort. But the universality of the experience will translate into a decrease in stigma only if people, especially people in power, share their experiences. Intentionally checking in with each of your direct reports on a regular basis is more critical than ever. That was important but often underutilized in pre-pandemic days. Now, with so many people working from home, it can be even harder to notice the signs that someone is struggling. In our study with Qualtrics and SAP, nearly 40% of global employees said that no one at their company had asked them if they were doing OK — and those respondents were 38% more likely than others to say that their mental health had declined since the outbreak. Inclusive flexibility is about proactive norm setting that helps people design and preserve the boundaries they need. It is necessary to not make assumptions about what employees might need; as it so be that they will most likely need different things at different times. Taking a customized approach to addressing stressors, such as challenges with childcare or feeling the need to work all the time. Proactively offer flexibility. Now more than ever, companies should prioritize proactive and preventive workplace mental health training for leaders, managers, and individual contributors. Stress and Financial management stand crucial at this time, managers and leaders need to help their teams align with these goals- Financial Stability gives a sense of security and offer relief. We often forget to realise but doing mundane and jobs that don’t stimulate people can cause a lot of mental discomfort, employees are not happy if they are allotted to do jobs that do not serve meaning or are not of greater importance. With millennials joining the workforce, it is highly important for companies to take care of happy meaningful work culture formation.
Companies can invest in counselling their teams emotionally by investing in team building and group counselling sessions. Not only will these small steps at organisational level empower the employees, it will reduce their burn out by 70%. Employees are the company’s biggest asset and investing in them is the most crucial thing of all. It is important for leaders to take the driving seat, remove the roadblocks and promote culture that eliminates stigmas related to mental health.
(The article is co-authored by Neeti Sharma, Co-Founder and President of TeamLease Edtech & Dr Aarti Jagannathan, Associate Professor,Department of Psychiatric Social Work (Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)