How businesses can support employee mental health amid a raging pandemic

Multiple factors contribute to employees feeling frustrated and stressed while working. However, organizations and employers must take steps to keep their employees happy so that their mental health can also be taken care of.

There is no doubt that employees across the world are grappling with mental health issues, even surveys and data suggests so. (Representational image)

By Nakul Mathur

There is no doubt that across the world mental health is a very hushed up issue, less sensitization and less awareness is one of the reasons that exacerbate this situation. But one of the most important issues that gets ignored but needs immediate attention is employee’s mental health. There is no doubt that employees across the world are grappling with mental health issues, even surveys and data suggests so.

In the survey, the respondents point out that ‘balancing work with personal needs’ (34 per cent), ‘not making enough money’ (32 per cent), and ‘slow career advancement (25 per cent) are the biggest factors affecting the mental health. Other reasons that have been attributed are behavioral pattern from the boss, subordinates, colleagues, etc that can cause significant mental and emotional harm and physical harm in some cases too.

LinkedIn, in the recent past, launched a special edition of the Workforce Confidence Index focusing solely on mental health to highlight the prevalence of work stress in India. The survey was conducted across 3,881 professionals between July 31 to September 14, and nearly 55 per cent of the respondents reported that to be feeling stressed at work is almost a luxury.

Given the worsening scenario of the aspect of mental health over the period of last eighteen months, respondents point out that ‘balancing work with personal needs’ (34 per cent), ‘not making enough money’ (32 per cent), and ‘slow career advancement (25 per cent) are the biggest factors affecting the mental health. Multiple factors contribute to employees feeling frustrated and stressed while working. However, organizations and employers must take steps to keep their employees happy so that their mental health can also be taken care of.

What does a business need to support an employee’s mental health?

Freedom For Conversation

In the majority of workplaces in India and across the world, employees are considered enslaved; they are expected to deliver and then leave the premises. But for ideal workplaces and businesses, it’s mandatory to impart freedom to your employees to talk, converse freely with their superior, to debate on the themes and subjects of their choice and to speak their heart out.

Freedom to talk, freedom to put forward their views, and freedom to embrace their style of working are crucial for keeping your employees sane and mentally sound.

Interactions and Events

The atmosphere of any office, business, and workplace should be employee friendly where bosses go down to understand what are the views and problems of its employees. By arranging events, the degree of interactions can be raised. The events should cover every aspect of employee-employer relationship, from Diwli celebrations to an event sensitizing employees about sexual harassment laws, mental health issues etc. Just to keep the mental health of your employees on priority, try to understand the problems of the employees, try to fix them and get back to them to get the feedback on the resolution.

Accommodative Policies

The policies concerning employees should be flexible and should be rigid. The output should be considered more important than the time spent on it. Employers should not force an employee to work for 9 hours in a shift, if he is delivering better results even working for 5 hours in a day. HR should keep a communication line active with all the employees, should talk to them every week and discuss every aspect related to work. Flexible policies make the work environment conducive for growth and keep the toxicity at bay.

Make Your Employees Feel Important

Employers can’t let the employee work in silos. The employer should make the employee feel important so that he has a sense of ownership. Every employer should take employees out for a leisure time, and make them feel special and crucial for the organization. This sense of ownership lets them work harder and to their best. In addition to this, good work should be rewarded and appreciated through various means. These kinds of small steps make a person happy at the workplace and keep him sane.

Inhibition Free Environment & Feedback mechanism

Bosses and supreme authorities should try to establish an inhibition free environment, an environment free from any hierarchy etc. An employee should feel free to walk into the office of his boss and top authority without any inhibition. Also, a mechanism for taking timely feedback on policies concerning them is very important, suggestions, feedback can be utilized in making and shaping better employee friendly policies. Also, a concrete grievance redressal mechanism should be there, where an employee can anonymously file his complaint that should be resolved in a time-bound manner. These steps make a happy workplace and keep your valuable employees happy.

(The author is Managing Director, Avanta India. Views expressed are personal and not necessarily those of Financial Express Online.)

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