Over the years, mental health issues have seen a steady rise globally, accentuated further by the onset of COVID-19. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for nearly 15 percent of the global mental health burden. To analyse the current state of mental well-being amongst Indian employees, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) undertook a survey titled, “Mental health and well-being in the workplace”, which compiled insights from 3,995 employees. The survey dives into the top stressors from an employee’s perspective, along with an estimate of the yearly economic cost to Indian companies arising from poor employee mental health.
Around 47 percent professionals surveyed consider workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health, followed by financial and COVID-19 challenges. These stressors manifest in multiple ways, affecting both the personal and professional facets of an individual’s life; often with associated social and economic costs. The report further estimates that poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around US$14 billion per year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition.
Presenteeism is the phenomenon of attending to work while under mental stress and hence, performing at low productivity. These costs build up over time and are incurred when poor mental health impacts how individuals deal with day-to-day stressors and are unable to thrive in their work environment.
According to the survey, 80 percent of the Indian workforce has reported mental health issues during the past one year. Despite these alarming numbers, societal stigma prevents around 39 percent of the affected respondents from taking steps to manage their symptom. Additionally, our survey found that at the workplace, 33 percent of all respondents continued to work, despite poor mental health, while 29 percent took time off and 20 percent resigned to better manage their mental health.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO, said, “Mental health has been a real issue. The challenges of the past two-plus years have brought conversations about mental health at work to the forefront. This study demonstrates that businesses must prioritise the mental health and well-being of their people. It is essential that senior leaders play a major role in destigmatising mental health challenges within their organizations.
“We need to take the necessary steps to create an environment where employees’ well-being is prioritised, and they have access to the support they need, so that everyone can thrive,” he added.
Adding to this, Charu Sehgal, Partner and Life Sciences and Health Care Leader, DTTILLP said, “Mental health-related challenges are not new to the Indian workforce, but these have come to the forefront in light of COVID-19, and a younger workforce that is open to speaking about their individual well-being. Not only is the number of impacted employees large, the degree of the challenge is also high, accentuated by performance-oriented cultures anchored in long and demanding work schedules, economic uncertainty, and peer comparison (especially on social media platforms).
“Employers have traditionally struggled to address this, as most employees feel uncomfortable speaking to their supervisors or talent teams due to the fear of retribution,” Sehgal said.