As Chief Human Resources Officer at IKS Health, Mr. Abhay Srivastava plays an integral role in building an environment conducive for professional growth and in creating a culture marked by agility, focussed execution, collaboration, empowerment and respect. He is extensively involved in developing and implementing talent strategies that will support high growth and realise IKS Health’s vision of becoming an organization that delivers insights. Abhay works closely with operations and foundational teams to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction. Abhay Srivastava has a rich experience spanning over 25 years in managing talent and spearheading team building policies.
While organizations have identified the urgency of creating frameworks that would help them tackle these situations, this is the time when organizations need to take up this cause from a two pronged approach of a top-down and bottom-up synthesis.
Amidst the chaos of new workspace dynamics, amidst the uncertainty of will this end – wont this end, amidst decisions to continue to work from home, come back to office, or overhaul the business models to suit hybrid workplace, organizations are forced to recognize the looming mental wellness challenge. The pandemic has played havoc with the minds of many people. It has fed anxiety, and led to fear psychosis in some cases. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 14.7% People at work face some kind of serious mental health issue. Another study states that upto 47% employees have experienced some degree of negative mental health during work-from-home. To address these staggering numbers, there are some key aspects that the human resources leadership can look at to make sure that while employees’ mental wellness is preserved and prioritized, it is also aligned with business objectives and the organization’s profitability.
Building Resilience Within Employees
The pandemic has taught us how important it is to be resilient. An important aspect of taking care of our employees is to make them resilient. Building resilience in our teams would help them recover from or adapt to fast changing and dynamic workplace situations. Additionally resilience can help with changes in the personal space. Thereby building inner strengths within our workforce that would help them overcome roadblocks, set-backs and aggressive changes more comfortably.Resilience would help the employees safeguard themselves from unforeseen changes, and would also allow them to take up challenges. This would help organizations prepare themselves for any future global calamities, in addition to helping employees tackle uncertainty more competently aiding improved mental health, productivity, and general well-being. Especially with growing organizations, fostering a culture of continuous learning is very important. This allows employees to identify opportunities and work towards innovative solutions, fuelling a growth mindset even in the face of adversity.
Mental health and wellness should not be constricted to being an individual’s sole responsibility within organizations. Especially now that the world has seen how important it is to have good mental health to be a fully functioning person. Workplaces can often be overwhelming for many people. Considering that we are still healing from the pandemic, work can continue to be imposing, stressful, and overstepping the work-life boundaries for many of us. The need of the hour at workplaces is a culture that encourages shared responsibility and collective awareness of mental wellness. Managers need to be trained to check-in with their team members, and understand any challenges or difficulties they may be facing with regards to their mental wellbeing. Organizations need to organize training programs that sensitize managers to have these conversations and pick up on the concerns, even if not overtly expressed. Organizations can develop programs that enable managers to manage any critical situation in a structured manner. Leadership is no more just about sharing targets and pushing people to achieve them. It has evolved into being more aware of the people you lead, and being involved in their overall well-being.
Safe Spaces at Workplace
One positive change that the pandemic has brought along at workplaces with regards to mental health is reducing the stigma surrounding the topic. While more and more people are comfortable speaking about and sharing their struggles with mental wellness, it is time that the leadership modifies their outlook towards their own liability in this aspect. In the past leaders were supposed to be invincible, and therefore were perceived to be ‘leaders’. However, in today’s time if a leader is comfortable with their own vulnerabilities, then they would be able to incite a feeling of equity, respect and assurance amongst their teams. Leaders should be encouraged to share their stories, whether it is feeling overwhelmed due to workload, stories of failures, or sharing more complex mental health issues. Consequently creating trust and safety for employees to come up with their stories/challenges. It is important for them to know that they would be taken seriously, and not shamed or judged for facing difficult situations with mental health. Organizations can also set-up trained volunteers who can be ‘safe space champions’, to listen to and provide a guiding light to these employees. Thus creating psychological safety for everyone involved.
Today the increasing awareness and growing need for mental wellbeing is being taken very seriously by organizations. Statistics show that the younger workforce is upto 3.5 times more likely to report/suffer mental health challenges. As organizations hire younger workforce and expand, they need to transform the way people processes are dealt with. Mental wellness needs more sensitivity and care, it also needs to be prioritized in the people’s agenda. Well cared for employees with optimal mental wellbeing are proven to be more productive, have positive sentiments towards the organization, and more likely to stay loyal. A well developed mental wellness plan will go a long way to improve employee outcome thus improving the organization’s performance.