Prakriti Poddar has been working in the area of Mental Wellness since 2000. A Mental Health Entrepreneur, with a passion for innovation in the ecosystem. She mothers three organizations in this space, apart from her consulting practice. As the Managing Trustee of Poddar Foundation, Prakriti focuses on raising awareness of mental health issues and creating preventive mental health programs for the Nation.
Workplace wellbeing encompasses every aspect of employees’ working life, starting from the safety of the environment to how they feel at work to their physical and mental health.
As compared to traditional wellness programs, today’s workspaces are revolutionising their corporate wellness programs to offer holistic wellness benefits to their employees and keep them happy. However, despite the shift in focus, many employers still fail to acknowledge the need for wellness programs to be a part of their work culture. According to a Gartner report in 2019, 87 per cent of employees complained that they weren’t fully satisfied and happy at work.
With things taking further adverse turns with the onset of the pandemic, mental health issues have become a key concern for employers. Remote work struggles, isolation, lack of social connection, fear of infection and loss of loved ones have been the greatest stressors of mental health issues among employees. According to a survey by LinkedIn, more than half of India’s (55%) employees are feel increasing stress at work. Therefore, it’s imperative that corporates invest in employee mental health and keep it at the forefront of their wellness initiatives.
Why Mental Wellness needs to be a Key Focus for Organisations
There’s no doubt in the fact that awareness about mental health is rising among corporates but still, there are issues pertaining to discrimination and stigma surrounding mental health. Creating a positive work culture where mental health is openly talked about is critical and is the need of the hour for organisations. Here’s why:
Improved Engagement and Productivity
People who are physically fit, tend to be healthier. The same applies to mental health. People who are exposed to chronic stress in their daily work have a significantly higher chance of developing depression or anxiety. When companies invest in the mental wellbeing of their employees, it makes them mentally resilient to all kinds of stress. This can improve decision making, thinking, relationships at work and workflow. All of these factors can contribute significantly towards better performance and productivity. Studies have shown that when employees are happy, productivity can increase by as much as 12 per cent.
Reduced Risks and Costs
Promoting mental health in the workplace is also a wise decision in terms of financial gains for organisations. Companies that effectively invest in mental health witness reduced absenteeism, disability claims and improved productivity. Dozens of studies have shown that carefully organized employee mental wellbeing programs reduce absenteeism rates for 78 per cent of employers. This in turn saves $3.27 to $6 on resulting costs for every dollar spent.
A healthy work environment also motivates employees and keeps them engaged with an organisation for longer periods of time. Without the implementation of such programs, the chances of burnout or stress can cause organisations to lose $125 to $190 billion annually.
The stigma around mental health can be described as the negative attitude or view towards people who are struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. This can lead to discriminatory behaviour, harassment and even affect people’s beliefs and attitudes towards those suffering from mental health conditions.
By learning more about mental health, managers can create a positive working environment, minimising the risk of mental health issues like job stress. Workplaces that encourage and support the mental and emotional health of their workers can increase help-seeking behaviour. Providing resources to promote awareness can also help create a workplace that fosters engagement and attracts better talent.
Early Prevention and Treatment
With the help of employee mental wellness programs, corporates can help in the early detection, prevention and treatment of mental health disorders among employees. Early intervention is the process of offering specialist intervention and support to employees experiencing or demonstrating early symptoms of mental illness.
It is important to remember that majority of employees around the world spend nearly 60 per cent of their time at work. They have to constantly deal with numerous stressors like tight deadlines, worries relating to job security, personalities and behaviours of co-workers, management styles and much more. This can cause employees to feel stressed and overwhelmed with the pressure which ultimately leads to the development of anxiety or depression. However, early prevention steps can be taken to ensure that mental health disorders among employees are taken care of in the initial stages. By promoting increasing awareness, providing early interventions, fostering healthy lifestyles and providing effective stress management and mental health programs, employers can respond early to the warning signs of mental health issues.
A comprehensive mental wellness program in the workplace can not only improve employee health but equally contribute to an organisation’s bottom line. Though it doesn’t work like magic and takes away all the worries but it effectively promotes a culture where mental health is recognised and given its dues importance in the work culture. With time, it can turn into an effective employee wellness program that can address numerous issues related to the mental wellbeing of employees.