Gaurav Aggarwal, Vice President & Global Lead, Avanade

Gaurav Aggarwal is a thought leader and strategist in Cloud and Digital Transformation with 26 plus years of experience. He is known for innovative and disruptive approach in driving Digital Transformation, developing scalable practices for Cloud, Application Modernization, Intelligent Experience, and IT outsourcing domains.

 

We are now slowly moving back to a normal life routine that we used to have pre-pandemic. Over the course of the last 18 months, we all witnessed an unexpected and complete transformation in our lives. It would be safe to say that since 2020, our lives have shifted from offline to online. 

Connecting with my peers and mentees, I realized how the adversities caused by the pandemic 

impacted negatively on the mental health of the employees’. However, mental health isn’t a new concept created by the lockdown. There are various other factors in the workplace that causes stress or increases the risk of developing/worsening existing mental health problems.

Mental Health and Workplace 

Mental health is the foundation for our health and wellbeing. It gives us the ability to cope with everyday pressures, manage changes in our lives. It is integral to living a healthy, balanced life. It is very important to care for our emotional and mental health as it’s a vital part of our lives and impacts our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. 

Our mental health encompasses our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. It also contributes to our decision-making process, how we cope with stress and relate to others in our lives. Being mentally fit promotes productivity and effectiveness in work, allows you to adapt to changes in your life and cope with adversity. Globally, mental wellbeing at workplaces is a growing concern for governments as well as businesses. Many employees are dealing with anxiety and depression in their daily lives because of situational, genetic, lifestyle, or biological reasons. 

Mental health problems at work are affecting employees on an emotional level and negatively impact many work-related areas. These problems are leading to:

  • Decreased productivity 
  • Decreased engagement with work
  • Poorer communication with co-workers
  • Decreased physical capability 

The negative effects of mental health challenges like depression are far-reaching in the workplace which makes it crucial for organizations to corporate mental health programs globally. 

What can give rise to stress at work?

There are certain circumstances at work that can cause or contribute to stress and subsequent problems of anxiety and depression. Research has highlighted a number of work-related factors that can negatively affect well-being.

  1. Job insecurity: Organized workplaces are going through seismic shifts under intense economic transformations. Reorganizations, mergers, rightsizing, etc. have become major insecurities for employees that lead to many mental health problems. 
  2. High a workload, impossible deadlines: Too much workload and unrealistic expectations, oftentimes, puts unhealthy pressures on the employee that can be a tremendous source of stress and suffering. Increased workload and extremely long work hours can actually leave an employee physically and emotionally drained. 
  3. Work-family conflict: Families are struggling to cope with an increasingly complex world. Individuals are struggling to find the right balance between work and family responsibility. Domestic issues can affect work where balancing work and home by allotting adequate time for both can help reduce stress.
  4. Difficult bosses: It is not easy dealing with difficult bosses. Especially when you work under a micromanager, it becomes very difficult to have proper communication with them to explain your situation. These types of bosses set unreal targets which makes it impossible to meet deadlines. 
  5. Relationship problems with colleagues: Dealing with a difficult co-worker can be a bit more difficult as their performance is often pitted against them. It makes employees feel lonely and with the work from home scenario, this problem has become from bad to worse. Many employees feel isolated and depressed due to relationship problems with their peers. 

Workplace Mental Health Solutions

  1. Increase Awareness: Companies should increase awareness about the importance of mental health through education and resources from national organizations or it’s even better to develop their own initiatives and programs that aim to encourage employees to reach out to superiors for help & to co-workers who appear to be in emotional distress.  
  2. Promote work-life balance: Work-life balance is a crucial aspect of a healthy work environment and managers must offer their employees flexible work options. Managing work-life balance helps reduce stress and most importantly prevent burnout in the workplace.  
  3. Organize team-building activities: A fun team-building event encourages teamwork, problem-solving skills, and bonding with all employees. Additionally, it can be an excellent time for all your employees to have fun, a great time to laugh and let loose. Making time for fun and humor in the workplace can be very helpful and increase workplace productivity, reduces stress, and trigger relaxation.  
  4. Offer support and employee care: Organizations should provide mental health services, may it be from third-party mental health counseling services. It can be individual’s therapy, couples therapy, group, or family therapy. If there are conflicts in the office, promote conflict resolution and do not allow the issues to blow up. 
  5. On Individual level: Employees should also take steps in taking care of their mental health with self-care. These can include activities such as:
  • Taking care of physical Health
  • Taking breaks
  • Asking for help

Summary 

In the workplace, the mental and physical health of each employee should be a priority. It is high time that employers, supervisors, the big bosses, or the Human Resource department, realize the importance of it and promote mental health awareness and stress management in the workplace.

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