Article: Startups need to have actionable steps to address wellbeing: Anshul Duggal

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Startups need to have actionable steps to address wellbeing: Anshul Duggal

"I strongly feel that any organisations, especially startups, need to clearly define employee wellbeing so that they can clear actionable steps in that regard.," said Anshul Duggal, CEO & Founder of
Startups need to have actionable steps to address wellbeing: Anshul Duggal

What is impacting productivity and wellbeing at work? 47% of employees and 58% of leaders in India report that they’re already burnt out at work, in a recent Microsoft study. 

Especially, in fast-growing organisations where the need to scale is crtical, employers and leaders feel overstretched. How can leaders find and create a balance?

Anshul Duggal, CEO & Founder of shares some ways to tackle the growing disconnect between employees and leaders. He also highlights some ways in which 

With trends like great resignation and quiet quitting prominent, how are you building a talent pipeline for a fast-growing organisation?

Whether it’s building a talent pipeline or retaining the existing teams, everything starts with creating an empathetic, nurturing, happy & motivating work environment. Businesses need to understand that the world we are in now and the world that was pre-covid is completely different and consequently, in terms of an approach to culture and environment - what used to work earlier doesn't necessarily work now. Problems like great resignation and quite quitting arise in an organisation when you push people to go back to the old way of working and on the other hand organisations which have adapted themselves to the new reality, these challenges are virtually non-existent. 

What are some innovative ways you are exploring to tackle employee burnout?

We at have been fortunate to have created a very open, honest and empathetic culture.

Something which is central to how we try and tackle employee burnout is to listen.

Listen not only to what the employees are saying but also have a keen ear for what they are not. Continuing to listen to the teams over time has helped us come up with a few ways to tackle employee burnout and fatigue. Mentioning the top ways below:

  • Unplanned Mental Health Days: We encourage employees to take Mental Health Days even if they are unplanned. There are even cases where it is difficult for employees to articulate or share that they want to take a Mental Health Day off and we are very accepting of that.
  • Mandatory vacation time: We encourage our employees to take vacation time and even mandate it in some cases. We are especially cognizant of intense workload periods and plan downtime accordingly.
  • Being accepting of ‘bad days’: As an organisation we try and inculcate acute empathy in our culture, which leads to everyone being aware of their ‘bad days’ and accepting of others. This not only leads to lesser pressures or burdens of expectations but also encourages helping fellow team members.  
  • Team chill sessions: Whether it is just a coffee or a meal together, or an elaborate offsite, there is no substitute for social connections. Especially important when people are working remotely most of the time.

What’s your take on the changing role of business and HR leaders of startups? What should be their key priorities?

The role of business and HR leaders in startups has evolved over the last few years. And I believe the single largest addition to the existing responsibilities is to care for employee wellbeing and happiness.

Traditional thinkers on the matter might opine that while employee well-being in a very general sense is already a part of their KRAs but happiness cannot because remuneration, quality of work, and recognition are supposed to do that already for them.

I disagree and strongly feel that any organisations, especially startups, need to clearly define employee wellbeing so that they can clear actionable steps in that regard.

To take care of employees' wellbeing leaders must take a focused approach to create a nurturing empathetic environment beyond the traditional levers like remuneration, quality of work, and recognition. 

Otherwise, employees will find another place, and rightly so, that does.

How are you sensitising leaders and educating them regarding mental health?

We have periodic workshops with the mental health professionals and leaders who are championing overall well being in corporate structures to help the leaders understand and appreciate the need and ways to achieve a better team mental health.

But there is no alternative to the biggest tool at their disposal, which is listening. Listening to things that are said and things that are unsaid by employees and do that periodically in order to have a better work environment.

As a business leader of a young organisation, how do you take care of your work-life balance?

As a leader it is very difficult to focus actively on work-life balance, especially when one is at the help of a young organisation.

Half the battle is won by being cognizant of the fact that what is rolled out as initiatives and guidelines for a better work-life balance and better mental health, applies to you as well!

The other half is controlling the urge to work beyond the work hours or on weekends/holidays. It takes a special kind of discipline to chalk out time for yourself.

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Topics: Culture, #Wellbeing, #SMEcorner, #Leaders Talk

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