Article: How to build a mentally healthy workforce

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How to build a mentally healthy workforce

Multiple research studies point out that stress and anxiety are becoming a cause for concern in the workplace. Heres how you should tackle this problem
How to build a mentally healthy workforce

In today’s fast-paced, technology-enabled, and rapidly changing global work context, individuals enjoy the challenges of being able to achieve phenomenal career goals and unprecedented growth. But they also experience the stress that comes from navigating tough work terrains. Demanding and long hours, stringent standards for deliverables, rapid changes, and organizational structuring and restructuring leave individuals breathless from the thrills of achievement and struggles of meeting multiple demands and a bar that continuously shifts upwards. 

Mental wellness and the workplace

The workplace dynamics and the mental health of the workforce have a complex relationship. Work can often have a positive impact on the mental health of a person—job security, time structure, social contact, and organizational abilities elevate a person's state of well-being. However, adverse effects can wreck damage on a person’s emotional, physical and mental well-being. Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, psychosomatic disorders, diabetes, hypertension, heart attacks, elevated lipid profiles, allergies, digestive difficulties are just a few of the things that are reflective of the stress individuals are dealing with. 

Mental and physical health problems have an impact on employers and businesses directly. Increased absenteeism, disturbed interpersonal relationships, and increased errors create a negative impact on productivity and profit. Handling employee mistakes can also result in increasing company costs. In addition, they impact employee morale adversely. If people aren’t feeling well mentally, then they will not feel engaged or stay committed at work.

So are we saying that the Indian employee is stressed out? 

The data is significant.

  • Assocham reports that 42.6% of Indian employees are stressed. 

  • A recent study indicates the prevalence of moderate stress levels at 9.5% with most stressors that are work-related. 

  • 1to1 Help’s experience shows us that over 55% of those who took a standardized assessment experience depression, while 80% experience moderate to severe anxiety. 

What does this mean? There is a substantial number of individuals who are not able to adequately manage the stress they are subject to from multiple demands at work and their personal contexts, thereby experiencing depression and anxiety. 

Is there a solution? 

Leadership teams focused on meeting delivery standards and timelines need to create organizational contexts that are healthy, allowing individuals easy access to resources that promote and maintain adequate physical and emotional well-being. They also need to optimize the manager’s time by ensuring that it is spent on what their roles demand. When employees in a team have compromised wellness, the manager’s time and efficiency decrease as his/her focus shifts from meeting targets to helping people resolve individual conflicts.

It is therefore prudent that a leader turns to the experts to raise the wellness quotient of the organization’s workforce. 

The Indian help-seeking behavior is unique – there is a lower focus or acceptance of the need for preventive care and resistance to using help. Hence the wellness offering needs to look at how to overcome the resistance and get the individual to open up to it without succumbing to the all Indian concern of ‘what will people think’ and sliding into passive ill health. 

How can we increase the mental well-being of employees?

Here are four approaches:

  • EAP with its multi-pronged offerings of professional help is one such piece of a well-being initiative. 

  • You can offer both physical and emotional wellness resources. There is a lesser stigma attached to seeking help for physical distress, so leveraging a total wellness program helps people approach services more readily.

  • Train and sensitize managers and peers into recognizing early signs of distress and point people in the direction of the help that is available. 

  • Appeal to the Indian millennials that make up 64% of the total workforce. Tech-enabled, highly personalized wellness services available at their fingertips on their mobile phones – guarantee ultimate privacy.  

After 17 years of work experience, 1to1 Help – one of the leading players in wellness at the workplace, recognize that after all is said and done, the success of an EAP is contingent upon partnering with enlightened and influential leadership teams. Teams who recognize that stress does impact productivity and that EAP is the antidote for destructive stress and its negative impact on health and well-being.  

Learn more about 1to1help’s EAP services

Topics: Life @ Work, Corporate Wellness Programs

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