Good mental well-being is when we have a purpose, direction, and confidence that we can cope with whatever life throws at us. But just like our physical health wavers, mental health too goes through crests and troughs. We cannot truly solve a problem until we acknowledge it. Mental health and substance use disorders affect approx. 13% of the world population. Raising awareness about mental health issues is the first step to addressing it.
The need has grown by leaps and bounds during the current scenario. COVID-19 with its long-lasting disruptions across all sectors nudged organizations to take some tough calls. As a result, many of them had to either lay off, extend pay cuts or in some cases furlough some of their human assets. The uncertainty over the economic conditions, upended routines, extended isolation, anxieties, lack of socializing, and a demanding working environment has been silently impacting the psychological health of individuals in these times. According to a report published by the Statista Research Department, almost five percent of people reported having felt down, depressed, and hopeless nearly every day since COVID struck.
Fortunately, organizations across the globe were also quick to take note and step in to help their employees deal better. Raising awareness of mental health in the office is a part of fostering an inclusive workplace so that people can bring their whole selves to work. Also, the state of mental health of an employee correlates with their productivity and overall growth. The same holds for organizations, that are compassionate towards their employees dealing with such issues.
From launching engagement and L&D initiatives for furloughed employees in order to have them utilise this time in investing in their professional development to extending more paid leaves, organizations are coming up with techniques to ensure that the employees feel cared for and secured. They are responding quickly to recuperate the psychological health of their workforces.
Introducing Engagement Initiatives
No matter what the working mode or the status of the employee (furlough or active), organizations have been working on fostering a positive work culture. And it is imperative as it can prove to be an invaluable lifeline for keeping furloughed employees connected and engaged with the organization. Regular communication with the human resources and reporting managers, Town Halls conducted by senior leadership teams and vertical heads, communication to celebrate small personal milestones such as birthdays or work anniversaries, etc. are some of the channels to ensure timely & consistent communication and foster a feeling of being an integral part of the company. Not only this, there is a clear intention to utilize their time productively by enrolling them for online upskilling workshops. Launching various training modules for emotional intelligence, customer centricity, accountability, teamwork, and so on to ensure continuous learning of all employees are also some of the steps taken, along with live internal podcasts to keep the workforce connected as they work.
While the world’s leading technology solutions provider for the travel and tourism industry introduced all these initiatives for their workforce, along with a paid leave for an entire week post-Diwali, other organizations are ramping up measures to address distinct challenges their staff must be facing.
Employee assistance programs (EAP)
EAP is a great employee benefit that provides access to employees and their families to confidential resources to get help managing personal issues. It offers a plethora of services ranging from counseling and wellness to developing resilience and management.
A multinational pharmaceutical and life sciences company now runs a resilience program on the art of mindfulness for its employees. A professional service network company pioneering in the field of advisory, tax, and consulting services has a COVID crisis helpline in place that employees can access for any challenges they may be going through. There are numerous instances in play now that shout out that companies are taking holistic health very seriously, introducing spiritual programs for their workforce.
The road ahead
Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the world affecting approx. 284 million people. Unmanaged anxiety may result in fatalities. A recent study published in The Lancet warns against the many psychological implications of quarantine, as 29% of the quarantined patients of SARS suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders. The current outbreak has already had a larger effect.
It is positive news that organizations are recognizing the importance of good mental health. But just like employees are entitled to certain sick leaves per year to recover from any physical health condition, organizations can set similar criteria to help employees regain mental vitality as well. Maybe an entire week-off for ‘world mental day’ would help someone stressed take some time off and focus on what brings peace to them. Such initiatives must continue to address psychological health issues, and so the compassion until we make a dent in bringing these numbers down.