Today it is well recognized that the mental health of employees is crucial to their overall health. Poor mental health and stressors at the workplace are a contributory factor to a range of physical illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions. Burnout amongst employees seriously affects their ability to manage their personal and professional lives meaningfully.
The onus of employee mental health well-being lies with the company, and its ensuing culture. When employees feel valued, cared for, and appreciated, the morale and engagement of teams increase. And creating a positive and enabling work environment, with a culture of positivity in place, boosts talent acquisition, and retention. Simply put, happy and healthy employees are the secret to a successful business.
Impact of mental health well being on work
Productivity loss, absenteeism, job abandonment, and higher turnover are directly linked to poor mental health. Research shows that people with symptoms of depression have a fivefold or greater increase in time lost from work compared to those without symptoms of depression, according to Jeffrey Kahn MD, and Alan Langlieb, MD.
Poor mental health and stress negatively affect employees’:
- Job performance and productivity.
- Engagement with work.
- Communication with colleagues & peers.
- Physical capability and daily functioning.
The World Health Organization has estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity, and for every $1 spent on treating common mental health concerns, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Mental health well being is likely to lower incidents of job burnout, violence, and workplace injury.
Employers are best served by raising employee awareness to the realities of mental health issues that can impact their ability to remain focused and productive. These issues include stress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mood disorders.
Work culture & employee well being are interconnected
Employers must acknowledge the cultural drivers that influence people’s resiliency and their ability to remain emotionally well at work. First, companies need to ascertain if their culture and work practices support the mental health and emotional needs of their employees. Then, communicate clearly that they care about each employee as a person, and are committed to providing the best working environment possible.
At Roadzen we acknowledge that our workplace is the base setting for imbibing a culture of health because communication structures are already in place. Our core values, organizational principals, and company policies come from one central source and cannot be compromised. Promoting mental health through agile and flexible working initiatives, evaluating organizational factors that could potentially contribute to work-related stress, and deploying specific interventions for identified stressors at the workplace is at the heart of Roadzen’s employee-first approach.
“We believe in the role of employers, employees and businesses in creating thriving communities. We believe in providing a workplace where everyone can succeed. It’s vital that we protect our values by addressing mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and for the workforce as a whole. Also, making our workplace interesting, social, and fun has enabled us to develop relationships that are positive and can become a source of peer-led support,” says Sanya Soni, Chief of Staff, Roadzen.
Flexible work hours at Roadzen have proven to help employees tap into their potential, and evolve a healthier work-life balance, as it supports a person’s innate working pattern by allowing them to start later or finish earlier. Other initiatives also go a long way in supporting employees such as providing a person with laptops, remote working support, work from home on a schedule, or flexibly, and allowing the setting up of alternative networking arrangements, according to each individual’s health requirement. Roadzen is also utilizing latest social media, and other digital tools to help people find and seek helpful resources.
An employer’s assessment of their organizational culture, and making subsequent changes are the key to creating a healthy workplace.
01 Productive Atmosphere
Clean, functional, well-lit spaces, and good working relationship amongst colleagues, wherein employees feel respected, appreciated, incentivized, and rewarded translates to a good, healthy workplace.
02 Inclusive & Open Culture
Zero tolerance for signs of intimidation, discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, and fear is a must. Fear of discrimination, and feelings of shame are among the top reasons for not sharing mental health problems with workplace peers. Hence, creating, and nurturing a workplace cultures where people can be themselves, makes it a safe space for people to speak about mental health concerns without fear, and easier for them to reach out for help when needed.
03 Work-Life Balance
With technology that allows connections around the clock, in all geographies; flexible work, travel, work vacations, and remote working, help workplaces evolve beyond the rigid nine to five routine. Building as much flexibility as possible into all employee schedules, and encouraging employees to use their vacation time, are essential to a healthy work place.
04 Open Communication
Being transparent and definitive about what the organization stands for is key. People inside, as well as outside of the company should have a good understanding of these core values. By keeping communication transparent, and creating an environment of open communication leads to a more energetic and productive workforce where all employees feel invested in the company.
05 Stay Connected
Creating opportunities for employees to build connections with each other through social events, affinity groups, and electronic message boards, helps maintain healthy relationships within a workplace. Such avenues allow people to share positive experiences and offer emotional support in tough times. Organizing lunches, knowledge sessions, post work hours groups or clubs, and regular team away days are simple steps that can create a wholesome work experience.
06 Safeguards Against Harassment
Addressing harassment at the workplace, through legal safeguards and effective grievance mechanism should be robust as corporate and legal policies. Encouraging staff to report any discrimination or harassment, and ensuring that discrimination on the basis of mental health status is as unacceptable as discrimination in relation to other protected categories of race, gender or sexual orientation.
07 Management Responsibilities
Valuing mental health and well being are core assets of any organisation. Apart from providing a comprehensive health insurance plan, there are several areas that managers should be particularly aware of. Ensuring that executives mention emotional well being every time they talk about recruiting talent, while building an inclusive culture, reassures employees, and encourages them to bring their best selves to work. Establishing a culture that values authenticity and openness, which is practiced from the top of the organization, encourages people to safely disclose any issues. Good communication aimed at reducing stigma, and increasing access to mental health resources is equally important.
08 Employee Accountability
Employees have to be willing to support each other as the management. Being open-minded about the experiences, and feelings of colleagues, responding with empathy, offering peer support, and encouraging others to seek help, make for a healthy work place. Adopting behaviors that promote stress management and mental health, such as taking the time to reflect on positive experiences, expressing happiness and gratitude, validating and recognizing contributions help teams stay positive.
09 Health, Wellness, & Self Care
Everybody’s mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can fluctuate as circumstances change, and through different stages of life. Hence, working towards personal wellness, and asking for help when it is needed should be inculcated. Further, being observant, aware and empathetic towards each other is needed. The earlier we are able to recognize that something isn’t quite right; the earlier support can be sought. At work, one might notice that they are more tired than usual, making uncharacteristic mistakes, feeling demotivated, timekeeping is slipping often, isolating oneself, avoiding company, and appearing distracted are some early red flags. These early warning signs might be hard to recognize in oneself, but a workplace of connected colleagues can help one recognize that our mental health needs attention.
Everyone in an organization can take steps to improve their own mental health, and build resilience to cope with inevitable adversities of life. Self-care is a useful skill that can be practiced, though it is not easy.
The evolving employee-first culture
Awareness of mental health is increasing, but we still live in a world where people with mental health problems face discrimination and face challenges in accessing the help they need. By addressing mental health issues and emotional wellness, employers are ensuring the overall health of an employee. Corporate wellness programs are continuing to evolve in the direction of mental well being, as much as physical fitness. With more attention paid to employees’ mental health, the stigma associated with it will start to dissipate. The development and implementation of a workplace mental health policy and program benefits the health of employees, increases the productivity of the company, and will contributes to the well being of the community at large. This has the potential of making everyone stronger, more productive, and happier.