Creating the Perfect Work Environment: Employee Mental Well-Being
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In order to awaken your best life, it’s important that you “die while you are alive.” Most people live as if they have all the time in the world. They wish they had more time in their days and yet they waste the time they have. They put off living until some event in the future occurs. In order to awaken to your best life, every day should be lived as if it were your last day on the planet.”
― Robin S Sharma, Daily Inspiration from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Mental well-being refers to the holistic union of the three indivisible components of life: the mind, body, and soul. The positive synergy of these three elements unleashes our true powers and potential in a peaceful and natural manner. Mental health thus stirs from within where meditation can help identify and fuel our own sources of energy. As Indians, we have historically possessed powerful cultures where yoga and meditation were regularly practised. However, we have visibly failed in harbouring this powerful culture which has been evident through recent studies.
India is on the brink of facing a mental health epidemic with about 57 million people affected by depression – which adds up to about 18per cent of the total world population suffering from the condition. Majority of those with this condition are part of the Indian workforce with an ASSOCHAM study indicating that about 42.5per cent of Indian employees in the private sector suffers from some form of mental health issues. In addition, Indians spend an average of 52 hours a week at the workplace which results in daily mental and physical stress, decreased work satisfaction thus affecting the overall life of employees. They thus have to juggle overwhelming pressure on both professional and personal fronts which deteriorates their health over a period of time.
Mental health issues among employees are like a dormant volcano that may erupt any day. In a country where any form of mental illness is still stigmatized and considered taboo, the responsibility lies in the hands of employers to address this at the earliest. While India is making progress by leaps and bounds in all areas, there still remains a need to close the gap between employers and their workforce on mental health issues. A gentle offering to acknowledge, listen and support in a sensitive manner and putting in place programmes that can take away their stress is the need of the hour.
Turning Over a New Leaf
There have been some fascinating examples of individuals who have crawled from the depths of despair to go on and conquer the world. For instance, Robert Downing Jr had fallen prey to substance abuse since his childhood days when his father used to give him drugs. His multiple arrests, court dates and a brief stint in prison led him to join a rehabilitation program in 2001. He has stayed sober since and is worth over $300 million today. He is a brand in his own right who has credited his revival to meditation and yoga along with the support of his wife and children.
Eric Clapton is another example who has spent nearly $16,000 on substance abuse each week. He went to rehab in 1986 and has hence attributed his salvation to music. In his case, music has been his method of meditation. This goes on to show that the several forms of this stress-relieving technique can only bring out the best in an individual.
Ensuring Mental Health in the Workplace
Neuropsychologists feel that organizations must lead the way for their employees to be able to reveal the issues they face. One way to do this would be to engage counsellors. However, even before this, it is imperative to empathize and avoid labelling employees. Employers should ensure that they hold the integrity and trust of their employees in high regard which will encourage the latter to feel a sense of belonging and open up about what may be ailing them.
We have observed positive results where employee feedback has deemed that a firm work-life balance has been achieved. A drastic improvement in employees’ focus has been observed, leading to increased productivity; their cloud of stress had earlier hindered them to do so. Apart from this, it has been considered imperative to give back to the community by offering food and clothes to underprivileged children on a regular basis.
Some initiatives that can be taken for employee well-being include organizing fun Fridays, Zumba classes, and meditation sessions; offering provident fund schemes and bi-annual incentive plans, undertaking internal job transfers to ensure work satisfaction; and providing paid matrimonial leaves.
It ought to be acknowledged that everyone can fall prey to mental health illnesses. Instead of accepting this, many employers are still constantly in search of that ideal employee who is fit and productive in every aspect possible. This bubble needs to burst, and organizations must accept the beauty in the fact that humans are flawed and vulnerable – the very facets that make us complete. Investing in the mental health of employees will only add a new dimension to their productivity.