Are You Taking Care of Your Employee's Mental Health?
Mental health is often overlooked by employers
In the start-up world, the pressure to meet deadlines is always lingering upon you. As an entrepreneur you are always running pillar to post, trying to get everything done at once. So it is but natural that you turn to the support of your employees. It's not an uncommon sight to see employees in a startup working till wee hours of the morning or sometimes even spending nights at work.
But in such scenarios, it's also important for the entrepreneur to sit up and take note of his/her employee's mental well being. Mental health is often overlooked by employers. So, when you do hear of employers being empathetic and acknowledging the importance of a leave for mental health, it even makes for viral stories on social media.
Entrepreneur India spoke to startup founders about the importance of mental well-being and how they can ensure the same for their employees.
Recognize The Need
The most important thing for entrepreneurs is to actually note the need to implement mental health awareness programs within office. They have to understand the importance of mental well being themselves in order to propagate the same at work.
Archit Gupta, Founder & CEO, ClearTax said that the most crucial step that startups need to take is to recognise signs of mental health issues in employees and timely intervene. "Mental well being of employees plays a major role in overall company productivity as well as maintaining conducive work environment and hence should not be ignored. At ClearTax we ensure teams share a great camaraderie and employees have open discussions with their team leaders," he said. He added that by following this practice people share their problems without the fear of judgment.
Being judged is one of the most common yet important reasons why people fear to speak about their mental health issues at work. But as the awareness increases, organizations too are acting the right way. Sanjeev Bhatia, Co-Founder, Onlymobiles.com believes that organizations should make efforts to increase awareness about mental health and normalize the idea that mental health is no different from physical health. "Fortunately, a few companies now realize that taking care of their employees' emotional health helps them as well as the organization's bottom line," he said.
And this brings us to what entrepreneurs can do once they realize the need for mental well being of their employees.
Spread Awareness and Build a Conducive Environment
Corporates and startups should make their employees feel at home and comfortable to share their thoughts or talk about what they are going through. Bhatia believes that in recent times, corporates have been taking proactive measures to raise awareness about mental wellness through forums. "They are creating avenues where employees are encouraged to share experiences, and where depression is not perceived as a personal weakness," he said.
Depression creeps in slowly, and the symptoms aren't easy to gauge, which is why it tends to go unnoticed. Therefore, prevention is better than cure. "Organisations can do a lot proactively to provide a conducive work environment, and create awareness around mental wellness, so that people don't hesitate to talk about it. Companies need to tackle depression by nipping it in the bud, to ensure the overall wellbeing of its present and future workforce," he said.
One of the most important factors of anxiety or stress is the fact that many employees are overworked. Work-life balance goes for a toss and they are often at a loss because of the same. Gupta said that to help their employees relax, they have plenty of mobile workstations, open spaces and recreational outlets that go a long way in helping people bond and unwind. Flexi work timings and work from home policy has helped employees manage their work-life balance better and has reduced stress to a large extent. "We always welcome our new employees enthusiastically and have a " buddy system" where team members ensure the new joinee gets accustomed to the environment easily . Apart from this we ensure every person is well equipped to handle their job, has flexibility and independence in handling projects and gets regular mentoring and guidance about their careers," he said.
It's important to build a friendly work environment. Amjad Khan, founder and CEO, Milestone Media said that the work culture and the work environment that we live in every day except for weekends has to be something that is kept jovial and communicative. "This only facilitates less stress and more productivity. This, in turn, keeps the team mentally fit to be satisfied with their lives and deem fit for more aspirations and ambitions," he said.
Get Professional Help Onboard
Another impactful way entrepreneurs can help is by involving professionals who can help their employees. Bhatia said that nowadays several organisations provide professional help in the form of internal counsellors, doctors and even formal external employee assistance programmes (EAP), to help such employees. "Some companies also organise mood-elevator sessions through webinars. The sessions help gauge the mood levels of employees. For instance, "on top of the mood' employees will be wise, optimistic, passionate, compassionate and creative, while those on the other extreme, will be frustrated, judgemental, irritated, defensive or anxious. The employees seen "below curious' levels are advised to take a break," he explained.