No two days are alike in the office. With recent, ground-breaking developments in technology, industries and workplaces across are scrambling to adapt and move with the times. When employees can’t find themselves contributing to the business or organisation’s vision or objectives, they are asked to pack up and leave. Some who are lucky are enrolled into upskilling and reskilling initiatives.
As the economy turns for the worse and attrition rates along with stress and anxiety see an all-time high, employees are finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. For those working remotely, trying to find the fine balance between home and work life is becoming more and more elusive. On the other hand, those returning to office campuses have the added misfortune of commuting to work and back, wasting hours of their day.
Census 2011, India data shows that among 140 million workers, 30 million travel more than 10 kilometres while 17 million travel more than 20 kilometres. In between all of this, employees are feeling increasingly isolated, even within teams and at home. If organisations are to thrive, they must invest in employee mental wellbeing programs and initiatives, and employees themselves must be open to addressing these issues head-on.
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5 Ways to Enhance Employee Mental Wellbeing
- Give employees flexibility
McKinsey’s third edition of the American Opportunity Survey reveals that 58% of the respondents had the opportunity to work from once a week while 35% had the option of working from home five days a week–whether they were employed in white or blue-collar jobs. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that employees prioritise their comfort and safe space. In fact, 87% of the respondents said if they had flexible work options, they would gladly subscribe to them.
While offices around the world are preparing to open their doors and are asking their employees to come back, it may be counterproductive. The Future Forum Pulse Report Fall 2022 shows that workers with a flexible schedule reported 29% higher productivity and 53% greater ability to focus than those with rigid schedules and no room for movement. If organisations are turning a blind eye to data that speaks volumes, they may find themselves moving backwards.
- Better workspaces
For those who choose to leave the comfort of their den and make an active effort to go to work, it’s important that they feel welcomed. It is estimated that 490 million people suffer from a vitamin D deficiency in India–often causing mental health problems like high levels of stress, anxiety, depression-like symptoms, and mood swings. For others, it reveals itself in fatigue and exhaustion.
Office spaces must be well-lit with ample sunlight streaming indoors and natural air to make breathing more comfortable. Ergonomic chairs and height-appropriate standing desks can also be a game-changer. Bright, shiny lights across the office may look like a grand idea but warm light is best for the eyes and significantly less harsh.
While you’re at it, throw in some plants as well. We know we could use some greenery around us. A study published by the National Library of Medicine shows that actively interacting with indoor plants can reduce physiological and psychological stress.
- In-house counselling
It is now not surprising how employees and workers across the world talk about how their stress and anxiety levels shot up during the pandemic. Grappling and adapting to the new reality that was thrust upon us wasn’t easy for anyone. As we learned to adjust to our new lives, we forgot how to be kind to ourselves. Stuck in the confines of our homes and balancing home life and work life the best we could, most of us couldn’t cope and further retreated into our shells of isolation.
If organisations are truly looking for ways to enhance mental wellbeing, they must offer in-house counselling and therapy sessions–and all of them must remain anonymous. Employees can benefit from regular awareness sessions as it also provides them with a safe space for necessary downtime. Other initiatives like yoga and meditation sessions can help elevate employees’ lifestyles while corporate social responsibility initiatives can help them find purpose beyond work.
- Clarity and openness
Interesting research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania explores why employees don’t feel comfortable speaking up to their managers, even if they may have a lot to say. An employee’s silence isn’t always attributed to how introverted or extroverted they are, nor does it always have to do with how a manager treats an employee. Many employees often speak up to help their colleagues or teammates, even when the fear of being silenced looms large.
If employee mental wellbeing is to be a priority as it should be, organisations must take active measures in ensuring that employees across all verticals are given a safe platform to speak up without the fear of being silenced or judged. Transparency in the workplace must begin with leadership and management teams involving every employee as it helps build trust and also helps employees align with organisational strategies and objectives.
- Two sides of the same coin
The onus doesn’t just rest on the company to make employee wellbeing a priority. Employees, too, must make efforts to bring their best and whole selves to work every day. Whether that is by eating right, following a healthy routine, keeping a tab on their mental health and of their colleagues, or learning new skills to contribute to the organisation’s growth, they must prepare for what lies ahead. After all, no one can force wellness on those who don’t embrace it or keep an open mind. Help goes both ways–those who offer it and those who are willing to receive it with gratitude and without bias.
The corporate world can be a scary jungle. But with the right set of tools, with help and wellness initiatives, it doesn’t have to be as scary. Organisations worldwide must ramp up their employee mental wellbeing initiatives and employees themselves must make an effort to accept help when they need it.
- Five golden mantras for corporate employees to stay healthy at work | The Times Of India | December 10, 2022
- How India Commutes To Work | India Environment Portal | Census 2011, India
- Americans are embracing flexible work—and they want more of it | McKinsey & Company | June 23, 2022
- Executives feel the strain of leading in the ‘new normal’ | Future Forum Pulse Report | Fall, 2022
- Vitamin D status and determinants in Indian children and adolescents: a multicentre study | Scientific Reports | October 06, 2022
- Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults: a randomised crossover study | National Library of Medicine | April 28, 2015
- Distinguishing Voice and Silence at Work: Unique Relationships with Perceived Impact, Psychological Safety, and Burnout | Academy of Management Journal | February 18, 2021
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