World Mental Health Day: Organizations Improve Employee Wellbeing with Recreational Programs and Wellness Holi – Economic Times | Directory Mayhem

The world is moving at a rapid pace and people are increasingly choosing different ways to stay healthy and in shape. Staying mentally strong can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being.

The M-Barrier has also been broken in the workplace and organizations are now trying to create an enabling environment that promotes good mental health. Companies also bring changes at the political level. But are the (political) changes enough?

More conversations about wellness

While conversations about mental health in India were once confined to the confines of large private organizations, it has now reached almost every workplace. Support systems, access to mental wellbeing professionals, emphasis on work-life balance and mental wellbeing vacations are among the many initiatives organizations are taking to ensure their employees are physically and mentally healthy.

But how effective are these measures?

Rishabh Tandon, Director of Human Resources, Crowne Plaza, believes organizations and HR leaders have evolved when it comes to their approach to mental wellbeing. “HR leadership has raised awareness of mental health across the workforce. From associate-level colleagues to board members, everyone now has a wealth of knowledge in the field of mental well-being. Most advanced and evolved HR departments have adopted the expertise of EAP (Employee Assistance Program) services on emotional and mental health. The same applies to results through better work-life integration and appreciation of the workplace. Training and retraining will be critical to consistent victories in this area,” says Tandon.

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Today, more than ever, companies are prioritizing the mental health of their employees for a number of reasons, including increasing productivity and helping employees promote a balance between work demands and personal life. Organizations encourage employees to take appropriate breaks and engage with life outside of work. Several organizations have also initiated leisure and recreation programs aimed at promoting well-being.

“Employee well-being is one of the top priorities in organizations today as everyone moves from home to the office. With quiet quitting, productivity paranoia, absenteeism, presenteeism and attrition dominating the trend, employers have recognized that poor mental health directly affects employee productivity. As a result, conversations about destigmatizing mental health have become more important in recent years,” said Prakriti Poddar, Global Head, Mental Health, Wellbeing, RoundGlass.

pandemic mental health

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic also permeated the organizational structure with employees facing mental health issues. In 2020, a survey conducted by The7thFold, a wellness company, found that up to 36 percent of Indian employees suffer from mental health issues and up to 50 percent worry constantly about an uncertain future.

“The pandemic has played a significant role in the mental well-being of different generations of workers. Our workforce at Engaged Strategy is a mix of Gen Xers, Gen Ys and Gen Zs and the impact has been quite a learning curve for us in developing more empathetic HR policies. While Gen Xers and Gen Ys were quite happy with the changes brought about by the pandemic, our Gen Z employees felt pretty lost for the first few months. Their focus was divided, with some even feeling trapped within the four walls of their home due to the lack of social interaction. They looked visibly depressed and we found that this was having a significant impact on their facial expressions and job performance, which led to us taking serious action to ensure they got back on their feet sane,” says Linda Roberts, Head of HR, Engaged Strategy.

Increasing corporate involvement in mental health and wellness-related initiatives has also, in some ways, broken down many preconceived notions and taboos. This has sparked a positive chain of action as organizations that recognize the importance of mental health create much-needed awareness among employees and larger communities.

“To say that the past few years have been tumultuous for the entire world would be an understatement. However, the disruption and trauma we have all experienced together is not without a silver lining, as it has clearly helped normalize mental health issues in the workplace and somewhat reduce the stigma associated with them. However, much remains to be done,” adds Poddar.

The long road to recovery

While companies are taking note and engaging with employees in unique ways, it seems that the mental health struggles faced by employees are far from over due to the pandemic and the looming uncertainty.

Rahul Bhalla, co-founder and CEO of Latin Quarters believes the world is undergoing a cultural shift in terms of perspectives. While the psychological fallout from the pandemic has had a negative impact on employees, it has also, in some ways, given them the courage to face the situation.

“Post Covid-19, mental health is no longer taboo and employees are shedding their inhibitions about speaking to colleagues and management about a variety of personal and professional concerns. The psychological consequences of the pandemic have affected employees both professionally and personally. The shift from remote to full-time working model is still a struggle for employees, and adjustment issues worries everyone. The personal loss, as well as the professional setback in terms of compensation or job loss, has created a sense of insecurity among employees that is visible,” says Bhalla.

Developing an appropriate policy framework to ensure improved mental and physical well-being of employees will be an ongoing process for companies. However, small steps such as encouraging a positive team building exercise, celebrating professional and personal achievements, engaging in recreational activities with teams, internal counseling sessions, and timely employee feedback can have far-reaching effects on organizational growth.

It’s never too late to start a fitness program or practice mindfulness. Any activity that promotes mental well-being ultimately contributes to a productive and fulfilling life.

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