Thursday, February 9, 2023
HomeHealthBurned out? Why Indian employers need to act on employees` poor mental...

Burned out? Why Indian employers need to act on employees` poor mental health

Around four in ten Indian Indians suffer from elevated symptoms of burnout, distress, anxiety and depression, according to a research on workplace mental health by McKinsey Health Institute. The study was conducted between February and April 2022 in 15 countries covering 15,000 employees and 1,000 human-resource decision makers.

The Asia-focused results of the report showed that among the associated factors leading to poor mental health outcomes, toxic workplace behaviour remained a dominant one with approximately 90 per cent of participants citing it as a reason to leave their present jobs; this is at a level approximately 60 per cent greater than the global average.

Moreover, at least 41 per cent of Indians also believe a lack of separation between their work and personal life as a major stress-inducing factor affecting their wellbeing. The report states that Indian employers are currently facing a substantial problem of employees experiencing a burnout and stresses on the need to design a plan of action addressing such stressors at workplaces.

Mid-day Online reached out to Dr Preeti Parakh, psychiatrist and head, Mpower The Centre; Dr Sahir Jamati, consultant psychologist and psychotherapist, Masina Hospital and Ankita Mehra, diversity and inclusion advocate to understand how team leaders and senior employees can mitigate the mental health crisis at workplaces.

In addition to no work-life balance, how does discrimination on the basis of gender, caste, class and age in India at workplace create a toxic work environment for some employees?

Mehra: There are a lot of biases that people face at workplaces. People are judged on the basis of their language, especially their proficiency in English, which is considered to be a determinant of an employee’s talents and skills. Those with disabilities cannot access equal opportunities as others in a number of companies. Similarly, women and LGBTQIA+ candidates experience discrimination on a regular basis, whether it is in terms of hiring, interviews, leaves, access to basic facilities like washroom in the office, everyday interactions with fellow colleagues and other employment conditions. There is no efficient system in place to cater to the needs of these groups of employees. In such a situation, the struggle to navigate these difficulties has an impact on their mental health.

Jamati: There is a possibility that experiencing discrimination in terms of gender, caste, class and age can worsen stress levels of an individual. Moreover, long term discrimination-related stress can also be linked to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. When dealing with discrimination, an individual may experience hyper vigilance, lack of support, helplessness which can lead to triggering stress response and avoidance behaviour.

Those individuals having emotional support appear to have improved coping abilities with discrimination in comparison to those who experience stress without having any emotional support. Researchers have already shown a connection between chronic stress and poor health. Individuals who have to deal with long term extreme levels of stress due to discrimination or any other reason may continue to suffer from poor health.

What is the role of a team leader in ensuring mental wellbeing of employees?

Parakh: The role of a team leader cannot be over-emphasised in ensuring the mental health of the team members. Good team leaders are able to identify the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of the team members and can ensure that individual differences do not come in the way of working together as a team. Keeping the office environment relaxed and positive and motivating people to give their best can help prevent burnout and stress.

Jamati: Those who are progressive business leaders understand that better mental health of employees can lead to better overall organisational health. It is usual to witness loss of productivity due to absenteeism from work or unfocused mind during work caused due to poor mental health. Team leaders can provide emotional support and strength for their subordinates and foster a sense of autonomy in them. They can push for flexible work policies to better manage personal and professional aspects of life with less pressure. Leaders should put conscious efforts in tackling conscious or unconscious biases at the workplace by making it a part of their daily routine.

How important it has become for Indian organisations and companies to have in-house mental health experts/counsellors?

Parakh: Most organisations, these days, opt to have counselling services for the employees because they recognise how this can improve productivity and reduce costs related to absenteeism, burnout and attrition. The counsellors are often the first to hear when an employee feels that he is being discriminated against. They can work with senior level employees to counter the prejudices and also contribute to policy making to make the workplace inclusive and positive.

How can employers and employees come together to have a communication around mental health without stigma?

Parakh: We have found that workshops and similar activities on mental health enable people to open up on a topic which is usually considered a taboo. Role play is often used in workshops to help people understand what others are going through and also to teach them to cope with uncomfortable situations. Workshops on mental health should be a part of all employee assistance programs if the employers are interested in promoting mental health. If mental health issues are being discussed in a one-to-one interaction, the key is to be non-judgmental and empathetic.

Mehra: Leaders need to invest in conducting sensitisation and inclusion programs in their on-boarding programmes. They must ensure that previous mistakes or neglect should not be repeated. These programmes must also make people aware of their own privileges and the need for empathy towards marginalised groups. One must push for inclusive policies ensuring work-life balance of the employees, without compromising on their benefits. It is also important to hire people from groups, who face discrimination. It is a long-term effort and requires efforts from not only the human resources management team, but also from every other department and teams.

What are the ways in which individuals can navigate a toxic workspace at a time when there is a dearth of jobs in almost every sector?

Parakh: Toxic people thrive on the reaction they get from others. So you can deprive them of enjoyment by taking out the emotion from your reaction. What a bully loves most is to see the person being bullied squirm. What if the other person shows no pain or distress? The bully will move on to someone else. One also needs to establish clear boundaries and then adhere to those.

At times, engaging with toxic people and trying to understand what is bothering them might help. Above all, take care of your own mental health. Take frequent breaks and spend time with positive people. However, if all your efforts fail and your mental health is being impacted, then escalate the matter with seniors or HR, as applicable. Discuss in your complaint about how this person is affecting productivity of the entire team and give specific examples with evidence to corroborate the same.

(If you are suffering from anxiety and depressive symptoms, here`s a mental health helpline you can reach out to [email protected], +91 22 23828133, +91 97 02800044)

Also read: Ju-do better: Mumbai martial arts expert explains how judo can add to physical and mental wellbeing

Source link

Latest articles

The Best And Worst Movies With A Long Runtime

"If you watch it at a faster speed it's almost bearable.The, dialogue,...

Sorry PSG knocked out of French Cup by Marseille | Football News

Paris St Germain's miserable start to the year continued when they were knocked out...

NEW Lifetime Movies (2023) #LMN Movies | African American Movies 2023 Based On True Story#01

NEW Lifetime Movies (2023) #LMN Movies | African American Movies 2023 Based On True...

More like this

The Best And Worst Movies With A Long Runtime

"If you watch it at a faster speed it's almost bearable.The,...

Sorry PSG knocked out of French Cup by Marseille | Football News

Paris St Germain's miserable start to the year continued when they were knocked...