Nathan SV, Partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India on Mental Wellbeing of employees
Well-being has perhaps been one of the most popular words over the past many months. What does it truly mean to be well? In the 2020 Millennial Survey by Deloitte, 54 % Gen Zs and 57% of millennials in India said they were stressed all or most of the time. They were concerned about family welfare, long-term finances, and job prospects.
Many took time off work due to stress, though some of them told their employers it was for a different reason. This is a serious matter as over 50% of the majority of our workforce are stressed. There definitely is a lot that is keeping well-being elusive, even for our young workforce. The time is ripe for organizations to get acquainted with what can be done to address Mental Health.
- Physical well-being: It is strange that we have to come back to the adage- a healthy mind in a healthy body. Organizations have been looking at various programs on Yoga, Zumba, and the like. Such measures must continue. What works best is the peer group / small group that speak to each other on health matters. Exercises, eating right, and the like.
- Financial well-being: It is the most underrated of the cause of stress, the one that causes the greatest anguish. Many who have had financial stress in these times seek answers to how they can better manage their finances. Programs that help people with the planning of finance and ideas of managing their resources for the short and the long- term programs, go a long way.
- Mental well-being: One reason that we shy away from speaking about this subject is owed to misconceptions, social stigma, fear of being judged, or just plain ignorance. Organizations need to create a safe environment where it – it’s okay to not be okay. And we recognize it and empathise. Being authentic and caring. It is not every day that I am in the best of moods. Agreed. However, if this is a matter that happens for days on end, it will affect me for sure. Perhaps it is work, family, or a relationship. What is important is for me to recognize it. And I don’t. This is where the social systems of a family, friends, and co-workers come in. They can have a huge positive impact in getting the matter addressed. All of which starts with a conversation. An authentic conversation, a meaningful conversation.
What Can Be Done?
Encouraging managers and leaders to have frequent, candid conversations with teams and individuals, sensitizing employees on mental health, and recognizing signs of distress is the key. Have robust mechanisms to deal with high levels of stress, like say a Counsellors and Employee Assistance Programs all help. The one that works magic is the ‘peer to peer’ chat ! Nothing complex. For example, a recent internal initiative at Deloitte called ‘Each One Reach One’ encouraged colleagues to simply call each other up at regular intervals and ask each other two questions, “How are you?” and “What can I do to help?”
Mental Health is Personal
One size does not fit all and that is why it is different. It has to be personalized to each one, almost mass customization. The Deloitte survey found that while respondents have may have been working longer hours (something to worry about), an astounding 86 percent of millennials and 83 percent of GenZs said that WFH can relieve stress! Anecdotally we hear that working from home is stressful. According to LinkedIn’s #WorkforceConfidenceIndex, 42% of remote workers in India are concerned about working long hours and balancing personal/professional lives. Perhaps a hybrid model could work, something that a third of the organizations are looking to adopt.
A Sense of Purpose
Helping individuals seek their purpose can help. The scale is daunting. Giving can be stress relieving. Organizations would do well to reinforce this sentiment by offering virtual volunteering opportunities and slowly transitioning to in-person initiatives as the situation normalizes. Education and skill-building among underserved communities is definite area where young professionals can come in and ensure that the lack of a classroom doesn’t mean the lapse of an opportunity to learn.
Mental health will be a focus for a long time. The pandemic has just turned the spotlight on it.