Time To Include Healthy Workplace Program In Corporate Sector

Poor mental health costs Indian businesses a combined USD 14 billion each year, as per the Deloitte report

Stress of work can impact one’s mental health. According to the Deloitte research, employees rank work-related stress as the number one factor affecting mental health.

Poor mental health costs Indian businesses a combined USD 14 billion each year, the report adds. Globally it was even worse. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the global economy costs USD 1 trillion in lost productivity each year.

India Inc recognises Mental Health

The prevalence of mental health issues among employees is on the rise, with surveys showing that nearly 70 per cent of Indian professionals suffer from depression or anxiety. This has led to an increased focus on mental health awareness and initiatives by employers. Many organisations are taking proactive steps to ensure their employees have access to professional help in case of mental health issues.

India Inc drew a lot of attention to this during the pandemic. From awareness webinars, to mental health surveys and quizzes, to no questions asked spa vacations, to free access to in-house mental health advisors and apps, the message was clear - 'We take the mental health of our employees seriously.'

Ravinder Goyal, Co-founder of Erekrut HR Automation Solutions said, "India Inc has taken a big note of the mental health of its employees, recognising the importance of creating an environment that promotes and supports good mental health. Companies are providing helplines, mental health counseling, and other forms of support, such as stress management workshops, subsidised gym memberships, healthy meals, and flexible working hours. They may also be providing financial assistance for medical treatment, such as psychiatric evaluations and medication."

"Furthermore, employers are also encouraging open conversations about mental health within the workplace, helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. This is done through mental health awareness campaigns, mental health first aid training for managers and supervisors, and regular mental health assessments," he said.

Overall, India Inc has taken a big step towards ensuring the mental health of its employees and creating an environment that is conducive to good mental health. This is an important step towards reducing the burden of mental illness in the workplace, which can have significant impacts on productivity, morale, and overall wellbeing of employees.

Why is Healthy Workplace program important?

A healthy workplace is one where workers and managers work together to continuously improve the health, safety and wellbeing of all workers, thereby keeping the organisation productive.

Dr Nalini Saligram, founder and CEO, Arogya World said, "Workplaces have long been validated as platforms for wellness advancement and chronic disease prevention through the work of the WHO, many U.S. and European workplace wellness programs, insurance companies, and the World Economic Forum. A Healthy Workplace program is one which spurs company leaders to do more for the health of their employees, a program that gives companies a blueprint and roadmap for how to advance their employee health programs, that helps them value employee health as a strategic pillar of growth and that sets them firmly on the path of a data driven culture of health."

The ideal workplace program will vary depending on the specific needs of the organisation, said Goyal. However, some common factors that may contribute to a healthy working environment include: 1. Providing ample opportunity for employees to socialise and network with one another, as this can help promote camaraderie and a sense of community. 2. Encouraging flexible work arrangements, so that employees can balance their personal and professional lives. 3. Offering stress-relieving programs and initiatives, such as meditation and yoga classes. 4. Creating an environment that is respectful and supportive of employee voices and opinions, and which encourages open communication.

Therefore, effective workplace health and benefits programs can positively impact worker productivity and performance, as well as the health and wellbeing of employees, families and communities.

Who all can contribute to a healthy workplace?

While we talk of creating a healthy workplace, corporate sector can contribute with other organisations to provide need and help for their employee wellbeing.

Non Governmental Organisations - Dr Saligram said, NGOs can take a healthy living movement to the corporate sector. They can be valued knowledge partners to workplaces and can help companies realise the strategic importance of health and transform into healthy workplaces.

"Prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through healthy living is an essential component of sustainable development – and a must for India and the world to meet the SDGs.  This is where NGOs can play a role. They can help take the ‘healthy living’ movement to people where they live, learn and work, through a multi-pronged community-based approach – the doorstep health model.  Doctors and nurses in overcrowded, busy hospitals and clinics don’t have the time to give lifestyle change advice that is critical in preventing NCDs. NGOs, by providing a lifestyle change prescription in the community setting, can be a powerful ally in India’s fight against NCDs," she said.

CHROs of leading companies - Goyal said that collaborations and partnerships with leading organisations can create healthy workplaces by providing access to resources, expertise, and support that can help organisations meet their goals and objectives. CHROs can help organisations identify and address workplace issues, work collaboratively to develop solutions, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions, he said.

"Collaborations and partnerships with leading organisations can also provide CHROs with the opportunity to build relationships with key stakeholders and learn more about their organisations. This knowledge can help CHROs better understand the challenges and opportunities that exist within organisations and help them develop strategies that will improve workplace outcomes," he further said.

Leadership Engagement is the key

Dr Saligram said, "Leadership engagement is key for success. Companies must integrate employee wellbeing goals into their business strategy and make it a business imperative."

Policies must be aligned with employee wellbeing and healthy culture must be woven into the fabric of the organisation. It is encouraging that business leaders are investing in mental health programs at the workplace. We would like to see peer led training in more companies, mental health sensitisation for new employees during induction/orientation, more manager training to detect early signs of stress in their teams, plus systematic mental health screening.

When employees return to work after a long absence due to mental or other illnesses, support should be provided during the recovery phase with workspace modifications, sick leave allowances, and modified supervision. Communicating effectively, giving recognition, promoting self-care, encouraging good lifestyle choices, social interaction, boosting team relationships and introducing work perks are some of the great ways in which organisations can build employee wellbeing.

Can letting employees do a side job a possible factor to be added in healthy workplace?

Well, there have been a lit-up topic of moonlighting in the corporate world. This brings a question what if employees are allowed to do a side job with core job?

Goyal said that the effects of letting employees do a part time or side job with their core job on employee wellness will vary depending on the specific situation and employee. However, there are some general points that can be made about the potential benefits and drawbacks of letting employees do a part time or side job with their core job.

"The benefits of letting employees do a part time or side job with their core job can include increased productivity and satisfaction at work, as well as opportunities for employees to develop new skills and grow their career. The drawback of letting employees do a part time or side job with their core job is that it can likely lead to less hours worked overall, which could lead to a decline in employee productivity and satisfaction. Additionally, it can be difficult to manage employee schedules when employees are working a part time or side job with their core job, which could lead to conflicts or inefficiencies," he said.


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