Mental Wellness at Workplace: Strategies and Practices

Mental Wellness at Workplace: Strategies and Practices
Mental Wellness at Workplace: Strategies and Practices
This article has been contributed by Rajeev Vijayan, Co-Founder & CEO, The Able Mind.

Feeling overwhelmed by work these days? You're not alone. In today's lightning-fast world, work often becomes our entire universe. But what about the well-being of the people behind the work? Don’t just focus on fancy ping pong tables, sleep pods and free lunches – true employee well-being goes way deeper. It's about crafting a work environment that fosters the overall health and happiness of your team.

In stark contrast to the bygone era where success was often carved through ruthlessness, leaving a trail of casualties in its wake, the modern corporate world thrives on a different kind of power. Here, success is built on the collective strength of a team. It's about inspiring and empowering employees to believe in themselves and the shared vision, ultimately propelling everyone towards a common goal. It's a win-win scenario where individual achievements become stepping stones for collective triumphs.

The State of Workplace Wellbeing
Challenges and Misconceptions
Challenges in Prioritizing Employee Well-being
Strategies and Practices for Mental Wellness

The State of Workplace Wellbeing

In March 2023, Indeed commissioned the Forrester Consulting Group to conduct a global survey of employees to gauge the current state of workplace wellbeing. The survey indicated a harsh reality - that only 24 percent of employees in Indian organisations experience high levels of wellbeing at their workplaces and over 75% reported low levels. This isn't just a number – it's a wake-up call. Prioritizing mental wellness in the workplace isn't optional anymore, it's essential.

Challenges and Misconceptions

Here's the shocker. Some leaders still believe mental health concerns don't exist in their workforce, or that it's all a big fuss and people should not be mollycoddled or that employees are productivity robots fuelled by coffee and ambition alone. They've shifted their focus from a people-centric approach to one solely focused on results but while achieving results is crucial, it's the people who deliver those results.

Challenges in Prioritizing Employee Well-being

So, why do we overlook employee well-being even though it benefits everyone?
Let's break it down:

  • Misguided Beliefs: The outdated notion that success means long hours, constant "busyness," and cutthroat competition ("dog-eat-dog world") still lingers. This mentality is a recipe for burnout and disregards employee well-being.
  • Short-Term Focus: Some companies prioritize immediate results over investing in their employees' long-term well-being. They might see wellness initiatives as unnecessary costs with no clear impact on quarterly profits.
  • It cannot be measured: Unlike sales figures or productivity, there's no single, clear-cut way to quantify a happier, healthier workforce. This can lead some companies to view mental health initiatives as a vague expense with an uncertain return on investment.
  • Lack of Personal Awareness: The impact of a stressful work environment on mental and physical health can be a blind spot for some leaders, especially those from a different generation. Their own experiences and professional growth in a less connected world could make them less aware of the social, financial, and peer pressures faced by today's new generation entering an increasingly connected and complex world. This can lead to missing the warning signs of burnout and the negative effects of fostering excessive competition in a hyper-connected world.

Mental Health Challenges in the Startup World
Discover the mental health challenges within startups: stress, burnout, and uncertainty. Learn how to navigate this fast-paced environment while prioritizing well-being.

Strategies and Practices for Mental Wellness

A well-being culture promotes both employee engagement (think productivity, retention, and customer satisfaction) and well-being (impacting presenteeism, absenteeism, turnover, and productivity). You can't focus on one at the expense of the other – both need to be addressed to create a healthy, productive workplace that fosters mental peace within your employees.

But where does one start? Here are some actionable strategies and practices to
create a culture of mental well-being for your team:

  • Formal Mental Health Policy: Establish a company policy outlining your commitment to mental health and the resources available to employees. This policy should ensure that existing policies (performance management, feedback shift work, project staffing, rewards) are aligned with building a holistic well-being and engagement culture.
  • Open Communication is Key: Silence is the enemy of progress. Create a safe space for employees to discuss mental health concerns. Lead by example and normalize open communication. Talk about your own experiences with stress and challenges, and actively listen to your team's concerns.
  • Stop romanticising ‘busy-ness’: Burnout is a real and serious issue. Encourage employees to take breaks, use their vacation days, and disconnect when they are focusing on their personal lives. Consider flexible work arrangements or compressed workweeks to give them control over their schedules while absolutely recognizing and communicating that work-life balance does not mean a 9am – 5pm workday. Work-life balance is about priorities and the employee and organization each other’s priorities when required.
  • Effective Support System: Wellbeing equals resilience. A resilient employee is better equipped to navigate challenges. And the good news? Resilience can be learned. But wellbeing needs daily focus. Like mandatory skill-upgrading training, companies need to offer ongoing support for emotional well-being –
    workshops, open cultures, proactive measures to ensure timely and effective support so employees can bring their best selves to work every day. 78% of all workplace issues are spillovers from personal life.

    We are dealing with people where the stigma associated with seeking support is
    real and everyone's become really good at bottling up their feelings - resulting in a pent-up volcano of festering emotional turbulences. The need for anonymity, accessibility and constant support is crucial and needs to be built into the support framework.
  • Walk the Talk: Let's be honest, claiming employee well-being is a top priority is practically the new "free candy!" in the corporate world. Everyone's saying it, but is anyone offering the keys to the vault (or at least a comfy beanbag chair)?
    Ideally, employees should arrive at work with their personal woes neatly compartmentalized, tucked away like a forgotten gym membership. But guess
    what? Turns out, 78% of employee well-being issues seep in from that very
    personal life you'd rather have them leave outside. Organizations can't just preach well-being like a motivational poster. They need to bake it into the company culture, the policies, the breakroom conversations and in their communication. Awareness campaigns, workshops, trainings are great, but just not enough. One needs to have a plan to address employee well-being issues, not just a strategy.
Market Size of the Wellness Industry Worldwide from 2019 to 2022 with Forecast to 2027
Market Size of the Wellness Industry Worldwide from 2019 to 2022 with Forecast to 2027

Guess what translates directly to profit? Less grumpy emails, fewer sick days, and people who actually want to stay (imagine that!). Also, happy employees mean less presenteeism – you know, those warm bodies who show up but aren't really there. Now that's a productivity boost that can be measured on the bottom line and creates a win-win.

A mentally healthy workforce is a productive and thriving workforce. By implementing these strategies, you can create a positive and supportive work environment where your employees feel empowered to prioritize their well-being and bring their best selves to work every day.

Top 10 Mental Health Startups Transforming the Industry in 2022
Mental health is a serious matter in today’s world. Given below is the list of reformative startups promoting better mental health for society.

Must have tools for startups - Recommended by StartupTalky

Read more