Mental Health And Employee Well-Being: The Formula For A Happy Workplace

With the increasing pressure to meet deadlines at the workplace especially during this unstable time, it’s no surprise that many employees are dealing with rising stress. Higher the stress, not only do employees lose focus but they also impact their own as well as company’s growth. Seeking answers for why and how to crack the code for a happy workplace, we turned to four leading personalities from the industry to #ContinueTheConversation at The Workplace Well-Being Webinar powered by Never Grow Up.


The panel included Padma Rajeshwari, CHRO Aditya Birla Group who has over 25 years of experience in the HR leadership space; Niren Srivastava, Head – HR and Training & Admin Aditya Birla Health Insurance with more than 15 years of overall experience; Ruhie Pande, CHRO Godrej Housing Finance and a certified PCC Coach; and lastly Rachana Lokhande, independent Director and visiting faculty at MICA with nearly 19 years of experience in the OOH industry.


Let’s take a look at what they had to say about mental health and employee well-being:


Are organisations the only ones responsible for employee well-being?

Padma Rajeshwari thinks not. She opened the conversation by mentioning that employee well-being is important and while organisations have always focused on it, it hasn’t been a top priority. Today, we can say that it’s the pandemic that has generated awareness and pushed this requirement to the top. At the same time, employee well-being cannot only be an organisation’s responsibility. ‘An organisation can be the enabler, and devise frameworks’ but implementation depends on individuals. But for individuals to influence or motivate others, the organisation must foster an open culture.


On the other hand, Ruhie Pande had a slightly different take on this and opines that organisations have a higher liability in their employees’ well-being. While employees obviously need to act, it is an organisation’s ability to go out of their way that matters most. She mentioned that it isn’t just wellness programs that play a role, but how leaders and managers are trained to be empathetic and promote a culture of openness.


Is there a reason why well-being initiatives tend to fail?

Rachana says it’s more to do with an organisation’s culture and perspectives with which initiatives are conceived. She stressed that most organisations evaluate their employees’ needs on the basis of numbers or excel sheet data which leads to missing out on the finer details and is the reason why they are unable to design the right framework. At the same time, ’employees end up sidelining these initiatives in their quest to achieving targets – cumulatively leading to the failure of well-being initiatives’.


Niren Srivastava says, for the initiatives to work – they need to be a part of the core HR strategy and cannot simply be a fashion statement anymore; they must be brought to life by the organisations’ leadership teams; and the organisation must do a risk stratification because a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t have a great impact.


Our Director and also the moderator for the webinar, Asif Upadhye, further added that though HR intentions are pure in bringing about positive change for mental health and employee well-being, executing ideas is where HR goes wrong!


How can managers, be prepared for sensitivity towards their employees?

Embedding any kind of well-being initiatives into the workplace needs managerial support, says Ruhie Pande, while mentioning that this is the most challenging part. If employees get mixed messages from the HR and leadership, they won’t be able to embrace any initiative – even if it is meant for their well-being. It solely ‘depends on how the leadership team walks the talk’ and opens conversations.


While Padma agreed with her views on this, she got everyone thinking by pointing out that the ‘manager is also human’. So, though we are right in expecting their support, it is a challenge given that managers have their own stress, and everyone needs to consider that. This must be a two way street – with employees and managers showing the same level of empathy towards each other.


Do biases hold us back from accepting the importance of mental well-being?

Biases come from our perspective towards mental health as a society. Physical issues can be seen, and most times people have a cure. This is not the case for mental health issues, causing people to distance themselves from this. Simply lending a listening ear to a colleague can help, emphasizes Niren. His suggestion towards ensuring change in this scenario is to talk about it more often, create communities based on employees’ interests, and be able to reach out to the employees’ families. These things will take time to evolve, but until then, everyone should take efforts and be human about it. Rachana had similar viewpoints, and stressed on the fact that biases will remain but efforts shouldn’t stop.


#ContinueTheConversation

With all panelists bringing excellent perspectives to the table, The Workplace Well-Being Webinar has definitely brought attention to many finer nuances that are otherwise lost. The scope for changing efforts towards mental health and employee well-being is huge, and this discussion has left us with some amazing insights. But all said and done, the one perspective everyone agreed on was that the onus to drive this change and build a culture of openness, lies on organisations.


Let’s #ContinueTheConversation, shall we?

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