For a minute, picture this:
You're at your desk, juggling a mountain of tasks, and the clock is ticking away. Stress is creeping in, deadlines are piling up, and it’s almost like you're stuck in a never-ending maze of work.
Wait, this one’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s delve deeper into this and see what lies beneath.
In India, employees face stress an astonishing 11 times every month.
That's more than once a week! And guess what? A whopping 76% of them say it's taking a toll on their productivity. These eye-opening findings are courtesy of the People at Work 2023 study, which surveyed over 32,000 workers across 17 countries.
Now, bear with us and cast your mind back to Robert Frost's famous poem: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both..."
As World Mental Health Day approaches, it's impossible not to see the parallels between Frost's poetic crossroads and the choices we face in today's corporate world.
Many companies are presently preparing for a couple of initiatives.
They are thinking about recruiting additional counsellors for their workforce, planning on some internal team activities, and expanding their Employee Assistance Programs. These are undoubtedly commendable steps but let's pause for a moment, shall we? You see, most people follow the more familiar path, where mental health remains a silent struggle and mild inclusion in workplace activities seems to be the solution.
But what if, instead of this, we actually took a moment to contemplate the road less travelled and first tried to understand why our employees often don’t speak up about their struggles.
It’s part of the “tribal behaviour”.
Humans are born with a need to affiliate. This means that people have been driven by the need to form relationships and fit into their “tribes” since humanity started to exist.
Now, let's connect the idea of tribal behaviour to the reluctance of employees to speak up about their mental health struggles. Despite the growing awareness and acceptance on the topic, talking openly about mental health is still seen as a taboo or something to avoid in many workplaces. This makes employees worried about discussing their mental health challenges because they think it doesn't “fit” with how everyone else in the workplace seems to act, like they have everything together.
The result is a silent struggle.
This exacts a high toll, not only on individual employees but also on companies as a whole. When employees suffer in silence, they can encounter constant stress, unhappiness, and decreased productivity. And if this continues, it can explode into problems like absenteeism, turnover, and an overall toxic work culture.
But what if we could change the narrative? What if we could encourage employees to freely open up about their workplace struggles, without fear of judgement or repercussions?
Don’t you think it is about time for a paradigm shift towards how we see mental health in the work space.
Employers hold a vital role in this transformation.
Employers must create an environment that encourages employees to seek help when needed and they must also educate themselves on the psychological aspects of workplace struggles. Understanding the difficulties of employees can help companies spot signs of mental distress, even when employees stay silent.
Mental Health Days: Offer additional paid leave days specifically designated as "mental health days." These days can be taken by employees when they feel the need to recharge, address their mental health, or simply take a break from work.
Relaxation Spaces: Designate areas within the workplace for relaxation. Provide resources such as comfortable seating or quiet spaces where employees can take short breaks to decompress and recharge, away from their work station.
Mental Health Ambassadors: Select employees to serve as mental health ambassadors on a rotating basis. These ambassadors can act as advocates, organise mental health-related events, and initiate conversations to destigmatize mental health challenges. This will help in normalising the topic of mental health.
Mental Health Challenges: Organise friendly mental health challenges or initiatives that promote positive behaviours. For example, you can have a "Step Challenge" to encourage physical activity, or a "Gratitude Journal Challenge" to foster a positive mindset.
Above all, it starts with lightening up and having a talk.
Employees should feel like they have the comfortable space to talk about their challenges without feeling stressed or judged. Employers, on the other hand, should be good listeners and make room for honest mental health conversations and normalise them. They should understand that dealing with mental health issues is something everyone goes through at some point. It's time we put as much importance on understanding and supporting mental health as we do on getting things done.
Just as Robert Frost's traveller faced a choice, so do we. Sure, the road less travelled is not an easy one, but it's a path worth taking and we surely have miles to go before we sleep.
Psst! This blog was made with💚 and created after some thought by a real person.#NoGenerativeAI