Emotional Wellbeing of Corporate Leaders and Employees
Nearly 42.5% of employees in the private sector are suffering from depression or general anxiety disorder. Clearly, mental health issues are plaguing our workers which in turn affects their overall functionality and productivity.
When we talk about the Indian corporate world, things get even more worrisome. Nearly 56% of Indian corporate employees get less than six hours of sleep in a day due to high-stress levels, according to a report by ASSOCHAM. In addition to this, nearly 42.5% of employees in the private sector are suffering from depression or general anxiety disorder. Clearly, mental health issues are plaguing our workers which in turn affects their overall functionality and productivity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this. As per a YourDOST study, 55% of Indian working professionals and entrepreneurs experienced a rise in their stress levels due to the pandemic.
Some of the challenges that employees and leaders face which in turn affects their emotional well being are:
1. Lack of work-life balance
A study conducted back in 2019 found that 60% of working Indians rate work-life balance from average to terrible. The 2020 pandemic and the consequent prolonged work-from-home situation have only made this worse. The contributing factor to this includes prolonged work-from-home which leaves many individuals feeling like they are in an “always-on” mode. Additionally, the lockdown led to a drastic change in most people’s lifestyles and routines. Many continue to struggle to maintain a proper routine in the modest of these circumstances. Multiple studies have shown that poor work-life balance can directly impact people’s mental health and can also adversely affect the prevention and management of mental illness. This makes this trend all the more worrying.
As per the YourDOST study alluded to earlier, Indian working professionals including entrepreneurs experienced a net increase of up to 40% in anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons varied from fear of contracting COVID-19 to fear of job loss/loss of pay, and burnout.
3. Interpersonal Relationships
One of the more unforeseen consequences of prolonged work-from-home that is being observed is a rise in cases of marital discord, family tussle, or roommate tiffs. This may be because of the incessant negativity of the current situation which requires us to put in a lot more effort to look for positivity. The consequent positivity deficit leads to unsavory situations wherein things can become tense among the inhabitants of the house.
Numerous studies have shown that emotionally competent employees can engage themselves better in their work, are self-motivated, and gain job satisfaction. Lack of proper engagement in work, on the other hand, lowers one's productivity and motivation levels.
So what can be done to overcome these challenges? The intervention strategies need to be implemented at 2 levels:
What can the management do?
● Flexible Work Hours
A better job control with more flexible hours and a choice to work from home (depending on the nature of work) can result in improved job satisfaction among employees. This is also backed by research. According to a study conducted by Stanford University, flexibly working from home raised employees’ productivity levels by almost 13%. It also led to a rise in employee morale, job satisfaction, work efficiency, and business profitability.
● One-on-one Meetings
Leadership members/managers can have short meetings with employees so that they can discuss their concerns and try to come with a rational solution for major problems. This can also create a healthy bond. The employees will not feel restricted in having open communication with the superiors and the superiors will also have an idea about how their employees are doing.
● Frequent Employee Pulse Check
Conduct periodic anonymous mood charting by employees to track patterns of emotional change.
● Quarterly Barometer Check
Circulate an anonymous questionnaire for a comprehensive measure of the organization’s state of emotional wellness.
What can employees do?
● Maintaining boundaries:
It is important to draw boundaries between work life and personal life. When there is no boundary, people will feel like they are just working the entire day and they can’t breathe in peace. Some ways to achieve this are creating a designated workspace for yourself at home, and mimicking your regular pre-COVID workday routine.
● Give Space
If ever things do get tense with your co-habitants, try to give each other space. Just because you’re under the same roof, doesn’t mean that you need to spend every hour of the day in each other’s company. Do your own thing. Set times to spend time with each other – lunch, tea, post-work hours, etc.
Practicing mindfulness is indeed the most effective tool. Studies have definitively shown that mindfulness helps build resilience, thus making us immune to getting overwhelmed in situations and overcoming stress and anxiety. It also has excellent long-term benefits for improvement in our concentration and focusing abilities.
● Professional help:
None of us is superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go according to plan. If you feel distressed, be open to therapy. Your employer may even have an employee assistance programme in place just for that. Make use of these services as they are confidential and can be accessed for free.
Emotional wellness for corporate leaders and employees needs more attention now than ever. With timely intervention and the tools in place, emotional wellness is fairly achievable at all levels.
One thing that we must all remember is this. It is completely okay to break down sometimes but don’t let your ego get in the way of you getting better. We are all human after all. Humans are vulnerable and being vulnerable isn’t a sign of weakness. Reach out, seek help, because you are strong.
(The given article Includes the inputs from Richa Singh, Co-founder, CEO, YourDOST)