Workplace Trends

Mental well-being of Employees is Key to Great Business Outcomes

Published on : 10/15/19
  • The leading cause of absenteeism at workplaces is mental health; representing a cost of $1 trillion to the world economy each year, says WHO. It is estimated that although 1/6th of the working population will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives, yet only 1/3rd will actively seek help and treatment.

    Considering these frightening statistics, organisations are now looking at mental health from a new perspective and taking great measures to find solutions to the issue. Constant research and studying the problem from close quarters for several years, has led Sodexo to make breakthrough progress in managing mental health at its workplaces; ensuring a better employee experience and productivity.

    There has been a significant increase in stress levels of the Indian working population in the last few years. The main reasons are inability to find the right work-life balance, job insecurity, job dissatisfaction, tough competition at workplaces, finances, and problems on the personal front. More often than not, extensive stress leads to anxiety and mental health problems, sometimes even culminating in suicide. Sadly, the most frustrating aspect of mental problems is its invisibility. Unlike physical health problem that manifests on the surface, it is extremely difficult to spot a mental health problem, more so because the person going through it is either unaware of it or refuses to voice it.

    Major reasons that affect mental health

    Problems on the personal front adversely affect mental health the most. Frustration over not being able to work due to household responsibilities, relationship stress can trigger mental trauma. Sometimes, having an autistic child in the family can be a grave cause of tension. Consulting specialists regularly, managing the child and worrying about the child’s future can take its toll on mental health. 

    Another major reason affecting mental health is finances. Managing finances of the family and meeting high aspiration levels can lead to depression. Some people feel the urge to maintain a certain social and economic status, at par with their relatives and friends, and yet lack the means to do so. There may be others who are below the poverty level index, have a hard time making ends meet, but want their children to take up higher studies and prosper in life. In either case, not having enough financial means affects mental health.

    Maintaining proper work-life balance is also a major cause of worry. Let’s consider the case of an ambitious person who is going up the ladder in the organization at a fast pace, due to sincere efforts and high-efficiency levels. After becoming a parent, the person wants to maintain the same pace at work, but there is the additional responsibility of a child now. Sleepless nights, guilt of having to compromise with work and home; builds up anxiety and affects mental health. Similarly, parents of teenagers also go through mental trauma when they have a full-time job to attend and yet need to spend adequate time with the son or daughter who seeks more attention.

    Recognizing the silent invasion

    When the mental health of an employee is affected, the person is not able to devote his complete attention to work. Problems preying on the mind build up stress and adversely affect performance. The employee is unhappy, does not give 100% to work; consequently, the organization’s productivity level declines. The entire process goes into an infinite loop and a vicious circle is created that only gets worse with time.

    Sodexo’s effort in ensuring mental well-being of its employees

    At Sodexo, it is our mission to ensure the Quality of Life to our employees. We strive to create a workplace environment where an employee experiences positive vibes; the good health of the organization greets him like a whiff of fresh air when he walks in. We create awareness through campaigns and forums that discuss about the importance of mental health issues and encourage managers to understand the signs of mental distress and support employees to overcome such issues. This year, on Mental Health Day, we launched a mandatory micro-learning session on mental health for all managers.

    ‘I Hear You’ is a very important holistic mental health awareness initiative by Sodexo. It opens up conversation between the employees and us; it is a preventive measure that helps detect signs of mental trauma among colleagues and provides meaningful support. An employee can choose to remain anonymous or divulge his name and seek professional help. An analysis of the past data on the usage of similar platforms indicates that most employees look for a neutral platform to ‘vent’ or ‘share’ how they feel. The very fact that they are able to ‘speak-it-out’, makes them feel better, says a leading mental health counsellor. By sharing their problems with their peers, family members, friends or manager(s), one fears that they will be judged wrongfully. So, this is a perfect solution, to make available help to people who need it the most and in time.

    Over the years, we have received encouraging results through these dialogue-based initiatives. Employees find the confidence to speak up about their problems, vent their frustrations and release their stress. This has led to a considerable decrease in mental health problems, happier employees, lesser absenteeism and lower attrition. We say this because over a period of time we have seen effective usage of the platform. We have several examples of senior leaders, who have been able to overcome their mental trauma, get their lives back on track and are now serving as role models for other employees to follow – by sharing, speaking up. Because mental health isn’t any cliché – it is like any other illness which needs thorough and immediate attention. 

    So, if you’re one of them, OPEN UP! We’re here to HEAR YOU