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Workplace stress: one of the biggest contributors to poor mental well-being

Workplace stress: one of the biggest contributors to poor mental well-being

Amit Vasistha, Founder and CEO, GALF (Holistic Wellness aggregator for corporates)

In many ways, having a job enhances one’s health and outlook on life in general. However, a lot of people experience such high levels of stress at work that it surpasses any potential advantages and even jeopardises their wellbeing.

Although workplace stress, stigma, and behaviours toward employees who experience stress or mental illness have been investigated, and interventions have been designed to help resolve them globally, it continues to be a topic that is frequently overlooked across various industries and nations, including India.

It is not surprising that many full-time employees would have signs of poor mental health while at work given that they work an average of 8.5 hours each day during the week and 5.5 hours on weekends and holidays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Numerous employees claim to experience job-rated stress at their workplaces, which negatively affects their performance and health.

An overwhelming 84% of respondents said that at least one workplace element had a negative impact on their mental health, according to a Harvard Business Review survey on how employees deal with mental health issues. The most prevalent reason, which has gotten worse post Covid-19 , when examining the respondents, was emotionally taxing, overwhelming, dull, or monotonous employment. Work-life balance came in second place. Poor communication skills and a lack of support from coworkers or managers were the other workplace issues that most noticeably got worse after the pandemic, which is maybe not surprising given that most employees today work from home.

Noise, improper lighting, a poor workspace or office layout, and ergonomic concerns like improper working postures are a few examples of physical stressors at work. The most common sources of stress however stem from psychosocial stressors. Work overload, rigid work schedules, poor job supervision, poor work design and structure, bullying and harassment, and job insecurity are a few of these.

Because of the requirements of the modern work environment, pressure at the workplace cannot be fully averted. A certain kind of pressure may be deemed acceptable by the employees and may even keep them engaged, able to work, and able to learn. However, when that pressure becomes excessive or unmanageable it leads to stress. Stress at work has negative consequences on employee performance as well as company performance. Without adequate measures, mental conditions can have an impact on a person’s ability to work successfully and lead a healthy and fulfilled life.

‍According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion USD annually, primarily due to decreased productivity at workplaces. Another potential risk is that besides anxiety and depression being an outcome of stress, physical disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes can also be caused due to stress. Organizations must acknowledge the two-way relationship between stress and these physical diseases revealed by research and encourage personnel to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Due to deadlines, maintaining a competitive edge, sustaining growth, and an individual’s drive to earn more money by working overtime, this alone may be a challenging undertaking to implement. Therefore, firms must establish policies about working hours that are based on sound industrial practises and take steps to consistently enforce these policies.

Having said that, workplace stress can be avoided by firms with a comprehensive approach to their employees’ wellness through proactive interventions. Employers can address this troubling issue to create a work environment that is safer, healthier, and more productive. Employers have started implementing programmes like mental health days, zumba workshops, and improved counselling sessions, but they are lacking. The fundamental task of culture change must be undertaken in order to provide the sustainable and mentally healthy atmosphere that employees need and demand at work. Companies need to develop an entire ecosystem that includes strategic planning, policy developments, measurable tools for progress, training and education of employees, routine health surveillance, redesigning work systems, and much more to help with not only the physical and mental aspects of wellbeing but also the technological, environmental, and financial factors affecting it.

Here are some key aspects to consider while developing a standardised, easily deployable employee wellness strategy that incorporates the comprehensive risks and control framework:-

  • A proactive push for physical wellness programmes organised by employers, including sports, yoga, aerobics, and Zumba. A person’s emotional and mental states can change with movement.
  • Traditional health policies to be replaced by holistic wellness policies that go beyond the minimum requirements and cater to mental, emotional, physical, social, environmental, and economical factors.
  • Using technology-driven advanced wellness analytics, wellness mobile apps that provide wellbeing dashboards, wellness gamification, a wellness marketplace can prove beneficial to wellness as a company culture and aid in monitoring the wellness progress of the workforce.
  • A thorough programme for employee wellness that includes interventions in all areas of wellness-mental, emotional, physical, nutritional, social, technological, environmental, and financial-by experts from a variety of wellness domains.
  • Senior leaders being designated as wellness role models for the rest of the organisation might influence behaviour. Employers need to actively promote motivation since it increases production.

The workforce will choose more than just a business or brand going forward. They will be choosing an employer who can meet all of their requirements by offering a sustainable wellness ecosystem.


Views expressed above are the author’s own.

Originally published at https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com on October 20, 2022.

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