According to an ancient adage, most battles are either won or lost in the mind even before they are actually fought. This is also true for any workplace. When the employees are without stress and in sound mental health, it not only ensures their wellbeing but also the growth of the organization.
A recent report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that anxiety and depression among the workforce are responsible for losses worth billions of dollars to companies worldwide. This assumes more significance in troubled times like the present crisis faced by the world – Covid-19 pandemic. If the situation is left unchecked or no action is taken to address the mental health of the employees, it may result in more loss of productivity and profits.
Since the pandemic started two years ago, the world has been witnessing unprecedented changes – both in people’s lives and the workplace. The pandemic has made everything uncertain by forcing lockdowns and shutdowns the world over. Working from home or remote working became the new norm. In such a situation it is the duty of every employer to have constant and clear communication with their employees. It is important for them to convey the message that no matter how worse the situation gets, all will deal with the unforeseen challenges together. It is also imperative for them to address the mental issues faced by their employees, irrespective of whether they are working from home or in the office.
Often working from home or remote working can take a toll on the employees, as they feel alienated. Lack of regular interaction with their office or senior management may make them feel depressed. In order to overcome this problem, the company founder, CEO, or senior management officials may conduct online meetings every month, send emails or recorded messages to their employees discussing the performance of the company, their strategies, reviews as well as future plans. Holding such periodic meetings will not only help to boost the employees’ morale, but also relieve them of stress and anxiety. It will help to ensure that every person has a role to play in the organization’s big picture.
With the spread of Covid-19 pandemic abating somewhat, many companies have resumed operations from their offices. In this situation, it would be better for companies to allow their employees to enjoy flexible hours. Provided the output is satisfactory and the overall performance of the organization is not hampered, giving employees some flexibility can actually work wonders for productivity. This approach will help collaborative effort as employees working in different shifts can be together for some hours and interact about work and wellbeing.
Traditionally, very few employers have been focusing on the physical fitness and mental wellness of their employees. People engaged in technological and software development need to spend long hours at their workstations. It would be wonderful if the employers integrate gym activities, yoga, talking walks, and meditation space during office hours. Keen about their employees’ physical and mental wellbeing, some Japanese firms have already introduced these practices and are reaping the benefits. These practices apart, offering a conducive work environment can help to keep the employees motivated and focused on their work.
Before we end, it is worth mentioning that technology can also play a vital role in ensuring the mental and physical wellness of the employees. For instance, conversational analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to transform the workplace, thereby helping to ensure the wellbeing of the employees. Employers can build digital solutions and AI-driven chatbots that can communicate with the employees on various factors related to their behavioral and mental health. AI therapists are not only easy and fast to use, but they also offer complete anonymity. What is best about AI therapists is that one can access them anytime and from anywhere.
Today, in the new normal, business leaders need to focus on the above-mentioned practices and other technology-driven changes for the mental health of their employees.
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