Created on 2023-02-11 06:32

Published on 2023-02-11 06:36

A review of the data from the India Workplace Wellbeing Report 2023 indicates that there is a wide scope for improvement in the way organizations support the mental wellbeing of individuals at all levels. Nearly 55% of individuals reported moderate to severe signs of anxiety, 29% reported moderate to severe signs of depression, and 78% reported moderate to high stress. Despite these alarming statistics, the subjective wellbeing was rated positively by 99% of individuals in the same sample.

This indicates that people may have learned to live with poor mental health or even see it as a natural part of their work environment.

The problem of normalizing stress in the workplace is a growing one. With so many individuals experiencing high levels of stress, there is a high likelihood that a large number in the workforce may abruptly show a drop in performance and disengage. Additionally, with the cultural connotations of overworking and suffering that permeate to workplaces in India, data from Manah Wellness’ report suggest that a large portion of our workforce may have normalised poor mental health and do not see this an issue and will not seek help for the same.

This is concerning for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is predictive of a massive burnout in the workforce, along with health and financial consequences that amplify poor mental health. Secondly, normalizing poor mental health and high stress is likely to act as a barrier in preventive efforts by organizations, with burnout affecting people suddenly. The cost to businesses may be predicted to be significant in the future, especially with millennial and Gen Z workers being more vocal about wellbeing and their readiness to move out of roles or organizations that do not support their expectations.

People normalize stress at the workplace for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Cultural norms: In some cultures, there is a belief that working hard and being constantly stressed is a sign of dedication and success. This cultural norm can lead individuals to normalize stress as a natural part of their work environment.
  • Lack of support: Many organizations do not provide adequate support for their employees’ mental health, leaving individuals to fend for themselves in high-stress situations.
  • Stigma around mental health: The stigma surrounding mental health can make individuals reluctant to seek help or talk about their stress.
  • Fear of job loss: In some industries and organizations, there is a fear that admitting to stress or mental health issues could lead to job loss or career damaging consequences.
  • Poor work-life balance: With longer working hours and a lack of time for self-care, individuals can become accustomed to feeling stressed and may come to see it as a normal part of their daily lives.

By recognizing the reasons behind normalization of stress in the workplace, organizations and individuals can work together to reduce stress levels and create a more supportive work environment.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to address this issue and create a work environment that promotes and supports mental wellbeing.

  • Encourage an open dialogue about mental health: Encouraging open discussions about mental health within the workplace can help break down the stigma associated with it and allow employees to feel comfortable discussing their own mental health and seeking support when they need it.
  • Implement wellness programs: Offering wellness programs such as stress management workshops, yoga and meditation classes, or counseling services can help employees manage their stress levels and improve their overall wellbeing.
  • Provide flexible work arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, flexible hours, or unlimited time off can help employees better balance their work and personal lives, reducing stress and improving their mental health.
  • Foster a supportive work environment: Creating a supportive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and heard can help reduce stress and improve mental health. This can include regular check-ins, opportunities for professional growth, and programs that encourage work-life balance.
  • Normalize mental wellbeing: Through a range of interventions such as increased awareness, skilling employees, empowering champions and leaders leading the effort, bring about a cultural shift to normalize mental wellbeing.

While leadership buy-in is critical, its equally important to recognise that every individual is a stakeholder in the organisation who has active role and responsibility for creating a positive work environment that supports the mental and emotional health of employees. This includes the employer, HR departments, managers, and even the employees themselves. By working together and being proactive about addressing the issues that contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression, organizations can help ensure that their employees are able to perform at their best and lead fulfilling lives.

Download a copy of the India Workplace Wellbeing Report 2023