What started out as “work from home” has slowly turned into “live at work”.
With increasing work hours, lack of boundaries in personal and work spaces, uncertain future all have led to deteriorating mental health for employees. Recent reports suggest that 1 in 6 employees in the corporate world suffered from problems related to worsening mental health.
While the importance of mental health at workplace is fairly obvious, the implementation is tricky. Many companies struggle to get employees engaged, leadership aligned and achieve the impact that is truly needed.
How can leaders ensure that mental wellness initiatives succeed at their workplace?
At Manah Wellness, we partner with over 50 organisations, to support their employee wellbeing and these are the 4 key Indicators that demonstrate that mental health at the workplace initiative is indeed working.
Leadership Commitment: It’s a cliché but it truly starts from the top. Engagements where we have seen the CEO or company leadership communicate, engage and track weekly progress have seen the most success. Leadership openness to promoting mental health at workplace, demonstrating vulnerability and commitment to long term is probably the topmost reason for success. Leaders need to lead by example and build safe spaces for employees to not only voice concerns around mental health at workplace, but also an opportunity for them to bring in their ideas and solutions.
Proactive Engagement not Reactive Response: When stress levels are high, productivity is down, and burnout is obvious, its already too late to engage in emotional wellbeing exercises. A one-off webinar with some inspirational talks is not going to make significant change. What is needed is a proactive systemic approach, based on organisational and individual needs. Start with an emotional assessment of teams, create custom plans, which are then rolled out with empathy and sensitivity over next three to six months, hand held by experts in mental health.
Internal champions across Organisation: Our team of expert psychologists work closely with the HR leaders to craft the most appropriate engagement from a mental health perspective. However, ultimately the solution is not to solve “A” problem, but to build resilience within the organisation to handle the ups and downs. This requires internal champions who are trained on mental health awareness and can act as first responders. These internal champions lead the conversation, respond to needs and promote a culture of resilience. Gen-Z employees particularly are keen to participate and lead the conversation around mental wellness at workplace. Leaders can leverage this to build momentum and sustain it.
Agenda Item on Weekly Meetings: No one has time for another meeting called to talk about employee wellness. Time is at a premium already. What we encourage our clients to do is to integrate mental wellness conversations in their weekly meetings. One example is to start your meetings with meditation and end with music. The fact that every Friday meeting starts with meditation will build interest across the organisation triggering conversations and engagement. Another thing we encourage is that during leadership meetings, set aside 15 mins to build leaders and managers capability to handle mental wellbeing at work.
What we consider today to be a benefit, ideally should be treated as a leadership capability. The quicker we train and equip our leaders and managers with mental wellness for themselves and others as a core capability, the faster mental health and wellbeing will become integral at workplaces.
Dr Ashwin Naik, Founder at Manah Wellness, Reimagining Mental Health
As an entrepreneur, Ashwin Naik leads Manah Wellness, a mental health platform. During COVID19, he is leading a coalition of mental health professionals who have come together as Let’s Talk, a volunteer driven mental health helpline.
He also co-founded Vaatsalya (Bringing affordable healthcare services to small town India), Seraniti (Bringing high quality mental health services in India) and We Scale Impact (Helping healthcare entrepreneurs across the world scale their impact).
As a non-profit leader, he has served on the boards or held leadership positions at Wadhwani Institute for Sustainable Health, Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Action for India and Nourishing Schools Foundation.
He is an angel investor and advisor to healthcare startups.
He has a medical degree from India and a master degree from the United States. He started his career working on the decoding of the human genome project at Celera Genomics.