Mental health conditions, stress, and all such factors have been some of the areas which have erupted post-pandemic. The pandemic has only aggravated the problem further with many employees dealing with health anxiety including that of dependents, stress due to staffing shortages at work or attempting impossible work-caregiving juggles. The focus should be on mental health amid a return to the workplace and charting a sustainable plan for the new world of work.
Today, organisations are undertaking manifold steps to create: a more resilient workforce, retain and attract talent, fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, and reduce overall costs. In 2019/20, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 51% of all work-related ill health cases and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges for organisations, there is a risk that this single focus is creating a blind spot which could soon lead to mental health and lifestyle disease epidemic. Workplace closures, home-schooling, community lockdowns, isolation and chronic uncertainty have resulted in much higher levels of stress, burnout, anxiety and poorer psychological outcomes for many people.
Return to the workplace mayensure that employees get a change from workplace isolation which has plagued them for the last couple of years. However, a return to the workplace also means that employees must juggle their roles of employee and caregivers. Workers who travel for longer durations at work are immensely prone to such anxieties. This is compounded by the fact that the long-term efforts of COVID infection are still being researched with many people complaining of multiple symptoms including shortness of breath, body aches, brain fog etc. Taking a longer-term view, there needs to be a stronger emphasis on the whole person- on an individual’s overall wellbeing, both mental and physical. This includes the management of lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and cancer. Integrated workplace preventative programs can surely help to build awareness and address the problem in the longer run.
The pandemic has only aggravated the problem further with many employees dealing with health anxiety including that of dependents, stress due to staffing shortages at work or attempting impossible work-caregiving juggles. The focus should be on mental health amid a return to the workplace and charting a sustainable plan for the new world of work.
In the post-pandemic world, organisations have realised that to attract top talent, compensation is not the only criterion – caring for employees and their ecosystems, especially on the health and well-being front has taken a front seat in the boardroom, especially for a country like ours.
Today, we see that organisations are hiring experts,including those from the medical and well-being domain, to help their leaders understand the best-in-class EVP policies and design, which will be aligned with the organisation’s values and culture. EVP is what a company gives back to its employees, including the compensation. For any organisation, its leaders need help to understand what initiatives make sense for its employees and what gives the highest ROI, those initiatives to be designed and adopted.
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I feel, the three top factors that any organisation needs in its Employer branding are:
- An organizational commitment to employee health and well-being (demonstrated by its top leadership)
- Organisational and employee resilience
- A larger visible agenda that includes Community health and well-being, especially in a country like India where corporate sponsorship will play an important role in building and sustaining communities
Well defined duty of care agenda built on sustainable business practices helps organisations to think about the impact of their operations on, not only current but also future generations of employees and the communities they serve in. The end of the pandemic of COVID infections may be in sight but there is a larger pandemic of mental ill-health that is yet to be faced. The challenges this time around will be as great, if not greater, than what the world has experienced. It’s time to prepare for a prolonged war against mental ill-health.