Modern workplace stress extracts a massive psychological toll on employees. In addition, it places a significant burden—that is financial and moral —on organizations. The stress results from several factors ranging from unrealistic workloads, to a lack of job control, workplace conflicts, ambiguity in career paths, business uncertainty, etc. Workplace anxiety leads to poor mental health which results in absenteeism, rising healthcare expenditure and productivity loss. One recent Indian study found that 83.56% of people in their workplace feel stressed sometimes or most of the time, leading to a lack of concentration, depression, frustration and exhaustion. Although related data for the resulting cost of stress is not available, a study in the US alone found that workplace stress costs businesses $300 billion a year. Now, with COVID-19, stresses levels are rising alarmingly as the compulsions of a distributed workforce lead to a sense of disorientation, disconnection, disempowerment and isolation.
Work need not lead to stress. It should lead to a sense of self-fulfillment and achievement. At ITC Infotech, our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) aims to create a compelling work environment that maintains the physical and financial health of employees along with their mental well-being, allowing us to enhance our people strength. This strength allows us to win in our weight category.
The moments of truth
Of the Nine Moments of Truth that impact employees (see Figure 1), the sixth moment helps employees navigate through life situations and increases their emotional quotient, strengthening the connection between employees and the organization.
The Sixth Moment of Truth creates mental well-being by driving a culture of social and psychological security through empathy with a sense of inclusivity driven by openness and trust. A focus on mental well-being is important because it impacts individuals, their working ecosystem, and their relationship with different people in the employee network
The widespread impact that an employee’s mental well-being can have is understood and appreciated by enterprises across the world. But a National Employee Mental Wellbeing Survey showed that 35 percent of employees approached no one for support on the most recent occasion they experienced poor mental health. In addition, another 86% employees said they would think twice before offering to help a colleague whose mental health they were concerned about. This implies the need for enterprises to be pro-active in managing mental health. Unless they do so, a pandemic like COVID-19 can quickly lead to panic and deterioration in employee performance. ITC Infotech considers it a duty to make its employees mentally resilient, especially when life and livelihood are under threat. Our goal is to ensure there is no corrosion in the decision-making capabilities of employees, their sense of responsibility and their relationships with colleagues and customers.
Understanding Our Ecosystem
An analysis of ITC Infotech employees provides insights for an action plan to ensure that mental wellbeing does not become a matter of concern. This involves:
- Understanding motivational drivers of employees that can strengthen the impact on peers and others
- Managerial sensitization that enables better management of a multi-generational workforce
- Creating self-awareness that helps employees manage their relationships better
- Optimum managerial spans that promote psychological and social safety by building a culture of inclusivity, trust and openness through regular connects
The unique nature of COVID-19 demands extraordinary support for employees. To deal with this, we have identified four situations that call for urgent attention:
- Emotional issues emerging out of the probable spread of Corona virus
- Emotional issues because of social distancing/ distributed working
- Challenges because of quarantine restrictions
- Impact of identified COVID-19 positive employee
To address the anxiety and panic that the above situations can lead to, we have instituted a formal system:
- Availability of self-help online resources that includes a portal with assessment and tools along with online resources on COVID-19 related coping resources.
- Manager support available to employees.
- COVID-19 specific communication such as mailers and resources circulated to all employees.
- Live chats and webinars by experts on self-care during the pandemic, dealing with social Isolation, enhancing productivity while working from home and building emotional resilience
To measure the effectiveness of our approach and to constantly improve it we track metrics, using survey questionnaires, related to:
- Employee Experience or what employees encounter, changing work dynamics, employees’ happiness quotient
- Employee Effectiveness or how well employees build self-awareness, develop empathy towards self and others
- Psychological/Social Safety that includes feelings, attitudes and behaviours that express employees’ commitment, motivation and connection to their work (enthusiasm, satisfaction, indifference, anger)
The mental well-being of our employees is a significant responsibility. Making investments in mental health not only improves productivity but also creates a deep sense of positivity and bonding critical to success in these unusually challenging times.
Senior Manager, Training