Mental health isn’t HR strategy, it is a corporate responsibility

The biggest challenge in year 2022 would be to create a “Happy Place to Work”.
The biggest challenge in year 2022 would be to create a “Happy Place to Work”.

Culture is ranked amongst the top three most important future of work 2021 trends



By Gulneet Chadha

Published: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 7:01 PM

Last updated: Mon 3 Jan 2022, 7:59 PM

Post pandemic, both corporates and individuals have experienced a massive shift.

Corporates have realised that the future of work revolves around taking care of their employees, while employees have strongly felt the need to have a work-life balance. Everyone’s come to a conclusion that we all live in a VUCA world, a world filled with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. While employees are trying to adapt to this constant change, the biggest challenge also is for companies to keep themselves competitive and flexible, focusing on the two most important things – retention and human capital acquisition.

What is changing? Let’s have a look at some interesting facts:

—Over 40 per cent of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer in 2021-2022, according to Microsoft Work Trend Index 2021.

—Workers planning to look for a new job, with one the top five reasons being: I want a better culture, according to Work Human IQ 2021.

— Culture is ranked amongst top three most important future of work 2021 trends, says Forbes Magazine

So, before we focus on our KPIs, Mission, Vision and any other objective, it’s so important for us to first look at our culture, with culture being nothing but understanding “how our people feel”. No matter how great your strategy or business model be, if your people are not into it, it is just a beautiful painting on the wall. The biggest challenge in year 2022 would be to create a “Happy Place to Work”.

Happiness at work is when you support your employees to sustain their individual health and productivity. This is why everyone today is talking about mental health. Studies have proved how investment in mental health can significantly and positively influence your bottom line and how things could be serious if we don’t focus on the mental health of our employees.

Don’t believe it? Here are some interesting facts and figures:

— According to the World Health Organisation, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $ 1 Trillion each year in lost productivity. That is almost the GDP of an entire country like Indonesia.

— Globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression at any given point in time, according to Alpinme.com.

— A stressful work environment triggers five critical mental health disorders: Depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar Ddsorder and addictions, according to Alpinme.com.

We believe we hire people for their intelligent mind, but unfortunately, that’s not true. We all come with our intelligent and emotional mind, and an imbalance in our emotional mind can impact our cognitive ability. The accumulation of stress is known as “allostatic load” which can adversely affect brain regions such as the medial prefrontal cortex. High allostatic load is associated with depressive disorders. Therefore, in short, atrophy of brain regions, resulting from repeated stressful conditions, has a cognitive cost. Indeed, working memory, attention, response inhibition and cognitive ability have all been scientifically found to be impaired by stress.

So, based on these stats and scientific facts, it is indisputable that mental health should become a top agenda in every organisation. We need to work on our leadership team to empower them to handle stress and depression, personality challenges, remove the stigma around mental health and cascade it down to their team. Leaders need to believe that “leadership is not owned. It is rented, and the rent is due every day” and you pay that by nurturing your people, and making them feel safe.

We are professional! That’s a great statement. But when it comes to mental health, we need to strongly focus on being “personal”. Take care of each and every individual, support them in their challenge and build a system and a family of trust and wellbeing. And once that family is built, everyone makes your business – Personal. And that’s the way to success!

Gulneet Chadha is a prominent HR professional, a licensed RT therapist and a hypnotherapist on a mission to change lives and help individuals overcome their limiting beliefs and patterns. Views expressed are her own and do not reflect the newspaper’s policy. You can reach her at ask@gulneetchadha.com


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