While mental health issues have risen globally over the years, the onset of the pandemic saw a 25 per cent increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. In India alone, according to a recent survey by Deloitte, 80 per cent of the workforce reported having mental health issues in the past year. Out of these, 47 per cent attributed their condition to work-related stress. The survey also revealed that one-third of the respondents continued to work despite their condition and about 20 per cent resigned to address their issues. This attrition, presenteeism, and absenteeism have cost Indian employers an estimated $14 billion per year.
So, what can be done?
Fortunately, many employers are now convinced that supporting an employee’s mental well-being is an essential part of their business and are actively working towards tackling this complex challenge with easily implementable solutions.
Integrating mental health support in your collaboration tools
Here are seven ways in which employers can support mental health through the use of their collaboration tools:
- Ensure an easy and employee-friendly onboarding process: Starting a new job is one of the most stressful moments in life. The first two weeks are crucial to building a positive work environment for new employees. The process of settling in and getting up to speed can be made easier using #channels to induct, welcome and help employees connect with their teams, even before they join the office physically.
- Establishing connections and support: Go one step further and help forge connections between new and existing employees, using one of the various apps that sit in your collaboration space’s ecosystem. They can help create a buddy system or empower internal mentors to make the new joiners feel welcome and part of the workplace, easing the stress of adjusting to a new environment.
- Take regular feedback from the employees: We are living through the biggest work experiment in decades. Collaboration tools equip employers to embrace and adapt to the constantly evolving workplace models. Workflows can be used to get inputs on what works and what doesn’t, as well as to provide employees with a platform to give insights, and feel heard and valued irrespective of whether they are working from home or in the office.
- Connect with your employees regularly: 46% of remote workers believe the best managers are the ones who check in frequently and are easily accessible. Regular check-ins make employees feel emotionally safe at the workplace. Collaboration tools can be used effectively to set up reminders, provide workflows to capture and share what thoughts are ‘top of mind’ beforehand, and support the discussion through huddles.
- Develop a strong workplace culture: Create a culture that unites employees and sets a clear direction. Emojis and GIFs can be a great way to foster a feeling of belongingness between employees. They allow you to express a sense of fun and convey a broad range of emotions in a way that words often can’t. Some organisations even develop custom emojis that represent different elements of their culture, so they can be used to celebrate actions and behaviour that are up to the corporate values.
- Create a network of Mental Health Ambassadors: Creating channels for different groups and purposes can play a key role in strengthening communication within the organisation. Use your collaboration tools to create a community of Mental Health Ambassadors. They can create a framework for understanding, managing, and promoting mental health at work while sharing information on how individuals can manage mental health at work.
- Provide mental health breaks: Destigmatise breaks and time off from work by encouraging employees to take personal time off (PTO) to recharge and address their mental health and well-being. Collaboration hubs can aid in flagging your out-of-office status to ensure that staff know you are away, so you get the downtime needed to rebalance and recharge.
One of the biggest reasons that prevent employees from sharing their mental health issues is the stigma surrounding it. Collaboration tools, their features, and the culture they engender can provide a powerful base from which an ecosystem that empowers people and organisations to address mental health issues at the workplace can be built.