Several recent studies are sounding an alarm on employee well-being worldwide. A study by HP, in particular, highlights that only a fraction of surveyed workers perceive their job relationships as 'healthy', with profound implications for their mental and physical health.
In the US, mental health continues to decline in 2023. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in five Americans lives with some form of mental illness. A study by BrightPlan highlights financial stress, with a staggering 76% of C-suite and HR leaders feeling its impact. In India, a resounding sentiment echoes through the workforce: they prioritise quality of life over a hefty paycheck, as per a study by UKG. Across the seas in Singapore, the stakes are high—over a third of workers are navigating high-risk mental health terrain.
Companies and leadership are stepping up by investing on mental health benefits and expanding resources like life coaching, self-care apps, and comprehensive mental health insurance. However, the post-pandemic journey to mental well-being remains a ongoing expedition, shadowed by the specter of burnout, affecting leaders and employees alike.
We connected with three senior HR leaders based in Singapore to gain insights into how they are addressing the challenge of mental health for their teams and themselves.
Here, we distilled three crucial insights into mental health from their stories. For details, watch the video.
1. Well-being isn't an isolated entity
Mental well-being has rightfully taken centre stage in every organisation, says Subhankar Roy Chowdhury - Executive Director and Head HR - Asia Pacific & Japan at Lenovo. Yet, it's crucial to understand that mental well-being isn't an isolated entity. When we address mental well-being, we encompass all five vital aspects: body, mind, connection, purpose, and prosperity. Subhankar said, “We encourage employees to participate in various sports and recreational activities both within and outside the workplace. The mind is where we focus on providing psychological safety, reducing stress, and promoting a healthier work-life balance. Managers are equipped with the knowledge to assist employees in navigating through these challenges.”
2. AI and automation tools can liberate us
Tanya Heng, Vice-President, Human Resources, IBM Asia Pacific, attests to the transformative power of AI and automation in HR. This tech marvel not only saves time but also has a positive ripple effect on mental well-being. “AI and automation has transformed HR”, Tanya said, “liberating us from the confines of pen and paper and saving us countless hours.”
It empowers IBM staff to focus on high-value decision-making, Tanya argued. “I'm at the forefront of implementing AI and automation in my role at IBM, and I've personally experienced its positive impact on my mental health through our HR digital assistant,” Tanya said.
3. Mental health is a collective responsibility
For Andrew Newmark, CHRO, Asia Pacific (excluding China), Marriott International, it's not solely an individual concern, but a collective responsibility for companies and society at large. He stresses the crucial role of open discussions about mental well-being.
Mental health is a comprehensive aspect of our well-being, influencing our thoughts, emotions, actions, and how we manage stress and relate to others. “My journey towards mental health is an ongoing process, and I'm committed to refining my habits and learning from others along the way.”
Andrew’s toolkit includes advanced tracking tools, a commitment to regular physical activity, and deliberate disconnection from the digital world.