March 09, Mumbai, India: With a world slowly recovering from the pandemic, the awareness around employees’ mental health in workplaces has been a critical point of conversation as organizations worldwide have tried to define the ‘future of work’. It’s essential to understand the impact managers have on employees’ mental well-being, and to that end, the Workforce Institute at UKG, Ultimate Kronos Group, surveyed 3400 employees across 10 countries. This report analyses the roles played by leaders in supporting employees’ mental health in and outside of work and the compromises employees are ready to make in order to prioritize their well-being.
“It is only through continued persistence that we have reached a point where the conversation around mental health is no longer a stigma. But we need to keep going and create ecosystems at work that support an individual overcoming such crisis to lead fulfilled lives at work and home.” Brian Reaves, Chief Belonging, Diversity, and Equity Officer at UKG, mentioned the importance of employees’ mental well-being.
He further added, “As the world keeps tumbling into one global crisis after another, it is very natural for employees and leaders alike to be stressed and anxious. So, now more than ever, companies need to seriously commit to caring for their people. But, sometimes all it takes is a little bit of humanity, humility, and authenticity to enable a healthy work environment where people genuinely enjoy themselves and the work they’re doing.”
Workers are tired, stressed, and feeling overwhelmed.
The survey found that in the case of a majority of employees, 69% of them, their managers have just as much of an impact on their mental health as their spouses and more than their doctors and therapists. In addition, employees feel that stress from work often has a significant effect on their personal lives; 71% of them say that it negatively influences their home life, and 62% think that it has a bearing on their relationships.
In India, 25% of employees state that they always have trouble getting started with their workday, and 26% of them always feel exhausted by the end of it. The findings of the report suggest that working long hours is the primary trigger for work-related stress amongst 33% of Indian employees. It is inevitable that this stress bleeds into work performance as 34% of employees find it hard to concentrate on their jobs, 31% are unable to build healthy relationships with fellow colleagues, and 26% experience decreased levels of productivity and performance.
Rewriting the Rules: It’s OK not to be OK.
However, with workplaces around the world gradually encouraging their employees to talk about their mental health, there is a significant shift in attitude as workers find comfort in unabashedly owning their experiences concerning mental well-being- the good and the bad. Nevertheless, there still is a long way to go as the report indicates that 30% of the employees in India only speak with their manager once a month regarding workload management. Further elaborating on the reasons behind the hesitation felt by them for not approaching their managers more often, employees state a myriad of reasons ranging from thinking that they wouldn’t care (19%), that they might be too busy (28%), or for simply wanting to deal with it on their own (33%).
Provide Better Support for Leaders: Your manager is stressed, too!
Looking at the other side of the table, the report finds that the situation is just as bad, if not worse, with managers, 46% of them, believing that they might end up quitting their jobs due to work stress within a year. People managers often go through paramount levels of stress as they shoulder the responsibilities of not just leading well but also ensuring the well-being of employees. A need for more talent is felt worldwide by companies when it comes to finding genuinely compassionate and authentic leaders. Therefore, it is all the more critical for organizations to equip their leaders with emotional intelligence and incorporate a value system in the workplace that encourages work-life balance.
Sumeet Doshi, Country Manager at UKG, India, stated in the findings of the report that “Employees, when driven by a positive sense of purpose at the workplace, tend to perform a lot better than they ever would when confronted with work-related stress on a daily basis. Organizations need to cultivate that culture of positivity and engagement by prioritizing the mental health of their employees as well as managers and leaders; there are no two ways about it. Investing in resources, technology-enabled or otherwise, that can help employees deal with their mental well-being is integral to the stability and sustainability of an organization because, as we believe it, a company is defined by its people. The people are its ultimate purpose.”