Tangible benefits for employers investing in employee wellness programme: Adrit Raha

On average, for every rupee being spent on an employee wellness programme, employers get Rs. 132.33 as saving on absenteeism cost

As per a recent survey nearly half the employees in India suffer from some kind of stress and the proportion of workers at high risk of suicide due to unmanaged stress has grown to 8% of all counselling cases in 2018 from 2-4% two years ago. Considering, that on an average an individual spends over 90,000 hours of his/her life at the workplace, a strong case can be made to suggest that work plays a critical role in the degradation of mental and emotional health. There is little debate in the fact that work contributes significantly towards mental balance and a healthy workplace can go a long way in creating a healthy workforce.

In this interconnected world, employees seldom have the option to leave their work behind at the end of the day. There is no discontinuity from work or enough time to reinvigorate and rejuvenate. There is a constant need to be connected, to check work emails and respond to an office colleague. In this 24/7 work culture and with the world getting increasingly flat, one is rarely completely disconnected from work. The more time professionals spend on their work related affairs, the less they have for their families or for pursuing hobbies or other activities which can help them unwind. The skewed or non-existent work life balance further contributes to emotional and mental stress among professionals. This coupled with increasing peer and societal pressure to succeed at work, workplace harassments and lack of adequate support system, further exacerbates matters. 

Luckily, employers, policymakers and even individuals have realised the contribution of work towards mental and emotional wellbeing and are putting in place several measures to provide a more conducive and healthy work environment. The problem so far, with many such steps, has been the onus it puts on the professionals experiencing mental and emotional stress. A depressed employee is never going to pick up a phone and speak to a counsellor. If the individual would have that ability to figure the right course of action, he/she would not be struggling with stress and depression in the first place. So, the answer to address emotional and mental stress is not in providing more counsellors, but, with removing the stigma associated with seeking help and helping employees navigate to the right resource. Unburdening them from figuring out the choppy waters, would go a long way in creating a healthy workplace.

Paid time off’s, forced vacations, leave travel allowances, work from home policies and many such innovative options are also being put in place by employers to reduce the workload and its effect on mental balance. Onsite counsellors, mental and emotional health quizzes and daily tracking of activities with the use of AI/ML are some of the other options
being pursued by corporates to create a healthy workplace and reduce emotional and mental stress. As per a recent Assocham report, on an average for every rupee being spent on employee wellness programme, employers get Rs. 132.33 as a saving on absenteeism cost and Rs.6.62 back as reduced health care costs.

While Health is a state of mind, ‘Wellness’ on the other hand implies the state of being. It goes beyond the usual rhetoric’s and covers important aspects of mental and emotional wellbeing as well. The millennial workforce is no longer content with only physical health, but, looks up to their employers for providing more holistic wellness programs and more specifically one that addresses the growing concern of mental and emotional health. Professionals are increasingly cognizant of the perils of emotional and mental stress and that it is precursor to several lifestyle related disease such as diabetes, heart conditions,  hypertension and obesity among others. The relation between work and mental balance can no longer be side-lined.

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