Poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around USD 14 billion annually in absenteeism, lower productivity and attrition, according to Deloitte’s Mental Health Survey.
Over the years, mental health issues have seen a steady rise globally, accentuated further by the onset of COVID-19.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for nearly 15 per cent of the global mental health burden.
To analyse the current state of mental well-being amongst Indian employees, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) undertook a survey titled ‘Mental health and well-being in the workplace’, it said in a statement.
The survey dives into the top stressors from an employee’s perspective, along with an estimate of the yearly economic cost to Indian companies arising from poor employee mental health.
Around 47 per cent of professionals surveyed consider workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health, followed by financial and COVID-19 challenges.
“These stressors manifest in multiple ways, affecting both the personal and professional facets of an individual’s life; often with associated social and economic costs,” it said.
The report estimates that “poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian employers around USD 14 billion per year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition”.
Presenteeism is the phenomenon of attending to work while under mental stress and hence, performing at low productivity.
“These costs build up over time and are incurred when poor mental health impacts how individuals deal with day-to-day stressors and are unable to thrive in their work environment,” the statement said.
According to the survey, 80 per cent of the Indian workforce has reported mental health issues during the past one year.
Despite these alarming numbers, societal stigma prevents around 39 per cent of the affected respondents from taking steps to manage their symptoms.
Additionally, the survey found that at the workplace, 33 per cent of all respondents continued to work, despite poor mental health, while 29 per cent took time off and 20 per cent resigned to better manage their mental health.
Commenting on the findings of the study, Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO, said, “Mental health has been a real issue. The challenges of the past two-plus years have brought conversations about mental health at work to the forefront”.
The study, he said, demonstrates that businesses must prioritise the mental health and well-being of their people.
“It is essential that senior leaders play a major role in destigmatising mental health challenges within their organisations. We need to take the necessary steps to create an environment where employees’ well-being is prioritised, and they have access to the support they need so that everyone can thrive,” he said.
Adds Charu Sehgal, Partner and Life Sciences and Health Care Leader, DTTILLP, that “mental health-related challenges are not new to the Indian workforce, but these have come to the forefront in light of COVID-19, and a younger workforce that is open to speaking about their individual well-being”.
Not only is the number of impacted employees large, but the degree of the challenge is also high, accentuated by performance-oriented cultures anchored in long and demanding work schedules, economic uncertainty, and peer comparison (especially on social media platforms), she said.
She further added that while most Indian corporates have recognised the importance of employee well-being, the share of mental health measures at the workplace is still limited, with a few sporadic events and the use of third-party employee assistance programmes.
With the generational shift that we are witnessing in our workforce, employers have the opportunity to hit reset and fundamentally re-evaluate the ways of working to address root causes and drive greater inclusion and well-being through enabling talent policies.
“Raising awareness and destigmatising challenges pertaining to mental health can help employees access assistance early. As responsible corporate citizens, the onus is on India Inc. to act and establish a framework to manage psychological health and well-being in the workplace and create a culture of trust to ensure long-term benefits for employees as well as the organisation,” she added.
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