Employees’ poor mental health costs Indian employers $14 billion per year, according to a survey
According to Deloitte’s Mental Health Survey, poor mental health of employees costs Indian employers about USD 14 billion per year in absenteeism, decreased productivity, and attrition. Globally, there has been an ongoing rise in mental health problems, which has been made worse by the appearance of COVID-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 15% of the world’s mental health burden is borne by India. Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) said in a statement that it conducted a survey on “Mental health and well-being in the workplace” to examine the current state of mental well-being among Indian workers.
The survey explores the top stressors from the viewpoint of the employee and provides an estimate of the annual economic cost to Indian businesses due to poor employee mental health. The biggest factor affecting the mental health of the professionals surveyed is workplace stress, according to about 47% of them, followed by financial and COVID-19 difficulties. According to the report, “these stressors manifest in a variety of ways, affecting both the personal and professional facets of an individual’s life; frequently with associated social and economic costs.” Poor mental health “costs Indian employers approximately USD 14 billion per year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition.”
Presenteeism refers to a phenomenon of showing up for work while feeling mentally exhausted and functioning at low productivity. According to the statement, these expenses “build up over time and are incurred when poor mental health impacts how individuals deal with daily stressors and are unable to thrive in their work environment.”
The survey found that 80% of Indian workers reported having mental health issues in the previous year. Despite these concerning figures, 39% of the affected respondents are discouraged from managing their symptoms due to societal stigma. The survey also revealed that, at work, 33% of all respondents persisted in doing so despite having poor mental health, while 29% took time off and 20% resigned in order to better manage their mental health.
Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte Global, commented on the study’s findings, stating that “mental health has been a real issue, and the challenges of the past two years and beyond have brought conversations about mental health at work to the forefront.” According to him, the study shows that businesses must prioritise their employees’ mental health and well-being. “It is critical that senior leaders play a significant role in destigmatizing mental health challenges within their organisations,” he said. “We must take the necessary steps to create an environment where employees’ well-being is prioritised, and they have access to the support they require so that everyone can thrive.”
“Mental health-related challenges are not new to the Indian workforce,” says Charu Sehgal, Partner and Life Sciences and Health Care Leader at DTTILLP, “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 are there a large number of employees affected, but the level of difficulty is also high, exacerbated by performance-oriented cultures anchored in long and demanding work schedules, economic uncertainty, and peer comparison (particularly on social media platforms), she said.
She continued by stating that while the majority of Indian corporations understand the value of employee wellbeing, the use of mental health measures at work is still minimal, consisting primarily of a few sporadic events and the use of outside employee assistance programmes. Employers have the opportunity to hit reset and fundamentally re-evaluate ways of working to address root causes and drive greater inclusion and well-being through enabling talent policies, given the generational shift in our workforce.
“Raising awareness and destigmatizing mental health challenges can help employees access assistance earlier,” she added. “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, as well as create a culture of trust to ensure long-term benefits for employees as well as the organisation.”
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