Hint: It’s more than you think.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the phrase ‘employee wellness’? Chances are you’re thinking of physical fitness, exercise, healthy eating, and prevention or management of lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, etc. But an essential component that we seem to lose sight of is employees’ emotional wellness.
In fact, as per a survey conducted by LinkedIn in 2020, only 23% of Indian professionals are offered emotional support resources by their employers. This is alarming considering 55% of Indian working professionals reported a rise in their stress and anxiety levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not just this. According to a study conducted by Assocham, 46% of the Indian workforce suffers from some form or other of stress. Another study by Microsoft found that around a third of workers in India face increased burnout at work.
To put it mildly, India Inc is stressed. So, the question is, what cost are companies paying by ignoring employee emotional wellness? At a very basic level, an obvious effect is a loss of productivity. But let’s dig a little deeper and look at the factors which lead to this and their effects:
In a 2016 study, the work absence rate of employees with poor mental health is around 5% higher than those with good mental health.
Not only does this affect an employee’s individual productivity, but also their team’s productivity. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), co-workers of employees who are absent from work are perceived to be 29.5% less productive when covering for them.
Fall in morale
High employee morale is absolutely essential for the success of a business and cannot be undervalued. A company’s culture and even profitability are a direct consequence of employee morale. According to a 2017 study, positive employee morale can boost a business’ profitability by 21%.
But a lack of adequate emotional support can cause employees’ morale to plunge significantly. During the 2020 Covid pandemic, Indian employees reported up to a 26% net increase in feelings of loneliness. Consequently, as per SHRM, 44% of business leaders reported a fall in their employees’ morale levels due to isolation.
Loss of talent
The provision of good emotional wellness support is something that working professionals are increasingly looking at to choose who they want to work with. According to a 2018 survey, 87% of Indian professionals said that workplace wellness programmes are important for them and help them choose between two potential employers.
The cons of losing out on attracting talent are well known and can adversely affect the future success of a company.
Overall, if employee emotional wellness is ignored, it directly affects the company’s bottom line. As per the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy a stunning US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. India alone is expected to suffer economic losses to the tune of US$ 1.03 trillion between 2012–2030 due to mental health conditions alone. It would be an understatement to say that the economic impact on India Inc is enormous.
What’s more, there is a huge return on investment organisations can reap from investing in employee emotional wellness resources. As per research for every dollar put into the treatment of common mental disorders, there is a return of four times that in improved health and productivity.
It is overwhelmingly obvious that if organisations continue to ignore their employees’ emotional wellness, they run the risk of incurring massive losses both in financial and human capital. On the flip side, any investment made towards ensuring employee emotional wellness is well worth it and an absolute necessity for any and every organisation.
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