What’s the difference between ‘stress at work’ and ‘stress caused due to work’? The former could lead to a few cusses under the breath. While the latter, is a major factor for concern.
While studies have proven that a little pressure is required to motivate employees, too much work pressure causes severe cases of stress. Tension and strain developed at the workplace due to factors like overbearing workload, unrealistic deadlines, and the worst, unwarranted harassment. Spreading awareness of stress caused due to work is as important as voicing your opinion against the wrong-doings.
What’s the Trigger?
An intolerable boss, unfriendly coworkers, poor work environment, lack of a career vision, double standard cooler jokes, nagging, taunting, stalking, misusing information, hacking into personal accounts, consistent negative critiquing, ‘bad touch’; the list is endless! The ultimate factors can however be categorized in two broad terms – Demotivation & Harassment.
When an employee feels undervalued or unappreciated, knows that there aren’t any development opportunities or has poor job security, the lethargy sub-consciously seeps in, causing antipathy towards work, while taking a toll on one’s personal front as well.
What Happens to Such Employees?
Some employees disrupt their personal life by making it an outlet of their anger and frustration they face at work. This could be blurring the thin line between their work-life balance. There are some individuals who keep repressing this anger, leading to physical ailments and mental illness. Some experience burnouts and even ‘contemplate suicide’.
A survey conducted by SHRM in 2016, states that ‘Lack of respect at the workplace or being underappreciated’ is the biggest factor that leads to stress, followed by working overtime. Most Indian employees claim that an understanding of mental health from their employers has been a rare circumstance, because their superiors are either unable to respond in the right manner or because they are insensitive.
What Do the Stats Say?
A survey conducted by 1to1help.net, one of India’s widely used providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), shows a rise in workers who contemplate suicide as a result of unmanaged stress, from 2-4% in 2016 to 8% in 2018.
Another survey administered by TimesJobs details that 7 out of 10 Indian employees are unhappy at their workplace. 50% of the 1,500 subjects are not at all satisfied with their current job, while only 30% of them feel happy at work. A staggering 80% find their jobs stressful and claim to not have learned a new skill at work. Just a handful (5% only) have been able to learn a new skill at work that benefits them professionally and otherwise.
How Are Certain Indian Companies Changing the Game?
Employers are providing services like counselling assistance, stress management programs, health awareness sessions, career guidance, etc. Some even offer perks like hobby classes, shopping vouchers, quarterly bonuses, and CSR activities.
Mahindra & Mahindra houses stress management and stress inhibiting systems for the welfare of their employees. The company introduced ‘mHappy’, an innovative method of providing counselling and professional support to all employees via online, offline, and telephonic channels. The employees are also mandated to take a 14-day annual leave so that they can de-stress and feel relaxed when they return. Yoga, health awareness, and meditation programs are held in addition to career coaching.
Many of these companies have tie-ups with EAPs to support their employees and change the work culture by creating an employee engaging environment. IBM claims to be one of the first organizations in India to introduce EAP in 2005. Their ‘Quick Fit’ program introduced earlier this year, offers a combination of diet counselling, physiotherapy, yoga, nutritional, and mindfulness advice. ‘Mitr’ an employee sensitization program also helps managers and employees identify peers who have stress issues and are depressed.
Voice of Tomorrow
This has also brought to life another ‘tabooed’ aspect at the workplace – Sexual Harassment. Over a period of time, suppressing the anger, without taking any action, the aggression gets converted into angst. A feeling that has often led individuals to quit their jobs.
The #MeToo moment has entered India. Known to be the ‘Revolution of working women’ raising their voice against the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act (SHOWWA) in 2013, this revolution has swept a million views on the viral videos going live, as they say, taking the internet by a storm.
While companies are taking steps to deal with stress and POSH at the workplace, stricter regulations and actions needs to be taken against sexual assaulters. No individual, be it a man or a woman, should endure sexual provocation at the cost of job security or career opportunities. Together we need to be able to support and guide every employee and employer who suffer from stress.