While working with my colleague Jeff Pfeffer, I was horrified when I found data that more than half of our private sector employees in India suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. Then I found a survey in which almost 80% of them accepted the increased stress from the Kovid outbreak. We have all experienced some of these: ambiguity of work / life motivated from work to home, ambiguity in performance indicators, anxiety over financial matters, and the ‘always on’ mobile phone to call one’s employer. Add to that sleep apnea, relationship problems, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise and the stress of repaying a monthly loan.
Management toxicity mostly affects Indians who are already suffering from heart disease and diabetes.
We have found that employers who attract, retain and motivate the productive workforce do not do so by keeping employees physically and mentally healthy, by providing free food or beautiful facilities such as sleep pods or dog creche. Instead, what employees need is less stressful work environments.
Research suggests that close relationships with family and friends buffer the effects of psychosocial stress. Those who are less socially integrated are more likely to become ill and show a higher mortality rate. A major survey of over 200,000 people found that 75% did not have a trusted friend at work. This raises the question of how companies can promote a culture of strong relationships and social support between individuals.
However, many of my C-Suite colleagues strongly support the ban on social-media access at work. Their causes range from security threats and low productivity to bandwidth disruption and political and religious intensity. But the truth is, most of us can’t stay away from random WhatsApp gossips while at work. Need data? 77% of employees use social media at work.
Allowing employees to Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, etc. can be beneficial in many ways: the occasional break for the mind helps productivity; Professional networking helps business and personal growth both internally and externally; It encourages asking for answers and resolving business issues quickly; And it builds strong bonds with coworkers.
Good employers aim for harmony and peace of mind among their employees. It helps to implement a sense of community in the organization. As workers strive to deliver their best, integration increases courage and productivity. Even if their emoluments are cut, they are more likely to stay with the company longer. To achieve this, I propose the following:
One, check your corporate vision with enough inputs from employees — even if the chief executive thinks it’s already great. Exercise earns the respect of every employee. Ask people at each level to participate. The driver or security guard is also counted as human capital.
Two, make sure employees at all levels are subject to your corporate policy. No one should look beyond the rules — not even the chairperson. When the rules are bent for certain positions, conflict in various parts of the organization raises its head, resulting in inequality in the workplace. People feel valued if the same rules apply to everyone.
Three, bring as much diversity as possible into the organization. Not only nominal representations along with fashion themes, these can also be seen as PR gimmicks. Cool campus-recruitment posters are almost inadequate. You need to not only recruit people from all castes and religions, but also make sure they are respected, especially in the current political climate. Train individuals against prejudice and make sure not to tolerate hateful or offensive comments or behavior. As Unilever and IBM did, the Directorate of Diversity. Organize training and social events at each level that embrace different cultures in fun settings.
Fourth, let people speak their minds without fear of repercussions. Managers should encourage subordinates to stay open and share their frustrations. Take complaints seriously and have a whistleblower system that looks more than just a formality. Those who cause unnecessary vibrations should be surrounded or taken out. Rewarding the consistent productivity of employees and teams can be a good idea.
Five, an employee recognition program that honors those who live up to corporate values. Promoting internal candidates to higher positions also helps to consolidate the value system of the organization. The Tata Group has paid a price for violating this principle, with non-Tata people holding key positions half a decade ago. Since then it has returned to its standard.
Sixth, encourage employees to equate what they consider to be their life purpose with community benefits, as much as possible. As one of my batch colleagues said, it is important for people to drive this advantage to achieve better work-life balance and achieve company harmony. If human capital is very important to your organization, then cultivate it with your business strategy and vision. They are happy when their values and purpose match the values of their owners and show very good performance.
M. Munir is a non-profit co-founder of the Medici Institute and a shareholder in Silicon Valley-based deep-tech firm Resonant Corp. His twitter handle is Munirmuh