Hi everybody! This post was supposed to go out last week but it didn’t for two reasons: I had a terrible episode of depression and Krsna couldn’t make time for it either.
Anyway, along with the ‘We’re Listening’ series, where employees talked about their mental health at work, Krsna and I will also be bringing to you real-life stories of what employers are doing (or not doing) to take care of their employees’ mental health.
Since we are still on the subject of anxiety, that’s what today’s post will deal with. This is what one of the founders of a tech startup is doing to deal with anxiety at their workplace.
Are you aware of mental health issues in your workspace? If yes, how do you play an active role in supporting your employees?
I saw a lot of mental health issues as an employee in my previous company. Typically, stress and anxiety are what you see in any workplace. Left unmanaged, they push an individual towards an emotional breakdown.
Now that I am an employer, I try and see to it that my employees’ mental health is taken care of. Firstly, I ensure that work timings are flexible. I’ve also maintained good communication, I encourage that at all points of time. Lastly, I make sure that I am approachable and available for my employees. All of this requires me to be a good listener, to give my team ample respect and time.
Do you feel your mental health has taken a backseat or isn’t given priority since you are the boss?
Yes, this tends to happen, so as a founder, you need to take your mental health seriously. I do this by taking care of my personal development on three levels – physical, mental, and intellectual.
Does your company have facilities that tackle mental health Issues?
Today we are small, so no, we do not have facilities. But as a company, we encourage cultivating personal relationships irrespective of job titles. The idea is to treat every individual as a valuable human, not a disposable resource.
Have you been in a situation where an employee confided in you with a mental health issue? How did you help them deal with it?
Yes, an employee recently spoke with me about how they were experiencing anxiety and early signs of depression. What I did was listen carefully and let the person vent. I then suggested a few lifestyle changes, encouraged them to do things they enjoy and get better sleep.
Do you deal with anxiety at work? How do you cope with it?
Yes, of course. To cope, I remember why I started my company in the first place. The day that’s not a good enough reason to keep pushing through the anxiety, I stop work for the day as soon as possible. I then ensure that I do other things that are important and energy-boosting. For me it’s music, football, tennis, having a drink at one of my favorite pubs, spending time with my fiancé, friends, FaceTime with my family, etc.
Could you tell us about a situation in which your anxiety was at its peak? Do you know what triggered it? What did you do to deal with it?
Honestly, I can’t think of such an instance.
Do you believe we need to work on our work culture to support employees with mental health issues and improve their efficiency? What changes must be implemented in order to do so?
Definitely. HR needs to promote a healthy lifestyle and conduct sessions on how to maintain peace of mind in stressful situations. HR also needs to be available and approachable for employees 24×7.
The upper management too needs to have a deep understanding of these issues. It’s important to destigmatize mental illness at the workplace so that employees who are struggling with mental health issues can open up and talk about their problems without fearing discrimination. Simply talking is not enough, changes must be made so that the work environment is more favorable for these employees.
Does your employer address mental health issues at work? Let us know in the comments below.