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HR and Matters of the Mind

Posted on 19 April 2021 in Business | Gabriel Chua

Matters of the Mind

It’s long been known that Singapore has been one of the most stressful countries to work in. Indeed, it has been estimated that 44% of Singaporeans suffer from burnout, which is 5% higher than the global average. Without question, this puts us at a greater risk of various mental-health issues such as depression and anxiety.This is actually made scarier by the fact that while 61% of employees trust their superiors to take care of their well-being, only 29% of HR leaders have a

concrete plan of action to deal with such issues. Given that October 10 has been marked as World Mental Health Day was established in 1992, marking that there has been acknowledgement and recognition of the importance of mental health since almost 2 decades ago. Yet, within the corporate environment, why then, largely, have no concrete measures been taken to consider the mental wellness of employees?

A Social Stigma

Culminating from a variety of factors, perhaps the most prominent reason as to why mental wellness is still not prioritised at work is not only the fear of going against the norm, but at the same time is a social stigma about speaking up regarding mental health. In Asian countries, employees tend to hide any signs of unhappiness for fear that it would make them seem unprofessional.

According to a comprehensive report published in 2019 by Profile Search & Selection, Asian employees were not willing to speak up in the event that they were suffering from mental-health

issues, with over 50% of those polled in Singapore indicating that conversing with their manager or colleagues regarding the topic was largely uncomfortable. All of which stems from the fear of being ashamed and even perhaps, being perceived as weak.

Unsurprisingly, a rigid organisational structure has also been touted as a cause to this stigma. According to the same survey, a large 40% of Singaporeans polled indicated that their respective employers were not willing to engage in dialogues pertaining to the acceptance of mental health issues. Given the common corporate culture in Asia’s tendency to glorify working to the bone, it is easy to see why such a reluctancy exists.

A Paradigm Shift

When it comes to combatting mental health issues, one thing is certain. We need a clear and consistent push for change to overcome Singapore’s entrenched culture of ignoring mental well-being. Indeed, without the support of higher ups and top management, such issues will continue to be swept under the rug. This all comes at the cost affecting employee performance, drastically lowering employee productivity. By how much exactly? To put things into perspective, according to the WHO , for every $1 invested into combatting standard mental health-issues, a return of $4 can be earned via raised health-conditions and workplace productivity. Indeed, for the holistic benefit of all organisations, the pervasive neglect of employees’ mental wellness ought to be left to the history books.

Breaking Down the Walls

To overcome Singapore's pervasive culture of mental wellness neglect, what kind of changes can organisations make?

To maintain employee wellness, a good start for Human Resources would be to identify non-verbal communicative red flags of mental health issues such as depressive or generalised anxiety disorder. Various mental health issues are more often than not hard to detect, even for experts in the field. Nevertheless, there exist certain tell-tale signs, such as sudden weight loss/gain, and changes in appearance, irritability and even tardiness. There is a need to be proactive, a willingness and dedication to conduct regular check-ins with your employees. Through constant dialogue, employers and employees will be able to develop and inter-personal relationship, you to identify red flags as soon as possible.

Moreover, sometimes, it is beneficial to think outside the box. Technology has come a long way and

can prove worthwhile to ensure that your employees have a clean bill of mental health. How so?

Take the case of Hyatt Hotels Corporation for instance. With a chain of luxury hotels worldwide, their employees often work long and odd shift hours serving hotel guests. Realising this, the management formed a partnership with Headspace, a wellness app that imparts various mindfulness and mental trainings. All employees are provided a free subscription to Headspace to help themselves look after their own wellbeing. All of this empowered Hyatt employees to go above and beyond in contributing at work, without a compromise toward their psychological state of mind. Indeed, this allowed Hyatt be more adept at prioritising the holistic wellbeing of their employees. This sentiment was further echoed by Mark Vondrasek, chief commercial officer at Hyatt Hotels Corporation. It is through this process undoubtedly, that the productivity and employee satisfaction levels of employees were raised such that the organisation was listed in in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2020 .

Indeed, when HR possesses the necessary foresight to think of big-brain solutions for traditional problems, untold benefits could result for their respective businesses.

Soldiering On

Before implementing new strategies however, it is always important to remember that being open with one another can help you support your employees through tough times. By expressing honestly and a willingness to communicate, it will go a long way in establishing a positive culture where both physical and mental wellness of employees are valued. However, a change in organisational structure is additionally required, where business decisions made have to factor in the considerations of workers. Through implementing a well-being scheme that provides useful tips and actionable plans to look after your employees’ mental health, processes and systems can be reconfigured to ensure that your organisation prioritises company individuals before anything and anyone else. It is through this that your business can truly focus on work with an emphasis on empowering employees at its very core, enabling new avenues for productivity growth and development of ingenuity.

In putting mind over matter, you should also be equipped with the best HR tools too to help you rest easy. With QuickHR’s comprehensive HR modules catering to Human Asset Management, Workforce Management and Human Capital Development, you will be empowered to streamline your organisations workflow and focus on dealing with the things that truly matter, building up capabilities for the next generation agile workforce.

Once again, we hope that you've enjoyed a good read. And remember, Think Now, Think Far, Think QuickHR.

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