Talk and start a dialogue: Paytm’s biggest mental health message to its employees
With the coronavirus pandemic staying put, conversations around mental health have become equally important, if not more, as physical health and hygiene, especially at a time when there’s an unemployment crisis, uncertainty about salaries, restrictions on movement, and an induced anthropophobia (the fear of people). Adding to that, there’s a feeling of working in a vacuum or a silo because of the work from home rules.
These added stresses are increasing burnout rates, apart from causing anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, a recent study called ‘COVID-19 Blues’, conducted by Bengaluru-based Suicide Prevention India Foundation, revealed.
Companies, in particular, are struggling with demotivated and creatively choked employees as caution fatigue settles in, and that’s hurting their already-battered bottom lines even more. But an increasing number of firms are waking up to the reality that happy employees mean more productivity, and HR departments are quickly becoming important bodies of intervention to drive the idea of holistic wellbeing.
Fintech gianthas been quite busy for the last couple of months, closing its acquisition of Raheja QBE Insurance as well as coming up with solutions for transactions in a locked-down India, but its focus on its employees’ mental health has not changed. The company’s most important message to workers has been to speak up and start a dialogue about what they are struggling with.
“Talking is the first step and the most important one. Once a dialogue starts, then it becomes easier to get help for any mental health and stress-related issues,” a company spokesperson said in a recent interview with YourStory.
The Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led startup says it has been running regular webinars with mental health experts, as well as fitness and ergonomic coaches for its employees so that they can understand how to deal with some common stresses, as well as work more effectively from home.
“These experts focus on addressing work from home-related stress, manage children better in lockdown, ergonomic home workspace, better sitting posture, among others,” Paytm says, adding it also runs weekly yoga sessions with meditation exercises that help in maintaining inner-calm.
Even just reminding people they aren’t alone during the pandemic is proving to be beneficial for their overall wellbeing, the company said. Its HR team and managers make it a point to frequently engage with employees, virtually, to create a sense of belonging to the team, as well as encourage them to speak up, reach out, and ask for help whenever they need it.
When an employee does approach the company seeking help, Paytm says it hears them out, understands their struggles, and then connects them with experts who can guide them through whatever they need help with. It plans to introduce an Employee Assistance Programme very soon to enable employees to get the help they need, directly.
Through all of its endeavours over the last four months – even before that – in creating awareness about mental health issues, the startup says its biggest takeaway has been that conversations help employees strengthen their bonds with the company, and contribute to building a healthy work culture.
“No one saw this pandemic coming and wasn't even prepared to face such a long lockdown and social isolation. Everyone is learning on the go and building the solutions while inspiring each other.”
“In this journey, together, we have learnt that disciplining the mind to work remotely and maintaining a work-life balance is extremely important. While we might not get everything right in one go, we are making all efforts to empathise with our colleagues and address all their concerns,” the company says.