Mental health is no longer considered a taboo subject. In the last couple of years, the corporate world has recognized and embraced the fact: mental health has a direct impact on employees’ productivity. But it was the year 2020 that acted as a catalyst and started a chain reaction that took this issue to all quarters of the society, from the backyard to the multistoried MNCs.
Congratulations to the people who worked to generate mental health awareness. It is a job well done.
But my question is – what next?
- Is it enough to encourage people to talk about their emotional problems, without any solutions or actions in-sight?
- Are the mental health issues among employees only due to job loss or workload or inappropriate work-life balance?
Of the total attrition in 2020, not all of it was due to contraction in the economy. There were instances where people with new-age skills replaced the employees who could not keep up with the change. Digitalization was the most impactful by-product of the pandemic and companies/employees who could not adapt were out of the race. This brings me to the most important point.
The post-pandemic mental stress in employees is regarding keeping up with the change.
Yes, they have a job right now in the market where millions of people are trying to get on the other side. For how long? No longer people have the comfort of doing the same work for years to end and expect growth. Leave job enhancement, this attitude in today’s time can lead to negative consequences.
- What to do? The answer is simple – keep yourself updated.
- How, you ask? Learn; throughout life.
Easier said than done, right? The hype around the work-life balance has forced many to become too comfortable at the workplace and the home. Weekdays are about work, and the weekend is mandatory to spend with family and friends. The happy news: there is a way out!
Being a software technology company, we have recognized and incorporated in our culture the principle of continuous skill enhancement. The core idea: to encourage employees to keep their minds open and attitude receptive towards learning. Irrespective of the position they hold or years worked in the organization. And the employer’s responsibility to take steps for career development for employees at the workplace itself.
Steps companies can take.
- Introduce development programs. The best way to support skills enhancement is by bringing the initiative into the system. It can be as simple as a program where employees can join a course relevant to their area of expertise or interest and after finishing, they can seek reimbursement for the fee paid.
- Partner with industry experts. Some platforms join hands with organizations and offer a wide variety of online courses. Employees willing to upskill can ask the company for application access, browse and choose the course they wish to pursue. The company can also invite topic experts to deliver sessions in their field.
- Define policies. Skill enhancement and career development are not possible if there is no guiding document for the team. Imagine: due to a lack of policy, employees forgo necessary training, and in the long run, it renders the company’s tech stack useless for the future market. Hence, outline policies that mandate minimum numbers of training sessions each employee must take in a year; mandatory attendance; proactive attitude towards learning, etc.
- Most importantly, listen. As the company grows, it becomes difficult to track specific training needs for each employee. This is where the role of team leaders or managers come into play. When people are encouraged to take up development classes, they research and approach leaders for approval. Do not overlook such suggestions because chances are the course can benefit both the parties (company and employee). Evaluate first, and then give feedback, possibly with a reason in case of a rejection.
Actions that employees must take.
- Actively participate in the initiative and make efficient use of resources provided by the company for development.
- Keep themselves in sync with updates in areas of expertise (or complimentary areas) and evaluate with current skill set.
- Express their opinions and give honest feedback on ways to improve the skill-building programs.
- Companies are spending resources (time and money) to keep the workforce ready for the future. The onus is on the employees to deploy their learnings in daily practice instead of expecting to be spoon-fed.
How does your company ensure the skill building of its people? What policies and steps they’ve taken to ensure maximum participation? If you have answers to these questions, I’d like to read and take inspiration from them. Please share your story with me here.