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Only 13% leaders have received policy support for mental health

A new report by Gi Group highlights how the pandemic has changed workplace conversations around mental health awareness

Over 60% of leaders believe they should act as role models for mental wellbeing. 
Over 60% of leaders believe they should act as role models for mental wellbeing.  (iStock)

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An impact of covid-19 has been the increased awareness and importance of mental wellbeing at workplace. While organisations have been offering counselling services and trainings, only 13% leaders get adequate support from their organisation to frame mental health policies. 

Also Read: Mental health mentors are finally entering the workspace

What's interesting to note is the contrasting views leaders and employees have when it comes to mental wellbeing, as highlighted by the All in the Mind: The Leadership Factor 2022 report released today.

While 60% leaders agreed that employee burnout should be completely prevented, only 28% felt they actively do something to reduce workplace stress. Less than half (43%) of the leaders felt they were greatly or solely responsible to create a safe workplace and ensure employees’ mental wellbeing was taken seriously. A feeling not mirrored by the employees, where 77% put the onus on leaders of the organisation. 

The second edition of the report, brought out by HR solutions and service provider Gi Group, saw participation from over 1,000 employees and 500 leaders from among 350 MSME and large organisations. The aim of the report was to understand leadership factors that affect mental health of employees. 

“There is a lot of talk (abut mental wellbeing) but no policy changes. Most organisations have been making small starts,” says Sonal Arora, country manager, Gi Group Holding, India. Besides counselling or flexible working, Arora said there is nothing else organisations are offer from policy point of view such as mental health laves, sabbatical, or bereavement leave. Only a few organisations and MNCs currently offer these benefits. “The goal of the report is to highlight attention to both the topic and preparedness of leaders,” she adds.

Majority of employees and leaders, however, agreed that workplace psychological safety plays a major role in mental health. And this can be built in the form of taking accountability, delegating work effectively and assuming responsibility, the participants felt. About 61% leaders believed that a leader’s personality and behaviour also played a big role its impact on the subordinates. Emotional maturity and transparency exhibited by leaders were other factors that also influenced the mental health of the staff.

Also Read: Why good mental health has little to do with a 4-day work week

The impact of pandemic on leadership behaviour cannot be ruled out. A quarter of leaders rethought their interpersonal behaviour and leadership styles in order to decrease overall stress levels in the organisation. On the other side, 33% employees pointed out how their leaders’ attitude and behaviour had deteriorated. 

The report also highlights how employees have been gender agnostic about leaders in terms of personality traits that help or don’t help in creating a safe workplace environment. For instance, when it came to the trait of being anxious, empathetic, decisiveness, confidence and righteousness, both male and female leaders were rated equally. However, for certain traits like being approachable and supportive, women leaders were rated higher than their male counterparts. 

Vast majority of employees also felt leaders need to be trained on attitude, empathy and interpersonal skills. However, a mere 28% leaders had undergone such training conducted by their organisation.  “It’s not a costly affair but will go a long way,” says Arora.  

Also Read: Three things you should know about mental health


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