As the ongoing second wave of the pandemic exacerbates the pressure on teams and individuals, more Indian companies are making mental health an urgent priority for businesses. Live meditation, mental health sessions with specific focus on vulnerable groups, extended weekends, special holidays, free subscription to wellbeing apps and 24×7 counselling helplines —companies are running a series of initiatives to help stressed-out employees, with senior leaders playing increasingly active roles in the process.
At Genpact, the CEO and senior leaders communicate often through various channels across all levels of the organisation, EY’s leadership team does regular virtual connects. The Edelweiss Group has regular outreach programmes and townhalls by the leadership to express solidarity and support with employees.
“Our leaders hold a pivotal role in the recovery — they are the company-wide anchors to help ease concerns and rally teams,” said Piyush Mehta, Genpact’s chief HR officer.
“We have initiated small sessions, by business, with no agenda — so people can just talk about what is on their mind, and the support they need. We built an AI chatbot (Amber) to check in with our employees to capture immediate concerns and needs so we can support them better,” he added.
To ensure that employees do not feel isolated, EY has recently introduced EY Social — its inhouse platform of hobby clubs. The India leadership team has been conducting regular virtual connects with teams through forums like counselling family, regular team huddles, virtual townhalls, etc.
Companies such as ICICI Lombard, Snapdeal, MakemyTrip, Diageo and Publicis Sapient are also focused on mental health and wellbeing.
“We have been organising emotional counselling sessions, yoga and meditation sessions and collaborated with therapists and experts from the field of stress and anxiety management for consultations,” said Yuvaraj Srivastava, Group CHRO, MakeMyTrip.
Diageo has an employee assistance programme to provide counselling services. They are also conducting mental wellness sessions: the ones for employees cover effective stress management, avoiding digital burn-out among other issues, while those for line managers focus mostly on how to manage teams in terms of mental wellness.
Snapdeal is providing its employees and family members access to licensed counsellors, organising meditation and breathwork classes; Publicis Sapienthas mental health first aiders and sessions with specific focus on women, people facing domestic violence, etc.
Adobe India has company-wide day os every third Friday as well as free access to meditation and wellbeing applications like Headspace and LifeDojo.ICICI Lombard has introduced flexible working — no meetings prior to 9amand after 7pm and no weekend/holiday meetings. L’Oreal will be hosting sessions for people managers leading teams to train them to better manage productivity with empathy.
“HR teams are in constant touch with the employees to build psychological morale and extend support to access quality and affordable healthcare. I speak with every Covid-impacted employee to offer support and guidance, which helped me understand the ground-level challenges they face,” said Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, Head of HR (global) and corporate quality, CSSCorp.