Tips to create an environment for mental well-being of women in corporate world
If the workplace is to evolve into a friendly and nurturing environment where women can thrive both personally and professionally, it will need commitment and effort at the highest levels. Here are tips to create an environment for mental well-being of women in corporate world
The work towards wellbeing of women in the corporate world is not given the importance that it should but leaders who commit to women’s overall wellbeing get better work done for the business which makes their organisations better so, what can corporates do to improve the mental health of women in their organisations? If the workplace is to evolve into a friendly and nurturing environment where women can thrive both personally and professionally, it will need commitment and effort at the highest levels.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rashi Agarwal, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Expert, Educator and Content Creator, shared, “Considering returning back to work post-Covid pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of women; many have reported feeling stressed about less flexibility, household management issues, and difficulty leaving household chores to others as they try to balance both worlds. At work, we should have some policies that are gender-neutral as well as supportive. Mental health is a personal self-healing journey, but surely organisations can play a role by appointing ergonomics for people at work, having equal opportunities and equal pay, having mental health webinars, having health insurance that is supportive of mental illnesses, checking up on people if someone seems down, offering paid menstrual leave, and offering maternity leaves. The list goes on and on, as the work that has been done for women's mental health is good, but we still have a long way to go.”
Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director, Indian Subcontinent – International SOS, said, “While it is now universally acknowledged that the stress of corporate life can disproportionately affect women employees, the challenge of making work environments more conducive to improved physical and mental wellbeing has not been completely addressed. The first step towards a women-friendly workplace is fostering an understanding – of the various challenges, pressures and constraints that can impact them. This needs to come from the leaders, managers, colleagues and peers alike. Women across the world are increasingly ambitious, demonstrating dedication and a need to work in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace. A culture of safety and support, allowing women employees to speak up about their professional and personal challenges, needs to be built and maintained. Encouraging feedback and providing growth and professional development opportunities is no longer just a good-to-have.”
He advised, “In the post-pandemic world, encouraging a healthy work-life balance that allows flexibility and prioritizes well-being by providing resources like access to healthy food options, gyms, onsite wellness centres and counsellors is key. While some of this is easy, it is the mental wellbeing that organizations struggle with. Simply having an employee assistance program is no longer enough. A well thought-out mental health strategy that includes an annual program with goals and targets is important for women to feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns and seeking support when needed. Coupled with resources that can help manage stress, such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, and mindfulness training, this can be a game changer for women at the workplace. In my practice, I have witnessed an increased utilization of these services by women employees when they are offered at the workplace. If the workplace is to evolve into a friendly and nurturing environment where women can thrive both personally and professionally, it will need commitment and effort at the highest levels.”
Dr Kersi Chavda, Consultant Psychiatry, PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC at Mumbai, recommended:
- Reduce stigmatisation of mental health issues by having constant programmes by resource people who discuss common psychiatric diseases like depression, anxiety, sleep issues and addictions.
- Allow for flexible working hours. Most women have to shoulder housework and child and parent care equally. These impinge on her time. which may affect her work schedule. Flexible working hours help with this.
- Help them during their periods and during menopause, offer peer or professional support at such time.
- As a corollary, when a baby is born or very young, provide childcare options in the company.
- Create a workplace culture that allows women to feel nurtured and feel safe enough to voice their issues. The services offered should be utilised profusely, or else you are doing something wrong during its execution.
- Getting feedback at regular intervals helps to tweak the services to be more specific to the needs of the women.
- Recognition of work done: share in their successes. Support participation in activities that produce results.
- Align workplace policies towards Wellbeing and facilitate designs that allow for physical and mental health and socialisation.
- Finally, encourage a workplace culture that allows women to feel cared for and encouraged to convey their mental health issues. They need to feel that they are heard and not alone in their times of need.