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Job insecurity, longer working hours, social isolation are the three biggest challenges affecting Indian workers' mental well-being amid COVID-19

Job insecurity, longer working hours, social isolation are the three biggest challenges affecting Indian workers' mental well-being amid COVID-19
  • About 41% of the Indian professionals have voted that job and income insecurity as the biggest challenge to their mental well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The uncertain environment has forced employees to comply with employers' demands to work for longer hours.
  • LinkedIn is currently running a week-long opinion poll where nearly 2,500 people have participated so far.
Friday was done and dusted, but young Sid (name changed), an IT professional with just over a year experience, was burning the midnight oil to finish a work assignment. Friday evenings that were meant for catch-up sessions with friends, and playing online games has been replaced with work. He has not had time to think about any leisure activities over the past few months.

“What option do I have? I am less experienced than anyone, and I’d love to keep my job right now,” he said.

He is not alone. With work from home (WFH) becoming the new normal, employees feel the increased pressure, resulting in anxiety and burnout. One of the crucial reasons behind this is longer working hours and employers’ pressure to be available all the time.

According to a LinkedIn opinion poll, about 41% of the Indian professionals have voted that job and income insecurity is the biggest challenge to their mental well-being amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The feeling of social isolation was another challenge that workers are facing.



"I believe employees are experiencing stress owing to 2 primary changes effected by the pandemic. First, our routine has been disrupted, which has completely taken away a sense of order or discipline we had in our lives. Second, interpersonal relationships, which led to the so-called 'office fun' , have been completely lost. You cannot any longer walk up to your friend's desk, or go for an evening tea with them," Vikas Bansal - Chief Human Resource Officer at Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, told Business Insider.

COVID-19 impact: Working from home means working more
Coronavirus is likely to leave a much deeper hole in the world economy than any other economic depression in history. The economic fallout of the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health, even at work.

The uncertainty weighs heavily, and the layoffs and pay cuts witnessed in the initial months of the pandemic has kept everyone on tenterhooks. For years, employees have been working late occasionally to be in their manager's 'good books.'

However, COVID-19 has changed the WFH game. Indian workers are working hard to retain their jobs. It does not help that the government's latest labour reforms provide more flexibility to employers of smaller firms to hire and fire employees without government approval.

The other crucial factor is 'time.' Before COVID-19, millions of Indians spent a minimum of two to four hours commuting. Now that employees are confined to working from home and saving on this travel time, employers expect people to work longer hours.

LinkedIn users have expressed a need to regulate working hours to sustain productivity. Some of them also believe that this WFH set-up adds to lethargy.

“The key to maintaining your sanity in such toxic situations is to become aware of your self-worth and communicate openly with colleagues,’ according to Anjali Gupta, CEO & Founding Partner, Four Founders PR.

Dr Jini K Gopinath, Chief Psychology Officer at YourDost, believes companies should be mindful of mental health issues and encourage open discussions around it. Ever since the pandemic, Dr Gopinath has listened to people who have complained about their productivity levels dipping or have seen their talented colleagues getting demotivated.

The ripple effects of this can be seen in employees’ familial relationships as well. People are reporting instances of increased ‘frustration level’ with their partners. Dr Gopinath suggests identifying two or three activities — like reading a book — that we used to do indoors and do that for at least an hour dail

Flexibility, inclusivity, and empathy is the need of the hour. As we navigate these uncertain times over the coming months, it is time that even workplaces take cognizance of the need to create and sustain mentally healthy workplace cultures and place equal importance on their employees' mental well-being.

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