Money over mental health: Are we still prioritising our people?

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Money over mental health: Are we still prioritising our people?

Give or take three years back when the novel coronavirus held us hostage, who would have thought it was about to bring a new world order? It took a respiratory disease to teach us not only about physical hygiene but also about the cleanliness of the mind. Isolated and alone, we learned the importance of sanity as it grew more and more fragile. The result was incredible – a renewed focus on mental health, increased efforts to maintain interpersonal relationships, and an overall rise in empathy. All these factors touched our workplaces and transformed how we function as teams and individuals. Or so we thought they did.

A global electronic manufacturer in the heart of Asia recently adopted the “closed loop” system to keep production up and running. While the concept of ensuring uninterrupted productivity by enabling employees to live and work onsite sounds like a great antidote against the Covid hazard, implementing it safely is easier said than done. To counter the same, hefty bonuses were offered to workers who were ready to put in the work despite the health risks.

The question here is, is it even possible to offset the fundamentals of culture, experience, and mental health with monetary compensation? Go back to the pre-Covid era and this question would have sounded ludicrous to many. Today, however, these are valid asks major stakeholders are still trying to decode. A healthy work-life balance, flexibility at work, diversity, health and well-being are non-negotiable. Although money is still a major motivator, these are the aspects that are defining the post-Covid workplace across the globe.

How, then, do we get back on track? We must go back to the pandemic and retrieve what we learned from it. The first and most notable among them is empathy. Covid-19 displayed the power of kindness and empathy on a global scale. Flustered by similar uncertainties and distress, people all over the world could relate to each other and approach them with humanness and camaraderie.

The changing narrative of professionalism was brought about by this new approach of EQ. Remote and hybrid work models broke the rigidity of work by offering employees flexibility to work as per their comfort zones. From parents who needed care to children who unwittingly featured in work meetings, it wasn’t unusual for employees to discover new facets of each other. All while work continued at the right pace.

This seems like the opportune moment to jog our memories a bit and revisit what we promised ourselves during peak Covid. We prioritized humanity and saw how it made us better employers, employees, coworkers, and people, in general. Yes, cutting our people some slack doesn’t come easy when we have targets to fulfill and products to sell. It does look like a sustainable means to achieve our goals because no matter where we plan to reach, we need our people to get there.

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