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Prioritizing the Well-Being of Your Team

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Company Culture
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

21 July, 2021

Sameer Khanna
Sameer Khanna

SVP of Engineering at Pager

Sameer Khanna, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Pager, does more than talk the talk when it comes to the importance of the health of his employees.

Problem

After the insanity of the last eighteen months or so, many of us in the industry are feeling much more stressed than we were before. The uncertainty and the anxiety of whether or not one’s job would be waiting for them in the morning was not an easy thing for us to face every single day.

Those who were used to working in a physical office setting worried that they would not be as effective when collaborating with the rest of their teams. The isolation took its toll as personal issues began to bubble up to the surface. None of us were equipped to deal with mental stress like this.

I think that companies should be aware that people are going through these emotions. There is plenty that can be done from an organizational perspective to help struggling employees find balance in their work, as well as in the rest of their lives. The health of the individual should be a top priority.

Actions taken

I work for a healthcare company, so, naturally, we wanted to set an example when we saw that the mental well-being of our team was in jeopardy. Our management was now much more aware of these feelings of anxiety and the effect that it was having on the work being done. They made a point to begin accounting for these things; they also learned that work was not the only source of stress for many of our team members. We took the matter very seriously.

One of the first things that we did in response to the feedback we were getting from our employees was to give everybody a wellness day across the entire company. Once a month, we gave everybody the day off. We advised them to spend the time at home to reflect and to collect themselves before returning to work. It was a popular idea.

Another initiative was a program involving our people operations team. We scheduled sessions and brought in some outside help to teach our employees coping mechanisms. These sessions acted as a group forum where they were able to represent themselves honestly and to express what concerned them most. We held virtual meditation sessions every other week or so. It was very therapeutic for them.

I try to be very vocal in advocacy of the health of the team. We want people to feel supported by our organization. Many of our employees were also undergoing hardship in terms of their health, as well — some had family members who had fallen victim to the virus, and others were even bedridden themselves. Without question, one of the things that we have in our policy is accommodation for extenuating medical circumstances.

Lessons learned

  • Mental well-being is just as much a part of your health as anything else. If somebody comes forward with a problem that they’re having, that’s something that we, as leaders, need to take seriously. Work very closely with individuals like this so that they may continue to meet the requirements that their job demands.
  • The message that we wanted to send to our employees was that their health mattered more than our bottom line. We encouraged them to prioritize themselves, to always be thinking about how they’re feeling, and to be proactive in their communication when they sense something amiss. As a company, we were there to support them.
  • If an employee needs to take some time for themselves, give them space to address those health-related issues. It is no different than a physical impairment.

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