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Companies working hard to destress workaholic staff

Admin| Dec 16, 2016 - 12:26 AM India

Companies working hard to destress workaholic staff

Technology and job pressure may have buried the traditional 9 to 5 schedule in most corporates, but managers are now worried that being in the office loop beyond set working hours could lead to aquick burnout.

To fix this, companies like Adobe, Genpact, PwC, Mindtree, Lemon Tree Hotels and Thomas Cook, which have jobs that are practically 24x7, are actively tracking employees’ leave and holiday usage, offering counselling and encouraging extracurricular activities to help them disconnect from their workload.

For instance, Ray, an employee of a large business process management firm who likes putting in extra hours at work, has been asked to take a vacation.

Workaholics, or people who welcome long office hours and being constantly accessible to their employer, are fast turning into a subject of worry for senior management. “Workaholics become socially and emotionally disconnected because they’re focused so completely on one thing. This leads to a breakdown in familial connections, and adversely impacts their physiological and psychological health,” said lifestyle expert Ray Titus.

Pankaj Bansal, CEO of HR solutions company PeopleStrong, said every company wants its employees to be fully productive, but a workaholic is an “organisational liability”. He said companies should coach such employees on working intelligently for a better work-life balance.

Some companies are doing just that. At Thomas Cook India, employees’ attendance is monitored. Those who are seen to be regularly putting in very long hours are identified and counselled. “We have tieups with counselling centres and encourage — but not mandate—such employees to get help,” said Mona Cheriyan, head of HR. The company does not allow for leave accumulation and makes regular checks to ensure that employees use at least 60-70% of their available leave by the year-end.

Some people, according to Soni, feel incomplete without their technology even when they are on a holiday. This manifests itself in the form of increased blood pressure, blood sugar problems, etc. It is especially true for the 40-somethings.

According to Adobe’s ‘The Future of Work’ study, released earlier this year, 83% of the 500 Indian employees surveyed said they were happy with their work while 44% said they were overwhelmed with it.

In a survey by travel company Yatra last year, 55% of respondents said they check workrelated emails at least once a day while 17% said they are hooked to their phones while on holiday

It all boils down to employee experience, said Abdul Jaleel, vice-president of people resources at Adobe. The company has adopted a progressive sabbatical policy under which employees completing five-year milestones are given time off. The ‘off ’ time increases in direct proportion to the number of years an employee completes at the organisation. Professional services firm PwC India actively manages ‘workaholic’ employees by refraining from praising long working hours.

Its employee assistance programme ‘PwC Cares’ has expert counsellors available 24/7 throughout the year to provide employees practical assistance on depression, addiction and workplace concerns.

“Sometimes, employees feel their promotions are directly linked to the number of work hours they put in; this hampers productivity in the long run,” said Anish Philip, assistant vice-president, people function, Mindtree. The company uses regular surveys and town halls to get a pulse of employee sentiment.

Lemon Tree Hotels follows fortnightly work rosters and ensures employees get maximum personal time between shifts and after weekly offs, said Rajesh Kumar, vice-president of HR. The hotel also encourages employees to leave their laptops at the workplace and drives a culture of not making phone calls after business hours or on holidays.


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