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Leadership & Management

To curb burn out, help managers focus on their health and wellness first

Cauvery Bhalla and Dhruv Lohumi

Cauvery Bhalla and Dhruv Lohumi

July 12, 2023 6 min read

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India is home to more than a sixth of the world’s population, our country has received world acclaim for being the fastest growing economy. As the economy expands, India’s requirement for a strong, healthy, and productive workforce that can withstand the pressures of a sedentary lifestyle is  increasing. However at this pivotal moment of socio-economic development, India is lagging when it comes the health and wellness of the manager and employees, we’re seeing a rapid shift towards burnouts and chronic non-communicable diseases. Here are some statistics that may surprise you. 

  1. In India, chronic or non-communicable diseases account for  53% of all deaths and 44 % of disability-adjusted life-years lost. 
  2. India has the highest number of people with Diabetes in the world with around 77 million living with diabetes and a projection of 134 million by 2045 (International Diabetes Federation). 
  3. India’s loss in terms of losing potentially productive years due to deaths from cardiovascular diseases in people aged between 35-64 years is one of the highest in the world. By 2030, the loss is expected to rise to 17.9 million years which is 940% more than the loss estimated in the USA.
  4. India is recording a steep increase in hypertension both in rural and urban populations.
  5. 4 out of 10 in India reported elevated rates of burnout and depression. 
Manager health and wellness

Driven by the urgency of the situation, greater employee awareness, and digitally accessible means to healthcare and wellness, corporate wellness has taken centre stage. This is reflected in the projected growth of the corporate wellness market. A recent report projects that the Indian Corporate wellness market will grow at an annual rate of 5.75% for the period 2020-25 from its current value of INR 14.95 BN to INR 21.53 BN. Corporate wellness market includes services around smoking cessation, health screening, health risk assessment, nutrition & weight management, stress management, psychological care, and others. Yet the path to success for a lot of  organisations is a rocky one. 

Manager health and wellness must be viewed as an inherent element of the entire corporate philosophy, and one of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to properly implementing philosophy is leadership. In a recent study in the UK, respondents said that managers have as much of an impact on their mental health as their spouse and way more than their doctor or therapist. The instinctive reaction of most organisations to this piece of data is – let’s make managers responsible for the team’s wellness, some even go a step further and make it a part of Managers KRA. And while these are helpful tools, it only works if the manager is himself or herself operating from a place of wellness. 

“Please put on your own mask before assisting others”. Every airline safety video will gently remind you of this. However, this simple reminder is just as applicable in the workplace as well. Here are 5 reasons why helping the manager prioritise their health and wellness can be a rewarding experience for your organisation –

  1. Leaders navigating the challenges of the modern workplace can become easily overwhelmed with all the various roles and responsibilities that their position entails. A manager who struggles to manage their own work life balance, fitness and workload will be in no position to help others do the same.
  2. Managers have a huge influence on the day to day experiences of your employees and a manager’s conduct usually sets the standard for others to follow. They can demonstrate through their own example what employees can do to navigate personal wellness roadblocks such as lack of time, family obligations, lack of interest in what is offered, and erratic work schedules.
  3. Managers who prioritise their own well being and practice wellness on a regular basis and begin to see its benefits. They are more likely to be wellness ambassadors who can encourage employees to take their wellness seriously. By sharing their own knowledge and helping their team members identify strategies suited to their individual needs, managers can help employees make sense of all the information they’re surrounded by regarding wellness to see what works best for them. 
  4. They can also be great evangelists for workplace wellness programs and prove helpful in improving the “stickiness” of the wellness efforts your organisation is making. 
  5. Managers can also support healthy ways of working through personal policy measures like no work after 7 or no work calls on the weekend for themselves and their team. This can help the much requested work life balance needs of employees.

Building a culture that focuses on health and  wellness is a practice in building positive habits and relationships. Making managers central to this ensures their well-being as well as everyone in the organisation. 

A good place to start is to ask managers “What gives you validation as a person other than work?”.  Managers can benefit from a self-assessment system designed to help them build healthy habits at work and find purpose not just as professionals but as people.. These micro habits, when practiced on a daily basis, empower managers to regulate their emotions, insecurities and frustrations during team interactions. 

A simple checklist, like the one below can significantly improve the ROI of your current wellness programs and improve the mental health of a manager in your organisation. Encourage your managers to periodically assess themselves on this checklist. 

Healthy workplace habits.

  • I take short hourly breaks
  • I stretch throughout the day
  • I practise 10 mins of silence every 2 hours
  • I practise giving up social media for a day every fortnight
  • My personal goals include a self-care plan
  • I take short floor walks with team members 
  • I start the day with gratitude
  • I have dialogue on wellbeing with my team members once a month
  • I make sure to make the best use of workplace wellness facilities of my organisation

In summary, while there is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfilment and positive functioning. These are the exact 3 components of being your BEST SELF. By encouraging healthy workplace habits you can enable everyone in your organisation to be their Best Self every single day.


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