A year ago, a friend of mine died of cardiac arrest at the age of 45, abruptly leaving his dependent wife and young school going children in shock, agony and with a big question mark about their future. He had led a stressful corporate life for 20 years and had lost his job a few months before his death. This story isn’t unique as we all have heard similar stories of people disappearing in their 30s and 40s holding onto their chest. Work-related stress and unhealthy lifestyle are the commonly known causes for these early departures.
Work-related stress is a known occupational hazard, reduces work performance, increases depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders and eventually leads to cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The World Health Organization says, CVD is the major cause of mortality globally, as well as in India. According to the Indian Heart Association, 50% of all heart attacks in Indians occur under 50 years of age and 25% of all heart attacks in Indians occur under 40 years of age.
People get work-related stress when they are presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and skills, which challenges their ability to cope. Workload, long hours, job insecurity and workplace conflicts are also contributing to work-related stress. Many corporate employees whom I know, are not happy at work, but are hanging on to their jobs half-heartedly, breathing through work stress because the job pays their bills and loans. I have also observed that many millennial employees are unable to cope up with the old ways of working, work pressures, that the baby boomers and Gen-X were used to. Work-related stress affects all generations of people from young employees to mid-career professionals to senior leaders, making millions of professionals live an unhappy life and putting their well-being at risk. This is why employee engagement and well-being are topics of concern these days for CXOs particularly for CHROs. It’s important for employers to recognize work-related stress as a major employee health and well-being issue.
Aristotle said over 2300 years ago “Above all, a person wants to be Happy”. So, what makes us happy?
We value and seek money, power, beauty, health, because we believe it will make us happy. But, US psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research results indicate that there are 5 things that make all of us happy.,
- Intense focus on an activity
- Of our choice, that is
- Neither under-challenging(boreout) nor over-challenging(burnout), that has
- Clear objective and receives
- Immediate feedback
He called this state of being happy as “flow”. People are creative, productive and happy when they are in the state of flow.
Michaelangelo was able to paint 16th chapel, his masterpiece, because he had complete freedom to design the work and was promised a lot of money in return. He was working not just for the money but for the inherent fulfillment it brought.
So, how can the employers get people to be in the flow state at work?
How can enterprises engage their employees better, that not only helps employees to be creative, productive and happy but also makes the employers profitable?
This thought led to our foundational idea for Liberwin, to bring happiness at work, for people to live a meaningful life. Our approach for this is to empower people to choose work that’s aligned to their interests and skills, allowing them to wholeheartedly engage at work with focus and commitment. We think that the shift from ‘Talent searching for work’ to ‘Work searching for talent’, is the profound next step in engaging talent of the future.
Thomas Kochan, Professor of Work and employment research at MIT, author of ‘Shaping the future of work’ says “We are not just pawns controlled by globalization or technological changes, or any other force totally outside of our control. If we take the right actions and work together, we can shape the future of work in ways that work for all.”
We founded Liberwin to shape the future of work, by democratizing work, together with ecosystem partners, leading the transformation of our work environments for the future, enabling enterprises to digitize work and engaging professionals with work choices aligning to their interests.
We strive to create a future work environment where the workforce of the future will have less work-related stress, more freedom to choose the work of their interests and enjoy a healthy, happy and meaningful life.
Nicely written Ganesan. This is a well thought out problem to address. Wishing you all success.
Well articulated the state of corporate employees