A workplace can either be a trigger or a protective factor for mental health. An unhealthy environment for employees may cause burnout, frequent absences, underperformance, and difficulty in handling client relationships. But in an inclusive company culture that ensures employees are open to talk about their problems, mental well-being prospers.
In the Philippines, many Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies reach out to their call center employees to support them in coping with stress and maintaining a work-life balance. In an industry with about 30 to 40% attrition rate based on an IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) survey, creating a safe space to tackle mental health problems marks the first step to actively promoting healthy living among BPO agents.
Globe Business intends to help BPO enterprises in guiding customer service leaders to develop practical “SUPPORT” tips and strategies to reduce workplace stress and improve call center agents’ mental health:
S - See the “invisible.”
In a recent Department of Labor and Employment study about the mental health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in the IT-BPO sector, the top behavioral changes observed among call center employees are:
Extreme burnout or stress - 70.5%
Difficulty in sleeping - 56.4%
Low or reduced performance - 50%
Physical wellness is gauged by medical examinations and sick days incurred. However, monitoring mental well-being can be tricky since thoughts are internal and some behavioral changes are deeply contained.
To uncover the invisible, various mental health awareness training for managers can help team leaders to spot potential signs of burnout and anxiety among team members. Using the right language to address situations at work and giving employees the benefit of the doubt when dealing with their absence is also important in providing support and improving employees’ well-being.
U - Unlearn mental health taboos.
Hidden mental health issues may linger and worsen over time—especially when BPO workers feel “trapped” in their homes and workplaces. It is where the pressure to handle calls and reach target sales gets compounded by a lack of sleep.
Educate team leaders, managers, and supervisors on how to handle employees with sensitivity. Learning how to properly approach chronically stressed employees or those who are constantly feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period is imperative. It is essential to acknowledge that one’s emotional and mental state is valid in a work environment that encourages people to feel comfortable throughout their working day without judgment.
P - Productivity thrives in a great environment.
Invest in an office that positively impacts employees' mental well-being. Studies show that creating bright, open spaces at work can encourage employees to embrace their return to the office.
Setting up icebreakers and fun games promotes employee engagement and lessens the risk of stress at work. Simple office activities like engaging puzzles, fun quizzes, scavenger hunts, or costume day allow teams to build communication, rapport, and trust, which can benefit your business.
For hybrid setups, some call centers have been providing noise-canceling headsets to cut unwanted noises at home. But if lack of concentration still affects an employee’s performance, stimulate their focus by encouraging them to set boundaries and let their schedules be known to their managers.
Additionally, allow employees to maintain their usual “office rituals,” such as having small chats during a meeting and a coffee break. This creates a continuity of workplace culture for the days when they are working from home.
P - Physical state affects the mind too.
Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin chemicals that improve one’s mood to lessen stress, sharpen memory, and help the mind to relax and feel better. Fitness programs improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood.
Creating a fitness club for basketball, swimming, badminton, and camping, as well as conducting Zumba classes and yoga can alleviate symptoms of low self-esteem and social withdrawal. Research shows that regular exercise can have a positive impact on tackling depression and anxiety.
O - Offer support groups.
Forming a safe space to welcome healthy conversations and build support systems makes a difference. Developing a circle with empathy, understanding, and tools to support employees' mental health can help any business meet the demands of the “next” normal in the workplace.
In fostering a culture of mindfulness, BPO employees can become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. It is comforting for employees to know they are heard and understood in stress management counseling and group conversations about mental health concerns.
R - Reduce the mental health stigma.
Normalizing conversations about mental well-being within the workplace empower call center agents. By encouraging honest and open communication with leaders discussing mental health concerns, employees at all levels within the organization can feel safe to share their own experiences too. And if one discusses an office issue, be ready to handle it and look out for policies to be implemented to put an end to bullying, violence, or harassment at work.
T - Talk to a professional.
While ensuring a healthy work environment can boost your employee’s mental health, it is still important to provide them with the support of a trained and licensed professional to help them overcome severe mental health issues.
Psychologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists have a deep understanding of one’s mental state – and how it affects physical health. These specialists can evaluate your employees’ behavior, diagnose mental health problems, and offer solutions to manage the symptoms interfering with their daily lives.
An excellent starting point to adapt to the mental health care landscape today is through Globe Business with KonsultaMD’s 24/7 service access to licensed doctors for general and mental health. With a few taps, BPO employees can consult a doctor in the comfort of their homes at their own pace, without the hassle of booking appointments and long waiting times in physical queues.
KonsultaMD’s Mental Health Support consultations and counseling with licensed doctors and professionally trained specialists are made convenient over the phone, chat, or video calls. All consultations are private and confidential, which eases the discomfort of some who lack the confidence and time to take the first step.
A healthy workplace and proactive management go hand in hand. With new needs come new efforts that Globe Business and Human Resources Teams advocate for shaping a healthy office culture. Providing tools to address and support mental health concerns can help BPOs define the “better normal” for businesses in the future.
Let us help you establish a healthier workplace with KonsultaMD Telehealth Consultation for enterprises. Visit KonsultaMD or schedule a meeting with your Globe Business Account Manager today.