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It pays to keep staff happy

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Relax while at work
Relax while at work

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, March 11

Even as technology sector workforce rises past the 1.1 million mark, human resource managers are faced with new challenges of addressing employees' concerns of stress and anxiety leading to depression and impacting individuals and work.

They are devising innovative methods to address these concerns on a long-term institutionalised approach through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP).

The subject assumes importance not just from an individual employee perspective but from the industry standpoint, with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) hosting an event on "Relevance of Psychological Support in the knowledge - based industry."

The Chief Operating Officer of PPC Worldwide, Dr Anna Oldman, said grievances within organisations, particularly employee-to-employee relationships, could lead to stress and depression. If there is a mechanism to address this, counselling can help. This can be gauged from the fact that studies on McDonnel Douglas, General Motors and United Airlines, have shown that there is significant return on investment when companies institutionalise EAP that helps better manage internal resources.

"However, while most of the costs of an enterprise are tangible and can be quantified, the impact of stress is neglected since it is not tangible. Researchers are trying to quantify it and the impact an unhappy employee could make in an organisation," the Director of Office Tiger, Mr Seth Appel, said.

"The very nature of the industry is changing. An employee who works in Chennai today can move to Bangalore, and later to New York on a new assignment within an organisation. Such movement itself can be a severe cause for stress. That part, managing cross-culture issues, is something which HR managers need to understand," Mr Appel said.

The Director of Clinical Practice, PPC Worldwide, Dr S. Kalyanasundaram, said that a World Health Organisation study had shown that depression had the potential to emerge as the second largest concern in an enterprise. This is further accentuated by the fact that barely a fraction of those afflicted by it get proper counselling. In fact, data points to depression being a greater cause for concern than even a heart ailment.

Dr Anna said while 60 per cent of US employees and 80 per cent of Fortune 1000 companies have some sort of EAP, 85 per cent of employee termination is due to psychological issues and 20 per cent of problems are due to being bullied at work.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 12, 2006)
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