Managing employee stress is top priority for 89% Indian employers

Lack of physical activity and stress are the two factors that put the health of Indian professionals at risk.


According to a research by Willis Towers Watson, identifying and managing stress and behavioural health issues across the workforce is the top priority for 89 per cent employers.

While examining the health risk factors, lack of physical exercise emerged as the key problem with 62 per cent of the respondents voting for it. Around 55 per cent of those surveyed believed that stress was a major factor behind poor health of employees. The other two factors that came to light were poor financial wellbeing (27 per cent) and tobacco use (25 per cent).

Sixty-six per cent employers have already put in place or are developing a stress or mental health strategy for their employees, while another 17 per cent have it planned for 2021. The primary steps already taken by organisations to manage employee stress and mental health include offer of flexible working options (68 per cent), followed by onsite stress-management interventions (46 per cent). Forty per cent are actively promoting employee assistance programmes, whereas 38 per cent are offering stress management and resilience training. Thirty eight per cent are focussing on employee education and training.

Steps organisations have taken to manage employee stress and mental health:

Steps taken Offered in 2018 Planning for 2019 Considering for 2020 or 2021
Flexible working options 68% 8% 9%
Onsite stress management interventions 46% 18% 18%
Promotion of EAP 40% 18% 15%
Stress management and resilience training 38% 29% 18%
Employee education and training 38% 27% 19%
Manager training and coaching to line managers and senior executives 33% 27% 21%
Stress or mental health strategy/action plan 29% 37% 17%
Calibration of jobs to enhance employee control, autonomy in making decisions 26% 21% 19%
Guidelines for email/voicemail blackout times 21% 21% 14%
Risk assessments/stress audits 9% 29% 27%
Programmes to support chronic behavioural health conditions 8% 29% 30%


Sudesh Shetty, head-health & benefits, Willis Towers Watson Insurance Brokers, says, “Almost 60 per cent companies do not use any data/matrix to measure the stress of the workforce and the leading causes, and that surely is an area of improvement”.

While 25 per cent of the respondents pointed to tobacco use as one of the top five lifestyle concerns, only eight per cent actually offer programmes to correct the situation. Forty-four per cent of the companies surveyed admit to having taken at least one action on tobacco use in 2018.

 Steps organisations have taken to curb tobacco use:

Specific action taken  Offered in 2018 Planning for 2019 Considering for 2020 or 2021
Banning the use of tobacco on the entire campus including outside buildings 35% 16% 7%
Expanding and communicating tobacco use policies to include vapes and e-cigarettes 16% 21% 7%
Using self-attestation protocols for tobacco use 10% 21% 11%
Offering full coverage for tobacco-cessation programmes 8% 14% 14%
Using validated testing approach 7% 17% 13%


This ‘India Health and Wellbeing Study’ was done during June–August 2018, and covered more than 100 organisations and senior HR leaders.

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