Mental health: Cos give staff time off to heal, handle Covid stress

Mumbai: Given the rising anxiety levels among employees, several organisations are revealing their compassionate side by offering staff a much-needed break from work. Godrej Properties has closed offices for the week, starting Wednesday. Goldman Sachs has declared this Friday as a ‘self-care day’, encouraging employees to take the day off. RepIndia on Wednesday announced a 4-day mental health break for its staff. The Delhi- and Mumbai-based agency has decided to shut shop from May 6 to May 9 “to afford employees the requisite time for healing, being with their loved ones and get vaccinated”.
The offices of philanthropic firm Dasra, on the other hand, have been closed for two weeks since April 26, for a “14-day work quarantine”. Employees have been asked to pause their immediate work deliverables and rather focus on caring for self, family and communities.

Over the last few weeks, several other companies have announced mental health breaks and vaccination & Covid leaves to help employees navigate a rough patch. In an internal note to all India employees, Goldman Sachs shared, “Many of us have been affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic. We acknowledge it has put a lot of strain on our people physically and mentally, and encourage you to prioritise your health and wellbeing, and that of your families, above all else. To support you, this Friday, May 7 will be a ‘self-care day’ for colleagues in India.”
“We also recognise that many of you are supporting family, friends or your communities during this time. To help you manage these priorities, we are also providing a ‘Care for Others Day’ off for our people in India, to be used before the end of June,” the firm said in the note.
Godrej Properties MD & CEO Mohit Malhotra said, “The work-from-home burnout is real and the last 13 months of Covid and the second wave have taken a toll on people, emotionally and mentally. As a company it is our responsibility to be with our employees and we understand that in tough times like these, everyone deserves a break. We introduced ‘Taking a Pause to Heal’ initiative where these three days starting May 5 plus the weekend will be a complete break from everything work-related.” This is applicable to close to 2,000 permanent employees and approximately 600 contract employees working across all locations of Godrej Properties in India. “We have also proactively given a heads-up to our customers so that the sales and customer centricity teams can take a break too,” said Malhotra.
Dasra’s associate director of talent management and internal operations, Ninad Ankleshwaria, said, “Our staff members have been volunteering to raise funds and as an emergency response team to fulfil urgent needs of Covid-affected people. We realised that many of our employees were distressed due to Covid affecting themselves, their loved ones or the community at large. Thus, we acknowledge that in such dark times, it’s essential to go beyond the words of being a people-first organisation and ensure that awe prioritise caring actions towards each and everyone’s well-being.”
In a statement, RepIndia CEO Archit Chenoy said, “There is no denying that this is an incredibly difficult time for the entire nation — and our workforce is no exception to that reality. We’ve all been knocked off our feet, witnessing the devastation all around us. This is a small initiative we’ve taken to give our people breathing room — whether that’s used to grieve, to recuperate or to get vaccinated. The hard truth is that we’re in a full-blown national crisis and if giving people a few days off is going to ease a tiny bit of that pressure, it’s frankly the least we can do. I hope employers across the nation are supportive towards their teams who have worked relentlessly during the pandemic and at this time do not shy away from showing compassion and basic human decency.”