While most of the world regards mental health as an important part of a balanced life, mentioning it at some workplaces still makes a few palms sweat and draws a fair share of stigmatism within society. In some instances, employee happiness and fulfillment is not even a part of the work equation. This is in spite of the WHO stating that there are about 240 million individuals diagnosed with clinical depression worldwide and that annually, the global economy faces an estimated productivity loss of USD 1 trillion due to depression and anxiety. Mind you, this study was done before COVID-19 began. When comparing the prevalence of anxiety and depression before the virus with after, the OECD shows significant increases in several countries around the world.
Change is difficult. The turn of this decade saw many countries declare unprecedented national-level lockdowns and social distancing measures brought on by the pandemic. Large parts of the global workforce were thrown into the new normal of working from home. Distress and worry-filled news reports around the globe, and for some, daily life involved juggling work, family, and health while trying to balance on an uncertain socio-economic tightrope.
In Sri Lanka, the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019 became a tragedy that made the whole country suffer. In early 2020, after less than a year of emotional and economical rebuilding, COVID-19 pushed Sri Lanka yet again into a national lockdown and added ‘work from home’ into the local vocabulary.
Walking in the Right Direction
Although job security and survival replaced the need for happiness and fulfillment at most workplaces, some corporate leaders continued to place an importance on creating mental balance despite the challenging climate.
Infomate, as a leading Financial Accounting BPO & Business Process Management firm in Sri Lanka, employee well-being is taken seriously simply because it doesn’t make sense NOT to: happier employees have obviously lower stress levels and are able to maintain stability (and sanity) in knowing that the company has their back. As a result, they are empowered to work more effectively, thus improving their health and productivity – which translates to higher client satisfaction. It’s a win-win-win.
The WHO also states that with each dollar invested in improving mental well-being, there is a four-dollar ROI via the increased health and productivity that results from it. This logical argument itself can justify the need for greater awareness and improvement of employee well-being across the board.
Credit Where Credit is Due
While navigating through these troubling times, we as a company did not fail to recognise the employee efforts that made and continue to make Infomate a trailblazer in the field. A felicitation event titled ‘BCP Heroes’ was organised in October 2020 where our employees, based throughout the island, were honoured and appreciated for working from home during the lockdown. Many had gone the extra mile to ensure all client deliverables met deadlines amidst the far-from-ideal working conditions.
“After the first Covid wave, we were valued by Infomate Management as BCP Heroes, and it was really encouraging and motivating for all of us because we knew how much effort we had put in to make this home-based working a success. One day, my colleagues called me and said all of them had received the same phone call from a delivery service – it turned out to be Infomate who had sent us all hampers and we were really surprised.”
- Pabasara Ahangama, Team Lead
Balancing the Work-Life Seesaw
From the start of the pandemic and during the numerous lockdowns that ensued, we were able to organise events and competitions, albeit online, to boost team-spirit, to be an escape from the humdrum of the WFH lifestyle, and to provide a more engaging alternative to the siren call of Netflix.
• May 2020 had a digital Vesak lantern competition, where employees submitted photographs of their homemade lanterns, which were later posted on social media.
• Some individuals, although confined to their homes, found novel ways to stay active: be it developing and sharing a home-based exercise regimen or mastering arts and crafts. These, too, found their way onto our social media page and received encouraging feedback from peers and friends alike.
• In October, Infomate had the Halloween Bakes Competition where many showcased creativity with their ovens as well as with themed costumes.
• 2020 at Infomate ended with a lively Christmas-from-home filled with wishes of positivity to all and the hopes for a brighter year to come.
• A photography competition in February uncovered and celebrated team members who had a great eye for the art.
• As travel restrictions eased in April 2021, the team eagerly put together the traditional Avurudu (New Year) celebration at the office. The day held more meaning for the Infomate family as the previous New Year took place during the lockdown. Along with the customary games, there was also the familiar pageant held online with participants clad in traditional attire.
• A Call of Duty mobile championship was arranged in May 2021 with fast-paced action and a slightly different kind of teamwork than what’s usually required at the office.
“I realise that my employment at Infomate is more than just about the work – it is also about the opportunities to engage in a variety of meaningful activities. A year of working from home can affect mental health, but Infomate has ensured we always maintain work-life balance.”
- Shania Fernando, Process Associate
Giving a Little Back
Just after the start of the first lockdown, a program was initiated by our parent company, the John Keells Group, to distribute essential household goods to 10,000 impoverished families in the spirit of doing what is needed, when it is needed.
The Infomate team has been keen at heart to take part in the many diverse CSR projects undertaken by the John Keells Group and often voice out their eagerness to resume such activities when pandemic restrictions ease. They feel that by helping the community they also help themselves build a stronger sense of purpose and satisfaction through the way they choose to invest their own time and energy.
What the Future Holds
While we get used to this new normal, we may wonder how much of the pre-pandemic world’s familiarity would return once the virus is dealt with completely. Until that day dawns, the responsibility will collectively be on all of our shoulders to ensure the well-being of the family we live with as well as the family we work with.