Addressing the importance of mental well-being at work

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A company’s employees are its core to ensure a thriving business. As such, the mental well-being of every employee is important to note as it affects their productivity. Sharing further, Homage Malaysia’s Country Manager, Pooi Chan Gan talks more on how an unhealthy work environment can hurt a company.

Family is the core and support system for every individual

The mental health and well-being of an employee are pivotal for a company as they can ensure productivity amidst a thriving environment. As they are the core of a company, the employees are the drive that brings forward the establishment they work for.

Homage Malaysia’s Country Manager, Pooi Chan Gan said, “If my team members are unhappy and unhealthy, then I cannot expect them to pick up the phone call to serve Malaysians.”

Elaborating on the situation, she believed that as an employer, caring for the employee was important.

“If I don’t care for them, they are not filled with love and compassion, then how can I expect them to give the same positive feelings to the people they are caring for?” 

Furthermore, employees who are not well taken care of are bound to make mistakes. She added that while there were mistakes that could be overlooked, “there are those that are serious enough to hurt the business.”

Understanding the root of the problem

An unhealthy work environment can be among the many roots of the problem. With decades of experience working in various fields, Pooi said that she had experienced working in a bad environment.

“It is toxic when the management promotes favouritism or when it promotes employees stepping on each other to succeed.” She pointed out that every individual hoped to be valued and to feel like they belong.

“A healthy working environment is a place where employees feel that they are part of the growth and success.”

Pooi also emphasised the importance of family to an employee. “Companies which promote after-hour entertainment for clients instead of allowing their employees to go home to their families are another example of an unhealthy work environment.”

Leadership is important. According to Pooi, when an employee sees their employer cutting off work at 7 pm daily, then they are compelled to follow suit — this can achieve a work-life balance.

To her, family is the core and support system for every individual. To maintain a healthy workspace, having a time off from work to be able to balance the day with the family is important.

“But at the end of the day, it boils down to every individual’s choice. An employee is someone with options, with choices to say no to an unhealthy environment.”

Handling the burden of Homage’s Care Professionals

Aside from handling her team members at Homage’s office, Pooi also ensures the mental and well-being of the Care Professionals working under Homage are taken care of.

She disclosed that most of the time, these care professionals carried the burdens of the patients under their care. Sharing an example, Pooi said that she had one care professional who experienced death due to suicide.

“The patient was diagnosed with depression. An hour after the care professional left, the home, the patient committed suicide. I would have to make sure she understood that there was nothing she could have done.” Pooi also added that Homage, understanding the burden these care professionals carry, had a team to call them and make sure they were fine.

“Being a care professional, they often meet with patients who have similar situations.

“When they are dealing with all the unhappiness, the negativity will affect them. Each time the patients talk to them, they become their listening ear, they give a piece of them to the patients.”

Working from home this pandemic

The stress gathered throughout the pandemic had taught Pooi one thing: the importance of annual leaves.

“It does not matter whether it is only staying at home. It is just cutting everything else, and having an outlet to express oneself.” Like Pooi, the ongoing pandemic has been an eye-opener to many.

With new forms of stress and pressure that arose throughout the day, Pooi explained that these had hindered many from having a productive day. 

“It has been 18 months since we started working from home. Many overlook that the office becomes an avenue away from home. It becomes a personal space for employees.

“But with working from home, everyone’s home. There will be relationship stress among family members as they tend to nitpick on certain things and it just piles up on an individual.” Pooi added internet connectivity was another cause of stress.

“We are always having online meetings, and the connection can get unstable. This eventually has a toll on our focus. After an hour of trying to pay attention, we get exhausted.” 

There is another type of stress from working at home that Pooi shared from experience.

“My mother is walking in the background during a video conference. The telephone rings. Or even, there’s delivery and I need to go up and down to pick it up. And because we are occupied by all these, our reports need to be pushed to after office hours.” Although away from her team members, Pooi never fails to ensure they are well taken care of.

Aside from encouraging them to regularly exercise or have an outlet to express themselves, Pooi and her team would have a monthly lunch to check on each other.

Simple gestures like sending food to her team members, she believed, could make them feel appreciated and valued.

Everything starts from leadership

Pooi feels that everything starts from leadership. “If I expect my team to continue working just because I am still online, then it doesn’t help promote that work-life balance.

“But if they see me turning off at 7pm every day to exercise, they will have the perspective that I am happier this way, enjoying work because there is a cut off time. Then they’ll be able to relate.” As a sportsperson, Pooi enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, running and swimming.

An advocate of healthy activities as an outlet to express herself, she explained that this was her way of coping with work.

“There are 24 hours in a day. If eight hours are spent sleeping, nine at work, then what do you want to do during the remaining seven hours?”

“At the end of the day, there is only so much you can earn, so much you can give, but what makes you go on? What is the purpose of your life?

“All the other things you are doing are temporary. The question I always ask is, what do you want to do for yourself that makes you happy?” she said.

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