As a Coach, consultant and a human being, I feel passionately about the role business and corporates play in the well being of people families and society at large. What I have been noticing last couple of years is alarming and I feel it needs a deliberate looking into.

The question I am left with is, is the Corporate world pulling off a Hulk? Tearing at the seams in the name of growth?

Corporate suicides have started to grow. Workplace related Stress and stress related diseases and deaths are beginning to show their ugly heads.

Tata finance ex-MD Dilip Pendse committed suicide in his office in Mumbai in 2017. He was 61 yrs. old.

47-year-old Vineet Whig, COO of Britannica, committed suicide on Sunday and a note was found from his pocket stating that he was fed up with his life,

Former Zurich Insurance boss Martin Senn committed suicide six months after leaving the company under a cloud. His death follows the suicide of Zurich’s finance chief Pierre Wauthier in August 2013, which brought into sharp focus the pressures facing senior corporate executives in Switzerland and elsewhere.

These are just some cases which came into light because of their high profile.

The suicide notes say, Fed up with life, Can’t deal with stress, no one is responsible??.But is that true?? As a culture as a society are we not responsible for the conditions that lead to such dire actions by seemingly ‘normal’ men and women’.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “ Work is at the very core of contemporary life for most people, providing financial security, personal identity, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to community life.”

As a professional Coach I get to talk to and listen from many leaders. Work is often seen as a refuge from dealing with some other stress in life which may be of personal nature. Work then becomes the panacea. But what do you do when this place also starts to cause stress and upsets and pressure?? Where do you go then and what do you do?

The workplace of an individual has a significant impact on his or her mental well-being. Peter Warr, in his book “Work, Unemployment and mental health” states five categories of psychological experience that promote mental well-being, and the absence of which cause mental stress.

1. Time structure– an absence of time structure can be a significant psychological burden

2. Social contact – lack of human connection can lead to depression

3. Collective effort and purpose – People need a larger context to live outside of their family

4. Social identity – A need for a sense of self and identity

5. Regular activity – To have a routine in order to organize life with some semblance of control.

A high 46% of the workforce in organisations in India suffers from some or the other form of stress, according to the latest data from Optum, a top provider of employee assistance programmes to corporates. Optum’s study had a sample size of 200,000 employees (over 30 large employers) who took an online Health Risk Assessment during the first quarter of 2016.

As per the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) report, nearly 38 million Indians suffer from some form of anxiety disorder that requires professional intervention. and The current situation:

India currently has only one psychiatrist for every 200,000 to 300,000 people. Thus, even if an employee is looking for treatment on the outside, chances are that he or she will struggle to find someone who can help.

And this is not just about the individual and their families and the negative impact on morale that this leaves on the team and the rest of the organization. Corporate leaders who are unable to identify and deal with metal stress suffer from low EQ which in turn stumps business growth. Corporate over-achievers are often reluctant to seek help in managing their professional burdens until too late.

Stress is something that’s very insidious — you can deal with it for quite a long time before you then begin to find yourself burning out from it, – Stress is often caused by a lack of control and a lack of support. If you feel like you can’t control certain outcomes and don’t have anybody to discuss your worries and feelings with… that’s potentially a toxic mix.”

The question is have we become apathetic to the suffering of colleagues or have we become inundated by the sheer sense of helplessness? And if this continues what is the likely future of the business world? A world where younger minds are going to take on more responsibilities. Are they prepared?? Are we prepared to look back at this time in history and not lower our eyes with regret? Or are we going to wake up and face the hulk in the room.

These lines form Bob Dylan are more apt than ever..

How many roads must a man walk down

Before they can call him a man?

How many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they’re forever banned?

How many years can some people exist

Before they’re allowed to be free?

How many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn’t see?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

The question I am asking of us is:

  • Have we got the metric wrong?
  • Have we got progress and development confused?
  • How close does something needs to get till it becomes personal?

I hope we can collectively engage in finding or designing a solution for this, not so impending crisis and not leave it to the blowing winds.

Rhea Dsouza