The employees’ expectations and what they’re looking for in a job, outside of money, has just totally shifted. They are looking for more empowerment, more growth, and more of a reset in their own well-being.

Asa part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote the Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Richa Gupta.

Richa is central to Globalization Partners’ growth strategy as it continues building a strong global team to scale to meet the needs of the trillion dollar-plus remote work industry. Gupta will lead all facets of Globalization Partners’ global workforce, while playing a key strategic role in scaling the company and culture to meet the surging demands of remote work across the globe. Gupta brings over 20 years of robust technology human resources experience, with a focus on managing HR for global, complex organizations that are undergoing transformations and defining industries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Icame to the U.S. with $4,000 and a suitcase. When I was an MBA student at Wright State University looking for an internship, a senior executive by the name of Dan McCabe from a well-known company called NCR was visiting as a guest speaker. A part of me wanted to run away as soon as he finished his session, as I had no confidence to approach him for a potential internship with the company. But the little fighter in me gathered all my courage and walked towards the front of the hall (a walk I still vividly remember), introduced myself, expressed my gratitude for the session and my desire for an internship. The next thing I knew, I had an internship that led to my first career job.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Many years ago, I was on vacation with my husband and young boys at a local bed and breakfast. As is the case with two growing boys, they were hungry for seconds. As I made my way to the kitchen, an elderly couple stopped me to say their table hadn’t been cleaned and asked me if I could assist. I realized they thought I was part of the staff. So, I lent a hand. The example has served as a great reminder for me that we that the old adage to “not judge a book by its cover” is relevant to all of us. We all carry unconscious biases and it’s our responsibility to overcome them so we can promote inclusivity. My belief is this can be done through irrefutable acts of kindness and humility that help connect us to the humanity in one another.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Practice self-care by learning compassionate self-awareness, I find that when I treat myself empathically it translates into every aspect of my professional and personal life. An inability to disconnect from work is one of the most certain routes to burnout. Setting limits allows us to mentally recharge, decompress and come back with a fresh and compassionate perspective. I love to see a colleagues’ Slack message that reads “out walking for a mental break” because I know that in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves. After a certain hour, turn off work notifications on both your laptop and phone. But, also be mindful of others, I work with colleagues all over the world and in every time zone who will answer an email no matter what time I send it. For this reason, I think the delay send function on email is ideal, I write the email during my work hours and have it delivered to my colleague during theirs.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Employers need to establish an environment in which every team member feels connected, even though most will be working from home. This can be challenging to do in the age of global remote work, and different time zones and cultures can often make team-building difficult. The key is to build relationships with each individual employee and encourage them to actively participate. Employees who are treated with trust and respect will be more engaged with the organization and as a result, stay longer.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is from Deepak Chopra who states that, “The best use of imagination is creativity. The worse use of imagination is anxiety.” I think we’re hardwired to worry as a survival mechanism, but that mindset can be paralyzing. Instead of imagining the worst, this quote reminds us to look at every situation as an opportunity and apply our creative brain to uncover new ways of working and being.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

The last several years have validated the importance of creating mental wellness programs. These offerings are essential to creating a supportive environment where employees can thrive. Here at Globalization Partners, we have implemented a number of programs, beginning with Circles of Care. These are virtual places where employees can gather, offer to support to one another and learn about resources after troubling world events occur. Being able to reset mentally is essential to maintaining a healthy work life balance. We offer the Calm app free to all our employees and encourage them to take a mental break throughout the day. The app has been incredibly popular with our employees and since June 1, we’ve seen a nearly 80% usage rate. Having a robust Employee Assistance Program should underpin all of these. Our program is now available in 42 countries and offers 24/7 confidential, emotional support. As well, employees can access legal guidance, financial resources and online support.

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

In the U.S., we have been holistic in our thinking about our employees’ 2022 benefits. We are planning a full global benchmark of our benefits and leave policies, continuing into next year, to ensure that there are not uniform, but equitable, benefits across the globe.

The employees’ expectations and what they’re looking for in a job, outside of money, has just totally shifted. They are looking for more empowerment, more growth, and more of a reset in their own well-being.

From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious or having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?

The first and most important step is making certain everyone is aware of the existence of mental struggles. Everyone in the community should understands that “it’s OK not to be Ok.” From an organizational perspective, having an effective and compassionate EAP in place is crucial to employee wellbeing. Making sure that managers are trained emphatically to spot and respond to employee health struggles is one of the best measures of organizational health. At G-P we have what we call our “Circle of Care,” meetings where our employees can compassionately interact with each other; or in cases of wider societal tragedies can mourn and offer comfort to those feeling burdened. During these sessions we offer resources and advice that promote individual mental wellbeing.

This might seem intuitive to you, but it will be helpful to spell it out. Can you help articulate a few ways how workplaces will benefit when they pay attention to an employee’s mental health?

A workplace that pays attention to an employees’ mental health will benefit in every way. Employee burnout is one of the leading causes of not only loss of productivity but also of resignation. Having any employee who is suffering from depression or anxiety effects not only that employee, but everyone around them. An organization that promotes mental wellbeing by creating a feeling of community and safety will see a large increase in employee satisfaction and retention. At G-P we give all our employees access to the Calm app and the feedback has been tremendous. We are seeing near 80% usage from those who downloaded the app. Small organization steps like this can lead to big changes in employee mental health.

Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?

I do take five-minute respites often to re-center and believe breathing techniques really do work. My values at home and at work are aligned, so I am fortunate to show up as my true self in both environments. I also think it’s about perspective, the older I get the more comfortable I am with myself and what I stand for in all aspects of my life

I work in the communications industry, so I’m particularly interested in this question. As you know, there are a variety of communication tools such as video conferencing, phone, text, and push-to-talk. What changes or improvements would you suggest for these technologies to help foster better mental health?

We are becoming a society that is continuously and constantly connected to our places of work. Our interactions with the technology need to change much more than the technology itself. Employees need to be encouraged to draw a line between work and home life. The pressure of the need to be constantly connected can be very detrimental. I always encourage colleagues to step away from their computers and go outside for a walk and do a mental reset. Setting boundaries is important, turn off your Slack notifications after a certain hour, close your laptop in the evening and don’t open it until the next morning. Video conferencing platforms are a tremendous communications tool, but the mental fatigue that comes from several back-to-back meetings can be harmful. Mindful scheduling of meetings is becoming more and more important. We need to empower employees to set healthy boundaries.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am deeply passionate about empowering young women in underserved countries and societies. We know that helping women live to their fullest potential directly correlates to the economic and social health of communities. I would love to be part of the cohort that helps to deliver that change.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

LinkedIn Here

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!