Just then, the mobile on the side table beeped. “So what’s your target for tomorrow?”—read the message from his boss. A sense of unrest immediately set on him.
He forgot what he was discussing with his wife.
Wide awake, all that he could think of was the number of collections he would execute the next morning and how much he would amass for his firm’s kitty.
“This growth has resulted in riches; but has brought about psychosomatic disorders and early mental and physiological burnout of individuals, sometimes even before they have touched 40,” says Dr Aruna Broota, well-known clinical psychologist at the Dept. of Psychology, Delhi University.
Most companies, especially those in the fast growing sectors, acknowledge that employees are, indeed, stretched. “Considering that the need to grow to a global scale has struck us late; many of us are working overtime to make up for the lost years,” reasons Manoj Kohli, President & CEO, Bharti Airtel, India’s largest and fastest growing telecom giant.
Many of the present generation of executives who want to see India shine are working really hard despite burnout threats, Kohli adds.
So, how big is the burnout risk for India Inc’s young, restless and stressed workforce? Enormous, if corporate psychologists are to be believed. It’s a vicious circle that the employees are stuck in. “The jobs are paying well but, drain individuals physically or emotionally,” says Dr Broota.If this situation continues for years, months, or in some cases for weeks, a person may finally reach the breaking point and fall victim to the burnout syndrome.
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That’s why the pressure is high and more work hours are required,” says Shyamal Gupta, Head (Institutional Business), Kotak Commodities.
It’s Catching’em Young
Workplace burnout is increasingly affecting the young workforce. Dr Suman Bhandari, Senior Cardiologist at the Escorts Heart Institute in Delhi, says about 25 to 30 per cent of heart ailments are among executives younger than 40.
“This has clearly to do with excessive stress and inability to cope with the present work culture,” he asserts.
Diseases like spondylosis, abdominal disorders, pain in heels (these are the symptoms of burnout as well. See Burnout alarms on top) are common disorders in the 25-40 age group.
Some companies have already woken up to the enormity of the crisis.
Software major Infosys Technologies has a 24-hour hotline connecting its employees to psychiatrists. But, stress and burnout are not limited to just the IT sector.Long hours of work and immense pressure to produce results are ubiquitous across industries. Add erratic lifestyles and irregular eating habits; and there is a generation of physiological burnouts facing India Inc.
Lifestyle intervention and stress management should be made mandatory for companies in India, says Dr Broota who conducts “three workshops every two days” on burnout-related issues for these companies.
The culprit sectors, according to her, are: IT, telecom, retail, and asset management.
Is There a Choice?That’s a tough question to answer for both the companies and their executives. For executives, there is personal ambition as well as professional compulsions to meet targets. “If you don’t perform, there are plenty of others wanting to replace you,” says Gupta of Kotak Commodities.
He agrees that some balance between work and relaxation is required but says, India cannot afford to have an easy work culture yet. “The developed nations are way ahead of us. Maybe the next generations can emulate them when things here are better,” he says.
Some, however, insist that burnout can hurt the high growth ambitions that are the very cause of this phenomenon. “Whether it’s the pressure of dealing with tight budgets or preparing for the next board meeting, executive stress does have a negative impact on your performance, decisions and even the company’s finance,” asserts Koustav Dhar, President, MDLR Airlines.
Dr Broota’s remedy: A change in the corporate mindset and work culture. Till that happens, India Inc’s tryst with burnout will continue.
Who’s hiring:Various sectors across industries
Who’re they hiring:Graduate and post-graduate engineers or equivalent with experience in the use of energy in operations, maintenance and planning. Diploma-holders with 5-6 years of experience are also being hired for these roles
At what salaries:Rs 3.6 lakh-Rs 4 lakh at the junior level; Rs 6 lakh and above for the mid-level.
What are the numbers like:The National Productivity Council (NPC) has projected a demand for approximately 16,000 skilled and trained energy managers in the country over the next five years