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92% of Indian employees prefer discussing mental health issues with robots than managers

Anup Jayaram     October 11, 2020

2020 has been by far the most stressful year ever for most people. Within India, 84 per cent people have reportedly experienced more stress and/or anxiety at work than any year before according to Oracle's 2020 AI@Work Study. The findings are based on a study conducted across 12,347 people that included employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives in 11 countries -- the US, the UK, China, Japan, India, Brazil, Germany, France, Italy South Korea and UAE -- to explore leadership and employee attitudes towards mental health, AI, digital assistants and robots in the workplace.

One of the biggest challenges in these trying times is mental health. Staying home while trying to juggle work, childcare, schooling, and unpredictable finances has taken its toll on working families. Mental health has become one of the biggest challenges for employees and employers to manage with the continuously evolving work dynamic. Mental health issues are now spilling into people's personal lives. Around 85 per cent of the surveyed people say mental health issue at work negatively affect their home life.

In India, 92 per cent of the surveyed are more comfortable talking about their mental issues with a robot than a manager. That's much higher than the global 68 per cent of people who would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about mental health at work. Also, 82 per cent believe robots can support their mental health better than humans. Shaakun Khanna, Head of HCM Applications, Asia Pacific at Oracle said, "In India people are more comfortable with technology. Also, there is a stigma attached, so people feel more comfortable talking to a robot." People prefer communicating with robots because robots are perceived as unbiased, provide quick answers to health questions and are judgement free.

Khanna points out that despite the lockdown productivity has improved significantly in larger organisations with 30,000+ employees. In India, of the over 1,000 people surveyed, 65 per cent are spending on an average 10 hours at work daily. That works out to putting in 40 additional hours every month. Yet, 61 per cent of the people surveyed in India claimed to have had greater family time; while 38 per cent had more time for entertainment.

Also, 90 per cent of Indians say their company is using good use of AI to ensure health and safety of employees. This is higher than Japan.

"The pandemic has witnessed HR dealing with a crisis which has no precedence. HR is coordinating communication, facilitating remote working, helping keep workers stay productive, and assisting with mental wellbeing needs," said Khanna.

The new pressures presented by the pandemic have been layered on top of everyday workplace stressors, including pressure on global workforce to meet performance standards (42 per cent), handling routine and tedious tasks (41 per cent) and juggling unmanageable workloads (41 per cent).

The most common repercussions were sleep deprivation (40 per cent), poor physical health (35 per cent), reduced happiness at home (33 per cent), suffering family relationships (30 per cent), and isolation from friends (28 per cent).

Also read: Mental well-being crucial amid coronavirus, so why is insurance not easy?

Also read: India battles mental health crisis as COVID pandemic rages

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