Feature by Sumona Chetia
Wake up in the morning. Grab a cup of black coffee. Rush to the office. Grab another cup of black coffee. Stare into the computer screen for hours while ferociously typing back and forth. Drink the third cup of coffee (maybe this time, an Americano), and after working for continuous 8-9 hours, when you come back home you are not alone! Your work has followed you home.
So goes the life of an IT professional!
Information Technology (IT) is an era which changed the world in all respect. Let’s look at India in particular. IT sector in India primarily houses the most number of employability opportunities. Good pay, prime status and the lucky chances to work abroad are a few of the many perks of an IT generated job. But apart from all these glitter and gold has any of us ever wondered about the mental state of IT professionals. The answer as expected is a no because this is a very alien topic to many of us. So this World Mental Health Day I chose to look into the mental wellbeing of hardworking IT professionals.
To survive in any working environment, we are required to excel through every cut-throat competition. And that means draining our body and mind. In an IT industry, a professional’s life depends on meeting deadlines. To create breakthrough presentations, to produce innovative computer applications and to brainstorm excellent ideas in meetings are the core activities performed by an individual working for an IT company. All of these activities need an active brain. The more he/she uses the brain, the better the result. In addition to these, with the advancement of technology, the IT workers directly face the constant change in methodologies. To achieve better positions and promotions within a shorter duration, they are always on the lookout for learning the new working language, equipment or even change the entire work paradigm to meet increasing demands. And this is when extreme stress seeps into their lives which in later stages take the form of DEPRESSION. YES, I SAID IT!
Let’s take a look at the factors (my findings) of depression among IT professionals. For your easier comprehension, I am putting forward the list of causes in bullets.
- A woman professional (married) is always on her toes trying to handle domestic and work life simultaneously. Late night works, missing out family events, depending on others to take care of her kids, etc. are a few reasons which dump a lot of stress on a working woman.
- A layoff is the biggest threat in the field of IT sector. Job insecurities have driven many people to rush to a dead end.
- To be better than others is acting as an additive agent of constant stress and anxiety among IT individuals. Performance prerequisite is what matters!
- To meet impending deadlines, some people bring their work to home which ultimately cost him/her sleep or time with family.
- The work environment is growing more and more competitive with every passing day and to meet this increasing demand for competition, an employee is expected to handle multiple projects and achieve various targets.
- If an employee’s junior has an additional MBA degree and is also willing to work overtime (standard criteria for a raise and promotion), then the only bachelor degree holder professional will think twice about leaving office at the usual time.
- Long working hours with no means of recreation makes a mind dull.
- Choosing a higher salary over work-life balance. Or choosing a high raise over a job you don’t like.
- Multinational companies work globally as in the operational team will be based in India, but the clients may be from different geography and time zone, and thus, most of the IT professionals have to work during odd hours.
An overworked and overstressed employee is doing no good for his company, family and most importantly his health. All the above-mentioned factors are definite to take a toll on his/her physical and mental state. Anxiety, bipolar syndrome, clinical depressions are all the outcomes of never-ending stress in the IT sector. According to statistics, depression ranks among the top three workplace problems.
SYMPTOMS OF A DEPRESSED IT PROFESSIONAL
– Persistent sad and anxious mood.
– Less communication with colleagues.
-Unhappy with his/her job.
-Always irritated or at times showing no emotions at all.
-Taking frequent leaves without stating any genuine reason.
-Loss of interest in work.
-Procrastination at a workplace.
-Lost in thoughts.
HOW CAN COMPANIES PLAY A ROLE TO COMBAT DEPRESSION IN WORKPLACE?
First and foremost, IT companies need to recognize the problem area. The employers should have a fair knowledge about depression, its symptoms, and cure. Often, employees don’t address this issue because they fear to lose their job and confidentiality. So the company should be updated about each and every employee physical and mental status. Companies should put an effort into developing the quality of work life and encourage healthy work-life balance.
Stress management activities like yoga, Zumba or gym packages should be made availed at least twice a month. Introduce the concept of healthy yet delicious eating by offering an array of good food times in work cafeterias. The flexibility of time can be of immense worth for an employee. The option of occasional “work from home” should be implemented in almost all working platforms. The work environment can be mellowed down to a constructive and supportive one instead of overly aggressive and competitive. Team picnics, cultural competitions, and sports events can also be included in a company’s wellness package programme.
A good relationship between an employer and employee will result in better working conditions which will ultimately reflect in better work output and team management. This, in turn, will keep the employee in a good and healthy mental state both in work and personal life. Depression among IT professionals is not a myth but the good news is that it can be taken care of if handled with serious guidance and proper knowledge.