A prominent HR leader of the Asia region Roshan D’Costa is interviewed by Dr. Debashish Sengupta, Asia Editor of the magazine. This interview highlights how Bureau Veritas is creating a culture of health and sound mental health of employees remains its everyday priority.

Debashish: Depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Why is Mental Health important at workplace, in your opinion? How does the mental work environment affect employees?

Roshan: Individuals spend more than half of their daily quota of 24 hours either to commute to and fro from work or to be at work. Even if they are opting for work from home, there is still this aspect of productivity and meeting the work objectives. We fully understand that working from home does not imply free time for the individual. It may also add additional stress in case the environment at home is not conducive. Hence there has to be a good mental and psychological balance for individuals to have a work life balance. Not having a good metal work environment may result in limited participation in decision-making, low levels of support for employees, lack of individual motivation and drive, loss of operational control, trust deficit between Managers and Subordinates etc. which eventually impacts the company’s bottom line.

Debashish: There are many risk factors for mental health that may be present in the working environment. Most risks relate to interactions between type of work, the organizational and managerial environment, the skills and competencies of employees, and the support available for employees to carry out their work. What steps have you taken to ensure a healthy workplace in your organization?

Roshan: In my opinion, communication is key for a good mental work environment. Good communication leads to good working relationships which is one of the key variables for mental health. For instance, with good communications a Manager is able to understand the aspirations and training needs of subordinates, Managers and sub-ordinates can discuss and agree on coping strategies, they can openly discuss work related issues, get into work related debates/arguments and close the day with a hand shake in case of disagreements.

The mission and ambition of my organization is “SHAPING A WORLD OF TRUST”.  To build that trust (internal and external) we ensure that every individual who works for us is treated with dignity and respect irrespective of the position within the organizational hierarchy, nationality, gender, ethnic group, religion etc. We promote inclusion and diversity at work place which supports and promotes a good healthy mental working environment.

Debashish: How do you address mental health issues at workplace? What kind of support do you provide to the employees to deal with mental health issues?

Roshan: The challenge is always to identify whether or not an individual is suffering with a mental health issue at workplace. Consequently, does the concerned individual understand that there is an issue and he / she needs help to address. Wherever applicable, our HR officers are the first point of contact and support for employees to discuss freely on related issues. HR will further evaluate the situation and intervene with the Managers / department for resolutions. We may also recommend for external counselling to affected employees/individuals.

Debashish: Workplace stress is a major cause of mental health disorders among employees. Bullying and psychological harassment also trigger mental health issues. How do you ensure employees are better equipped to manage their stress?

Roshan: We take mental health very seriously. Our local HR teams are always available to discuss and support individuals who may need support and intervention at work place. We run periodic campaigns to talk about stress at work and how it can be managed.

Debashish: Interventions and good practices protect and promote mental health in the workplace. What interventions and good practices does your organization has taken to promote mental health at workplace? Does your organization policy take care of mental health issues?

Roshan: Safety is one of our organizations cardinal rules/absolutes and there is zero tolerance for negligence. Therefore as an organization we promote safe working culture which includes promoting mental health and open & inclusive working environment. Our organizational values drives these interventions. Apart from our campaigns, we have also introduced internal trainings on e- learning modules on stress and mental health which guide employee and managers in identifying and dealing with mental health issues at workplace. We ensure that employees avail their annual leave with in the calendar year for rest and rejuvenation. As a policy, we are fully compliant with local country labor regulations and works councils.

Debashish: WHO’s Global Plan of Action on Worker’s Health (2008-2017) and Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2030) outline relevant principles, objectives and implementation strategies to promote good mental health in the workplace. Does your organization abide by these principles?

Roshan: WHO’s global action plan compliments our organizational action plans that are already implemented within the organization. For instance, equal employment opportunity; representation of trade unions; robust health, safety & environmental policies; Leadership and career development; rewards and recognition, employee engagement initiatives etc. Stakeholders and staff at all levels are involved when providing protection, promotion & support interventions and when monitoring their effectiveness.

Debashish: As a prominent HR leader of a large MNC what is your recommendations for better management of mental health of employees at workplace in the future?

Roshan: On several occasions I have observed HR professionals and Managers of people misrepresenting or relating mental health at work place with psychological disorders. So it is a kind of taboo not to talk about it .This perception has to change. It is important to differential and accept that mental health is related to work stress and working environment. I would like to mention that it may also depend on the level of maturity of corporate practices & governance, medical and health regulations within each country. In my opinion, at micro level, mental health needs include support to individuals, self-care, compassion, humor, rest, empathy, treatment and hope. Expert mental health practitioners may add more to this. If organizations can understand and accept these needs, it will surely assist to build a better work place in the future.

About Roshan D’Costa

Roshan D'Costa

Roshan D’Costa is a Human Capital Professional who has shared the table with Top Management to understand his organizational business requirements to deliver Human Capital results while delivering value to their shareholders, management and employees as well as customers.

With a career spanning for two decades within India, Africa, Caspian & Middle East Countries, he has successfully transformed organizations with his Human Capital interventions in a vide range of industries viz a viz Information Technology, Consultancy, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing and Inspection services with strategic focus on Organization Design & Development and Employee Engagement.

In his current role as regional Director, HR for Bureau Veritas, CIF Middle East region, he is responsible to conceptualize and implement HR strategies for 17 countries covering 4000 + employees with 54 nationalities.

Apart from his Masters’ in Business Administration in Human Resources and Finance,  Roshan is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (FCIPD- U.K) and Certified in Strategic Human Resources Management from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad(SHRM, IIM-A)

He is also actively engaged with HR societies within Middle East to share best HR practices and is recognized as a mentor and coach for emerging HR talents. He has won several awards and recognitions for his contributions.