Sep 08, 2022 10 min read
Gratitude: The Game Changer Antidote to All The Dis-eases
Abstract: The ancient definition of health refers to a state of balance between mind soul and senses as opposed to a unilateral understanding of a body free from illness in the cotemporary times. This state of equanimity helps people to perform to their maxima in their respective ecosystems which includes workspaces. The concept has become even more relevant post the global pandemic of COVID-19. The organisations have undertaken noteworthy initiatives wrt to curative healthcare for its employees and it is now time to address the agenda of wholesome nourishment of its workforce. The powerful tool to achieve this is ‘GRATITUDE’ and organisations can foster this value to unleash their human potential by supplementing their existing models. The article is an attempt to conceptualise the various dimensions of holistic health and how it can be achieved better by adopting the virtue of Gratitude in our lives. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the concept, best practices from Engineers India Limited (EIL) are highlighted.
Susruta, an ancient Indian Physician and father of Surgery in Sushruti Samhita defines healthy person as “One who is established in Self, who has balanced dosas (primary life force), balanced agni (fire of digestion), properly formed dhatus (tissues), proper elimination of malas (waste products), well-functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul and senses are full of bliss.”
It is pertinent to note that health is not assessed merely in terms of physical vital parameters but a state of balance between the mind, soul and senses and it is a proven dictum that the biggest strength of any organisation is its employee’s good health. Healthy people holistically participate in the upward trajectory of the company.
During past few years, physical ailments are given an umpteen amount of significance by way of providing lucrative health insurance packages. A good example of this is the impeccable handling of COVID-19 period by PSUs that offered steady support to its employees in distress situation. But what further needs a thorough attention is the ‘mental health aspect’. Renowned Indian-American author and alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra states that ‘Stress is No 1 epidemic in our society & pandemic gave an opportunity to reinvent body and soul’.
We may like to believe that stress at workplace is due to various factors viz. long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and conflicts with co-workers or bosses and rightly so these social and environmental factors does impact people prima-facie but it’s not the real cause. The root cause is the lack of skills amongst people to cope with the situation. Skills like resilience, mitigation and emotional intelligence etc. Lack of resilience leads to insecurity & inability to take risks, lack of mitigation leads to conflicts with co-workers & bosses and lack of emotional intelligence limits the ability to receive constructive feedbacks. Louise Hay in her book “You can heal your life” remarks that most dis-ease(s) are psychosomatic and comes from a state of unforgiveness. When people are not free from bitterness, they continue to harbour unforgiving thoughts and in absence of release, they manifest in forms of diseases. Therefore it is imperative to be forgiving, to others and to self. The key to achieve this is LETTING GO and “approve ourselves exactly as we are”.
The question arises how to achieve this state of balance and equanimity for good health. The answer is simple i.e. GRATITUDE. It is the single virtue that encompasses all the aforesaid skills and has the potential to take people to their zenith. When we practice Gratitude, our health improves, we attract more abundance along with health, and our relationships with co-workers and family becomes more fulfilling.
‘Throughout history, religious leaders and philosophers have extolled the virtue of gratitude. Some have even described gratitude as “social glue” that fortifies relationships—between friends, family, colleagues and partners—and serves as the backbone of human society.’
Gratitude is not just about saying ‘Thank You’ which we all do all the time but it is about ‘noticing the goodness around us & being mindful about it’. In HR Terms, it may resonate with Theory X & Y by Douglas McGregor. As per Theory Y, employees have an inherent affinity for a particular skill and may perform best in that field with little motivation. It promotes inclusivity and diversity. On the contrary Theory X sees employees as incapable of performing without supervision and are disinterested in work which leads to organisational fall.
Gratitude works on the same principle. Looking the best in people and enriching that. With discerning mind, it is human nature to keep assessing things that are presented to us and our primary response to any conflict is self defense and disengagement rather than resolution. Gratitude is that acknowledgement which helps in establishing that nothing is personal. Lack of understanding between co-workers is not denial of personal qualities but only a difference of opinion over an objective matter.
Many perceive that practicing Gratitude works at an individual level and is a personal exercise but organisations can also adopt this practice to engage with employees to foster the spirit of oneness and sense of belongingness. Grateful leadership manifests into happy employees and greater productivity. An article in Forbes by Jonathan H. Westover on “The Benefits of Showing Gratitude In The Workplace” in 2020 referred to the study by American Psychological Association wherein researchers found that 93% of employees “who reported feeling valued said that they are motivated to do their best at work and 88 percent reported feeling engaged.”
The following case study of Engineers India Limited and initiatives taken by the Management to convey their gratitude to the employees also serve as a good template to engage with the workforce.
Gratitude at workplace- Best practices at Engineers India Limited
The practices at Engineers India Limited (EIL) can be compartmentalised under two broad categories (a) Policy level intervention (b) Interpersonal engagement.
Policy Level Interventions
At policy level, EIL (especially Management & HR group) is steadfastly committed to work tirelessly for its employee base. Being a consultancy organisation, manpower at EIL is the regarded as its principal strength. Apart from the rewarding health insurance packages covering plethora of ailments, EIL introduced reimbursement for counselling services for employees. The measure was taken during the pandemic to ensure the wellbeing and good mental health of the employees and shows the management’s resolve to take it as a serious matter.
Under the concept of Health Assessment & Lifestyle Enrichment (HALE), a number of awareness and educational health talks are conducted throughout the year on numerous health issues, mental health being one. To further add dimension to the holistic health, spiritual leaders from Brahmakumaris and Isha Foundation are also invited to share the values of wholesome living. The sessions are lauded by employee base who gain tremendous wisdom.
During the first wave of pandemic in 2020 when there was an acute shortage for sanitizers in the market, EIL took it upon itself to remedy the situation & ease the anxiety levels of its workforce. EIL's R&D Division, equipped with good laboratory facilities, took upon itself the task of preparing hand sanitizers in-house. WHO approved formulations of hand sanitizers were explored and the formulation finalized. The raw materials required for the same were then sourced overnight and a batch prepared for use within the company. The overall objective was to reduce the strain on the market demand for sanitizers wrought by the global pandemic.
A specific initiative from the second wave of pandemic was the setting up of 28 bedded air conditioned COVID L1 Isolation Care Centre facility at EIL Gurugram Complex. The initiative was aimed to provide immediate primary health services to employees in need until their admission of a hospital. The heavy load on health infrastructure during second wave of pandemic led to limited hospital admissions creating a paranoia amongst people but EIL’s prompt support alongside other measures boosted employee’s confidence and their sense of connectedness to each other. As a result the employees performed at their best even from their homes.
The above policy level practices flow directly to the employees in form of support and relief bundles. Policy level interventions require a committed Management who have immense Gratitude for their employees and only want best for them. All the above initiatives were introduced suo-motto without any instruction from any apex body and reflect on the nourishing work culture of the organisation.
At Interpersonal level, EIL management is continually engaging with its employee set by way of fortnightly addresses, posts and recognition by way of personal comments on social media platforms and thanking employees on any Company achievement.
Every fortnight, EIL C&MD delivers an in-house address to share the achievements made by the organisation and conveys her best wishes to employees for their birthdays. Management also engages with the employees on social media platforms by encouraging them for their participation in the initiatives organised by the Company. Employees now feel noticed, appreciated and belonged
An article in 2014 by Emily Thomas in The Huffing Post remarks ‘ostracism/ being ignored at workplace has severe impact on health than other forms of bullying like conflict with co-workers or negative appraisals’. Therefore, acknowledging people is the fundamental way to ensure the good mental health of an individual as well that of an organisation.
Recently, Management arranged the distribution of sweets to all employees upon completion one of its mega projects viz. 100% Plant Load for Ammonia & Urea plants at Ramagundam Fertilizer Plan and the distribution of fruits on the International Yoga Day 2022. The moment was celebrated by everyone in the company across all levels including the outsource staff. It was the leadership’s way of saying Thank you to not just its employees but also to their family members and the message was well received.
In line with above, EIL also introduced the online daily yoga program for everyone at 0600Hrs for employees and their family members. The initiative not only ensures the good health of the employees but also ensures the collective participation of people across all sites on one platform. It aids to bring people together whereby they feel connected and united.
A unique endeavour called “Synergia” - A team building program as outbound learning intervention is organised in the Company. The programme is conducted at Dehradun in the lap of nature and is designed for employees across levels to strengthen the cohesiveness among the team members. The out-bound interventions like Forest bathing, Trust building exercises etc. carried out away from the zone of comfort is designed to enable effective assimilation of learning resulting in reinforcing the values of teamwork. The programme fosters the spirit of Gratitude amongst the team members who in turn will give their best.
The result of above efforts can be seen/ measured by active participation of employees in initiatives undertaken by HR on regular basis who share their updates on social media by tagging EIL and on EIL connect (in-house software for employees).
The above initiatives also comes with a lot of manifold benefits. Some of the major ones are listed below:
Advantages of gratitude:
Gratitude strengthens connections with people
A famous TED talk with 22M views on youtube called “What makes a good life-Lessons from the longest study on Happiness” by Robert Waldinger beautifully reveals that “our social connections are the most important for our well being”. MOAI- a Japanese a word for a group of lifelong friends and a widely circulated term in the book called ‘Ikigai’ emphasises the need of same for healthy lifelong living. With our most active years spent in office, we make lot of friendships and ‘gratitude is an acknowledgement that something meaningful has been done for us’ by our friends and employer leading to happy and enduring relationships and in turn good mental health.
Reinforcement of generous behaviour
Gratitude has a multiplier effect and reinforces generosity. When there is an open display of gratitude in our lives, people are more likely to repeat the giving, and the open-hearted receiving. The effect of this is not only from person to person, but can ripple into the world.
It ensures good health due to good state of mind.
Increases feelings of security.
It squeezes out negative feelings.
It helps with depression.
Increases mutual cooperation amongst employees and workplace productivity.
Gratitude is not just a virtue or a quality but a survival skill that needs to be taught to employees. All the aforesaid best practices have an implicit value of Gratitude but HR must undertake training programmes in this domain to make it explicit so that employees can absorb it wholeheartedly. Countries like Bhutan come up with Happiness Index every year mark the significance of holistic living. Havard University has a specialised course on ‘Managing Happiness’ that encourages students to explore the science behind experiencing happiness.
An emerging field in HR is ‘journey mapping’ which is a way to measure the employees experience at every stage during their tenure with a panoptic view. And in order to make their journey pleasant it is important to build resilient workforce. Happiness is not about having the best facilities only but deriving the joy out of it and gratitude is the key to happiness. Thus, HR must organise dedicated programmes for employees to learn this skill set to be equanimous at all times.
The organisations stands tall on its human resource and not just on its infrastructure. The technology development is indeed changing the business scenario but nothing can replace the human warmth and we must cherish the contribution of our work pool. A healthy employee base is the strongest asset a Company can have and HR must constantly strive to bring the best side of their personalities.
To summarise, the quote from Shams Tabrizi, a character from a book called “40 rules of love” by Ellie Shafak does a full justice to the above article ‘the world is a huge cauldron and something big is cooking in it. We don’t know what yet. Everything we do, or we think is an ingredient in that mixture. We need to ask ourselves what we are adding to the cauldron. Are we adding resentments, animosities, anger and violence? Or are we adding love and harmony?’ ‘cos the world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated’.
Therefore organisations must choose how they want to nurture their employee base. The best ingredient to add to the cauldron is Gratitude and in turn receive only the best.
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