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Chara Yadav On 5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees

An Interview With David Liu

Equality — Everyone who walks through our doors, or signs up to work for us is treated equally. There is no “one rule for them and another for us” in our business, and that has helped to create a positive work culture in which everyone feels valued.

As a part of my series about the “5 Ways That Businesses Can Help Promote The Mental Wellness Of Their Employees” I had the pleasure of interviewing Chara Yadav.

Chara Yadav has been a media professional since graduating with an honors degree in Journalism. She is currently the press officer for AskAnyDifference, the popular site that explores and explains the differences and similarities between the mundane and the extraordinary.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Absolutely. I always wanted to be journalist, but it’s an incredibly male centric profession in India, and no matter how many doors I tried to break through after leaving university, my career seemed to stall at every available opportunity. Whenever a chance of advancement or a promotion mad itself available, there was always someone more “qualified” than I was, which usually meant that they were male and had a relative working at the newspaper. When my cousin Piyush offered me the chance to become the Press Director for his company, I thought “Why not? Why not use the same connections that others so blatantly do to advance your own career?”, and three years later, here I am.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There have been lots, but I think the most interesting one was the first time that I actually interviewed someone who was “famous”, and was promoting a Bollywood film. The actor in question was as belligerent as I was nervous, and made it quite clear that he objected to being interviewed by a “woman”, which in turn made me realize that the old adage about never meeting your heroes was true, as they will inevitably disappoint you. It also helped me to understand the gender divide within my profession and how the expected roles haven’t really changed in the last half century. It’s not so much interesting, as was a moment of self-realization. It was my journalistic epiphany.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Know yourself and your limitations. We’re all encouraged to push ourselves as hard as we can, but in doing so we often neglect the warning signs that come with burnout. When you’re tired, take a break and if you can’t see your way around an issue or can’t figure out how to solve a problem, ask for help.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

In the simplest terms, listen. Listen to what your colleagues and employees have to say, as every opinion can help to iron out work based issues and create a healthier business culture for everyone.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My father always used to tell me to “Do as I say, not as I do” which is a lesson that has stuck with me for my entire life. It’s the opposite of what I believe, as I think that we should all follow our hearts, do what we know is right and lead by example rather than dictate.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. In recent years many companies have begun offering mental health programs for their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, we would love to hear about five steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Listen — It was a simple idea that the CEO of our business, Piyush instituted. Every week we have a regular meeting (via Zoom) in which our employees are encouraged to talk about matters to them and any issues that they might have without fear or repercussion. These meetings have helped us to create a fairer working environment for all of our staff.
  2. Respect — We had a problem with our male freelancers talking down to our female freelancers, and so Sandeep our HR and Operations manager demanded that the men talk to the women with the same level of respect that they would their female relatives. Without respect, people don’t feel valued, and we’ve managed to ensure that our all of staff feel like they are valued by management and each other.
  3. Equality — Everyone who walks through our doors, or signs up to work for us is treated equally. There is no “one rule for them and another for us” in our business, and that has helped to create a positive work culture in which everyone feels valued.
  4. Talk — All of our staff are encouraged to talk about any issues that they might have without having to worry about any repercussions, as we don’t believe in punishing people for wanting to be treated as people and not numbers. It took time for the idea to take off, and only began to work when I spoke about the difficulties that I’d faced and Sandeep and Piyush also talked to the staff about some of their own career issues.
  5. Trust — It’s important to us that our staff feel like they can trust us, and without that trust none of the other initiatives work. That’s why we open every meeting be talking frankly about some of the difficulties that we’ve had that week, because what we learned very early on is that respect is two way street, and trust has to be earned. So we earn it by being honest and open.

These ideas are wonderful, but sadly they are not yet commonplace. What strategies would you suggest to raise awareness about the importance of supporting the mental wellness of employees?

Honestly? Follow our lead. Listen to your staff and be open with them. Use our policies and see your colleagues as people rather than just colleagues. Behind every worker there’s a very human story. Never forget that your workers are people first, and employees second.

From your experience or research, what are different steps that each of us as individuals, as a community and as a society, can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling stressed, depressed, anxious and having other mental health issues ? Can you explain?

Become someone that those around you know that they can trust so that they will open up, and talk to you without fear or regret. And the only way to earn that trust is by being open, honest and sincere yourself.

Habits can play a huge role in mental wellness. What are the best strategies you would suggest to develop good healthy habits for optimal mental wellness that can replace any poor habits?

The only strategy that I use is by learning from my mistakes and trying to use what I’ve learned to be a better person and someone that those around me can, and will value as a colleague and mentor.

Do you use any meditation, breathing or mind-calming practices that promote your mental wellbeing? We’d love to hear about all of them. How have they impacted your own life?

I’m afraid I don’t, no. I do try to take an hour every evening to just relax in silence with a cup of tea and think about the events of the day and how I could have handled some of them more positively if they’re swirling around inside my head. It helps to stop issues becoming a long term burden by dealing with them immediately rather than allowing them to linger and become a problem.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Not really, I tend to look to people and everyday issues for inspiration rather than literature.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Wow, that’s a good question. I think that I’d like to start a business equality group in which the members have meet on a weekly basis and discuss the problems that they think are related to their gender in order to trouble shoot answers and solutions that could be used to create an ongoing and ever evolving guide to equality in the workplace that anyone and everyone could access at the click of a mouse. Real life problems solved by everyday people for the benefit of everyone.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

The best way to do it is to see what we do at AskAnyDifference (www.AskAnyDifference.com) for themselves. You might be surprised by who we are.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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