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Impact of Globalization on work practices: Culturally sensitive EAP services. Dr.S.Kalyanasundaram, MD Consultant Psychiatrist Clinical Director, PPC India. Indian work force . The booming Indian IT and ITES have become symbolic of globalization in India

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Impact of Globalization on work practices: Culturally sensitive EAP services

Dr.S.Kalyanasundaram, MD

Consultant Psychiatrist

Clinical Director, PPC India


Indian work force

  • The booming Indian IT and ITES have become
  • symbolic of globalization in India
  • Younger work force – flexible, open, quick, risk
  • tolerant, hardy and adaptable
  • More number of women joining the work force
  • Highly trained – “techies”
  • Goal oriented, focused, high achievement
  • motivation

India – “Fastest growing free market

democracy” - Davos 2006


Work Environment (1)

  • The Indian software services and BPOs have introduced novel management systems and work culture
  • “New work places” are characterized by flat and non-bureaucratic organizational structures
  • Informal relationships, team work and flexible management policies.
  • Seen across both Indian and Multinational Companies

Fast paced globalization – highly trained technical

Professionals with less developed life skills


Work Environment (2)

  • Dynamic environments - fast paced and rapidly changing, westernization of work place
  • Career prospects – more opportunities for vertical and lateral movements
  • Nature of work – time – critical projects, high degree of precision
  • Fluctuating work patterns and timings

Work force in transition from traditional practices to

Western work styles – psychological pressure


Issues at work place (1)

  • Psychological distress is neither visible nor
  • tangible
  • Difficult to recognize early signs of distress
  • Highly competitive environment
  • Concerns of being “benched”
  • At times non-supportive environment

Added pressure and resultant stress

not recognized early enough


Issues at workplace (2)

  • Long and unrealistic working hours with
  • deadlines
  • Less time or energy for any other type of
  • recreation
  • Low energy levels and inadequate skills to
  • handle pressure long term
  • Inability to see value-addition for themselves
  • when working for large projects – therefore
  • lack of motivation

Issues at workplace(3)

  • Low priority on the part of the organization
  • to develop the person holistically
  • Training programs are focused on skill and
  • competency development
  • Focus on emotional or psychological issues
  • a relatively low priority

Inadequate skills, lack of support and

expectation to perform make them stressed


HR concerns

  • HR moving from personnel management and industrial relations to human capital development
  • A strong felt need by HR for EAP services but find it difficult to convince top management on return on investment
  • Many levels of decision making
  • Software and BPO companies struggle with high attrition rates

Paradigm shift - from support function to a strategic

partner in growth and development


Impact on HR

  • Employability and career growth depend on
  • improving one’s skill set to keep up with rapid
  • changes and technology
  • To achieve it they often change jobs resulting in
  • the fluidity of the software labor market
  • Return on the investment cannot be assessed in
  • monetary terms

HR Key Issues – recruitment, training,

skills building, attrition


HR Issues (1)

  • Companies recognize the need for counseling
  • and support services
  • But are constrained by the lack of availability of
  • structured and comprehensive programs
  • In-house counseling services have not proven to
  • be as effective due to confidentiality/reprisal
  • issues

HR understands the importance but the system is not

conducive to achieving it


HR Issues (2)

  • People find it difficult to approach ‘others’ for
  • psychological help – cultural issue
  • Lack of orientation to seeking support for
  • psychological issues – stigma
  • Lack of availability of professional
  • psychological services

A major concern is to get the right kind of

Professional help within the system


Impact on Employees

  • In a recent survey 90% of the employees interviewed admitted that
  • during times of worry their work was negatively impacted by an
  • average of 20%
  • This means they are 20% less productive and, in some cases,
  • considerably more
  • In a country like India, issues may even get compounded considering
  • the pressures they undergo to financially support members of their
  • family

Conflict between individual need and

a sense of responsibility


A sample case

  • 29 year old unmarried male – team leader
  • Presenting with multiple somatic symptoms
  • Stressed, anxious and unable to function
  • Team consists of freshers
  • Pressure from the Manager
  • Project accepted and deadline set

A sample case …contd.

  • Fear of being replaced
  • Good salary, poor skill set
  • Initially presented with chest pain
  • Consulted Cardiologist
  • Declared “Normal”
  • Stress and anxiety worsens

A typical situation where an employee

doesn’t know where to go for help


Issues at Individual level (1)

  • Lack of knowledge and orientation
  • Poor perception that only the severely affected need to seek help
  • Poor help seeking behavior as a cultural concept
  • Away from home, at times cultural shock, as food habits, language
  • customs and traditions are different

People come from different religious,

ethnic and language backgrounds


Issues at Individual level (2)

  • Adjustment issues forming new social support groups
  • Intolerance and rigidity leads to non-acceptance
  • Results in alienation and lack of social and family support
  • Transition from academic to work life
  • Peer pressure to conform

Psychological health depends on the ability to

integrate into the new environment


Family structure

  • Traditional joint family structure
  • Giving way to Nuclear families
  • Less time with one another with different job timings
  • Overcome by exhaustion and trying to cope with both job and home
  • pressures
  • Couples working and find it difficult to start a family of their own

Conflict between aspirations and desires –

theirs and that of family elders


Some statistics

  • Population over 1,000 Million
  • Psychiatrists 3,500
  • Psychologists 600
  • Psy. Soc. Workers 400
  • Psychiatric Nurses 600
  • Obviously inadequate numbers to cater to the growing needs
  • Solution? Increase numbers of affiliates

Availability of Professional services

  • Training – facilities
  • Paucity of counselors
  • Bulk of the professionals are highly trained and experienced
  • Counselors in practice – not professionally trained or experienced

Select and train them in

Solution Focused Brief Therapy


Challenges EAP needs to address

  • A psychological mind set about usefulness of
  • EAP services has to be brought in
  • The benefits will have to be demonstrated as case examples
  • Organization need to be able to see return on investment
  • for such services
  • Providing quality service is better in the long run
  • compared to short term gains

From the crisis intervention mode

to a preventive and proactive mode