Most of us think of economics as a subject to study or as a study of national performance basis the policies and politics! We forget that how we conduct ourselves financially is the economics of our daily lives. Of course, this is affected by the larger gambit of policies of taxation, labour laws etc. But our own spending patterns at an individual level, and buying patterns at a group level are the founding basis of behavioural economics, which is today a muchresearched topic. Nevertheless, let’s explore how our own behavioural health affects our economics.
So, what is behavioural health and what is its relation to economics? Our behavioural health is reflected through our ability of reasoning, decision-making skills and how we deal with complex and stressful situations. This affects all areas of our life—personal as well as professional—given the behaviours we display and decisions we finally take. These decisions and behaviours impact the outcomes of relationships at home and at work. When we fare well in our behaviours, outcomes will be good. Generally, good work done derives good financial outcomes. Simply put this is the economics of behavioural health.
What impacts our behavioural health? Three factors: biological, emotional / psychological, and social. The first refers to our physical health. When one is not doing well physically, it affect our psychological health. When not well, we all feel low, we are unable to perform optimally. This only gets worse when one suffers from chronic illnesses. If we are emotionally volatile or weak, it can cause stress headaches, stomach aches etc. Our physical bodies and emotional bodies reflect how we carry ourselves in our social circles. These social circles define the environment we live in, how we interact with and within this environment defines our social health. The better we are able to deal with these, the better our situation.
Let’s look at this in reverse. When do we perform optimally at the workspace? When we are in robust health, when we are motivated to complete the work. This a pointer to the fact that physical and mental well-being is a critical factor in performance. In fact, in the longer run, even when afflicted physically, a mentally sound person will deliver good performance. Even in careers where the physical application is required, such as in sports, it is the mental strength which ultimately determines the victory at the finish line – the one who can endure wins. When do we keep healthy, especially in today’s context of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle? When we are disciplined enough to stay well—driven by the mind, the seat of emotions, scientifically speaking.
Success is a sum total of many failures where the hope and trust was kept alive, motivation was fed upon, hard work persisted, smart work was solicited. One might want to do a fact check around this for any successful business or a business person.
Here, I would like to put forth a contentious issue. The persona of the person defines the professional he or she becomes. Any organisation’s output is the sum total of all the people and their individual personas at work together. No individual can perform optimally if not in a personally sound situation. The receptionist may smile but the smile will lack the warmth. The manager might speak well by way of diction but the motive may not be hidden. The CEO may pass out commands, but cannot push for sensible implementation. These broken loops is where opportunities get lost, opportunities for business, for growth (career or business).
With the staggering statistics that various surveys reveal about the stress, anxiety and depression among people, it is high time organisations recognised the need for positive interventions. Rage, suicides, stress, anxiety are a reflection of the social behaviour however also a critical indicator of the mental health that these behaviours showcase. If we want the economy to really succeed with an all-inclusive growth, these indicators need to be taken serious care of.
Despite these numbers, few individuals or organisation are taking on the initiative to do something about this. These days employee assistance programmes(EAP) is the new fad. In theory, these are the right things to do, however, in the right spirit.. As I progressed in my career, during the economic surge in the country when the IT, telecom, healthcare, insurance and a whole lot of other service industries flourished, the training and development of teams was a very big deal. This development was not limited to tactical skills, but covered the overall personality development of each employee, given that the employees carried the brand of the company on their personas. Today, unfortunately, that tradition has been lost to the speed we have had to pick up. And during any slump, this was the budget to be trimmed first, limiting things to only basic required skills. However, all robust organisations went on to thrive because they invested in the development of the most important resource – the human resource. Given today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is imperative that we take a peek inward and start investing in development of people again in a planned manner with a serious commitment to output. The output of this can be clearly measured in terms of productivity metrics. These productivity metrics increase with the investment into not just people skills, but more so with investment into personality building, mindsets, and the most important, people’s health. There are innumerable studies that have proven these. We need to now adopt them in the right manner.
As individual professionals too, we all need to understand a very basic ideology that how we appear or face up to our challenges in the professional world, is no different from how we do that on the personal front. The mind functions in pretty much a similar fashion. We need to drop the fads and address our development as well as behavioural health seriously.
High time to invest in mind training because the mind drives all!