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BIZ BUZZ: Another workplace epidemic

/ 04:02 AM October 11, 2021

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported a worrying 57-percent increase in the country’s suicide rate in 2020 compared to the preceding year. To find out how much suicidal ideation is affecting employees specifically, mental health and well-being firm MindNation analyzed the results of 5,868 employees from their Pulse Survey database from September 2020 to June 2021 and found that 8 percent were having suicidal thoughts.

Probing further, they found that the biggest reasons for suicidal thoughts were COVID-19 fears, personal matters, financial pressure, pressure at work and loneliness.

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This is important because employees who exhibit mental health concerns and suicidal ideation negatively affect company morale, productivity and the bottom line.Fifty-one percent of suicidal employees said they were unproductive up to 2.6 hours a day during their work shift. Meanwhile, 42 percent of suicidal employees said they thought of quitting work due to their mental health problems.

Finally, 43 percent of employees with suicidal thoughts said it took them longer to perform tasks, 40 percent said they committed more mistakes and 67 percent expressed difficulty concentrating. According to a separate report released by MindNation in early 2021, productivity loss due to mental health challenges can cost companies as much as P700,000 per 100 employees annually. This means employers need to take proactive steps to prevent suicide in the workplace because the stigma surrounding mental health and suicidal ideation can worsen the psychological well-being of affected employees and make them reluctant to seek help.

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In the survey, only 12 percent of employees with mental health issues truthfully admitted to their managers that they were taking sick leaves for this reason. Others stated it was for a physical health problem, took it as part of their annual leave, or did not want to give reasons at all. One way to address suicidal ideation and overall mental well-being concerns in the organization is to make professional help available and accessible to those who need it. More than one-third of employees with suicidal thoughts believed going to a professional would be best for them.

To better support struggling employees, organizations must provide needs-based mental health benefits through an employee assistance program. This can be done by partnering with a mental health and well-being company that offers customized solutions for each employee and focuses on holistic health. Thankfully, there’s help. MindNation, which operates in Asia and the Middle East, makes its mental health program available and accessible to Filipinos online. So now companies know who to approach for help regarding this most delicate of challenges.

—Daxim L. Lucas

Ripe for the picking?

After hitting a record high of P45.40 in the middle of last week, shares of Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) newbie Converge ICT Solutions have tumbled sharply. In the last two trading days alone, Converge lost P10.40 per share or nearly 24 percent of its market value, closing Friday at P33.60 per share.

The culprit? The 365-day lock-up period on shares of global private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, which owns 15.8 percent of the fiber internet company, expired on Friday. As such, the market is bracing for the possibility that Warburg may sell all or part of its stake.

Since investing $250 million in Converge in 2019, Warburg has made a lot of money from the fast-growing enterprise built by Dennis Anthony Uy of Pampanga.

With its current market capitalization of P282.24 billion, Warburg’s stake in Converge is now worth around P44.55 billion or $880 million.

As this bloc may be too big for the local market to absorb, stock pundits expect that if and when Warburg is ready to cash in, it will look for international buyers who may be willing to pay the premium. As such, some investors theorize that the creation of Converge American depository receipts (ADRs) by Citibank may be in preparation for Warburg’s future profit-taking.

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Although not sanctioned by Converge itself, the ADRs boost the visibility of Converge to other global groups that may be interested to buy all or part of Warburg’s shares.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ

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