Study after study establishes that Indians are inching close to burnout with as many as 80 per cent of Indian professionals calling themselves stressed. If the country’s stress and burnout epidemic was the ignored elephant in the room, it has now slowly begun to trumpet. And to amplify the sound, leaders of large organisations such as American Express are designing policies to control, if not stub out, the wildfire.

Manoj Adlakha, CEO, American Express India, is at the forefront of the change. He believes that the best way to back their customers is to back their colleagues. “We are committed to ensuring not just financial, but also physical and emotional well-being of our colleagues,” he says. “Our goal is to build a ‘Culture of Health’ through our leadership, policies, and work environment.”

More and more companies today realise that chronic stress and burnout lead to impaired performances and building a culture of health creates happier employees who are more productive. A workplace stress study in 2016, for instance, found that the total organisational productivity loss per year because of absenteeism due to stress adds up to Rs 105.48 crore for the finance/banking sector. Adlakha agrees, “Better health for our colleagues and their families is good for them and it’s good for us. It’s a win-win.”

Building a culture of health

One of the ways American Express implements its healthy living initiative, Adlakha says, is by following the four pillars of “physical health, mental well-being and resilience, financial wellness and caring for the family.” There’s easy access to physicians and opportunities to participate in physical activities such as yoga and zumba, but it’s employees mental well-being that’s most important to American Express. “We have psychiatrists and psychologists who talk to people on strict anonymity and help them,” Adlakha says, before summarising American Express’ impactful, overarching philosophy as, “move more, eat well, and stress less”.

The concept of 9 to 5 is gone… [but] for you to be an engaged employee, you need to make sure your family is well-protected.

Manoj Adlakha, CEO, American Express India

The ubiquity of technology means that we live intertwined lives today, with no work-life balance or integration. Self-time or time with family is most affected when we’re a victim to the smartphone ping. “The concept of 9 to 5 is gone,” Adlakha agrees, but spending time or caring for the family should not. It is, in fact, American Express’ philosophy of caring for the family which goes a long way in building a nourishing and positive company culture. “For you to be an engaged employee, you need to make sure your family is well-protected,” Adlakha says. “We cannot take the tension back from work into our homes because that’s not fair on the family.”

It’s this continued focus on thriving and a culture where leaders care about employees well-being, not just measurable outcomes that, to Adlakha, is the future of American Express and the future of workplaces around the world.

Want to share your story of how you thrive? Write to us at [email protected]

More on Thrive Global India:

Five Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me As I Was Embarking on a New Career

Five Rules from Amitabh Kant’s Success Handbook

What Stopped Pooja Dhingra From Working 16-Hour Days

Morning Rituals That Power Padmaja Ruparel’s Days

Resist the Urge to Do Something Every Minute

How Sleep And Exercise Changed Rishad Premji’s Life

Devdutt Pattanaik on Why Indian Mythology Is Relevant in Western Workplaces Too


  • Founded in 2016 by Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global is the world’s largest well-being media platform. Since its launch in October 2018, Thrive Global India has received over 40 million visitors. Our media platform Our focus is on well-being and productivity, emphasising real experiences and unique storytelling. Through articles, videos, and podcasts featuring business leaders, scientists, athletes, entertainers and new role models of success, we add a new dimension to the global conversation of wellness. Our stories discuss daily challenges, people’s personal journeys of how they thrive, and recommend solutions to bring purpose and wonder into our worlds. We realise that the struggles of our everyday life—stress, burnout, exhaustion, apathy, technological addiction—can be intimidatingly broad and numerous. And it’s only through lived and shared experiences of people, combined with expert data and science-based solutions, that we can achieve actual, dramatic results that help us live and work well. Our enterprise solutions There is a pervasive belief that burnout is the price we must pay for success, but research has shown it is a delusion. As a matter of fact, by prioritising our well-being, we pave way for a healthier, productive life with enhanced efficiency, decision making and creativity. Through our assessments, corporate workshops, digital engagement solutions and more, we bring to you science-backed well-being and performance-enhancing strategies, proven to help individuals and teams thrive.