Let’s take a look at the ways in which talent leaders can creatively design an employee wellness strategy that remains sustainable in the future workplace as well. Here are some insights from the roundtable session organized by People Matters and Sanofi Pasteur on the theme, ‘Design a future-ready wellness strategy - The missing piece of preventive healthcare’ at Pune.
From the ancient times of a single “haquim” (or village doctor) taking care of an entire town’s health needs, to today’s era of healthcare and fitness apps dictating the kind of food humans consume and the way they exercise, it is becoming more and more clear that each organization now needs an employee wellness program that will be sustainable and viable in the future.
The eternal struggle between lifestyle management and disease management continues to remain the focus area for organizations across various sectors, noted Mrugesh Dholakia, Head of Bien-etre from Sanofi Pasteur, as he presented a joint research on Contemporary Trends & Challenges of Workplace Wellness Programs in India 2019. He also noted that keeping the employees engaged over a long period of time was cited as one of the major challenges faced by organizations while designing wellness programs.
Apart from the looming question of getting the employees’ buy-in, Dholakia added that unlocking the puzzle of Return on Investment (ROI) on strategies such as an employee wellness program is the need of the hour.
When an employee brings herself or himself to work, if they are healthy in mind and body they are bound to become more productive in their work and also reap more rewards out of their jobs. In today’s demanding workplaces where deadline pressures and other stressors are high, it is essential to take care of your health and your employees’ health, Dholakia shared.
Productivity of the employees, healthcare costs and employee engagement are the three primary factors that are on every HR leader’s mind when it comes to implementing a holistic wellness strategy that would positively impact the business bottom-line.
Rahul Verma, Global Head of Performance, Reward & Mobility with Tata Technologies, shared the story of how engaging employees in a wellness program is possible by providing strategic incentives. At Tata Technologies, Verma said, the team revamped the entire wellness strategy by keeping the “employee care” at the center and creating awareness among the people at various levels of the organization.
“We kept asking ourselves this question: how can we bring about a mindset shift from wellness to wellbeing?” said Verma. “The value of human life has to be consistent across the organization. Our policies should reflect the value because medical illness has no age boundaries.”
According to Verma, who has more than 18 years of experience as an HR professional in various sectors, measuring the ROI on wellness strategies becomes easier when the HR team starts observing a direct increase in overall employee productivity and a sustained interest in the initiatives.
The key to ensuring that a wellness program stands the test of time is to keep the entire effort focused on the employee, said Dnyan Shah, Senior Vice President & Global Head of HR at Mphasis.
Clear, concise and appealing communication can go a long way in getting the employees interested in joining and tangible incentives can keep them committed to the goal in the long-term, Shah added.
To that end, another challenge that many HR leaders said they faced while designing and delivering a holistic and future-ready employee wellness strategy was the pressure of shrinking budgets, catering to different age groups and building a business case.
HR leaders have a multitude of responsibilities when it comes to their employee wellness and productivity goals. Many a time, when faced with the mammoth task of executing a wellness strategy on a budget, Nilesh Salvi, Manager, HR and Wellness Lead, Tech Mahindra, found that identifying champions within the organization who would prove to be a source of inspiration to begin taking care of one’s health played an instrumental role.
Perhaps, some members of your workforce are good at yoga, meditation, kickboxing or marathons, who could act as ambassadors and then motivate the rest of the team to get involved in any activity of choice.
“Let’s present all the options and let the employees choose which activities they enjoy. That’s how we started,” Salvi said, during a Roundtable Discussion in Pune where leaders from Sanofi Pasteur and HR leaders from various sectors shared their thoughts on how to create a future-ready wellness strategy.
“We try to make an all-inclusive program in a way that people of different age groups, different physical capabilities can participate,” said Arun Sharma, Director of Head HR Operations, BNY Mellon. “The key to making any of these programs successful is to instill a sense of competition as well.”
Sharma also urged talent leaders to incorporate a system of incentives and rewards in order to get more people on-board wellness initiatives.
Echoing the sentiment expressed by Sharma, Vrinda Parasnis, Global Head of People Engagement at Persistent Systems Limited, added that creating communities within the organization is crucial to ensuring that there is employee engagement.
“We don’t need robust budgets when there is a motivation to stay healthy,” Parasnis said. “It’s about creating that awareness about taking care of your own body.”
For Persistent Systems, creating communities that are interested in different fitness activity has seemed to be working. The communities interact with each other using an internal portal and at the same time engage in activities such as organizing treks, Zumba dancing, walking and running.
A lack of interest and engagement from the employees was a major challenge faced by most of the HR leaders participating in the discussion. More often than not the HR’s emails about wellness programs remain unopened in email inboxes.
“People might not respond well to emails. However, if you approach employees through communities on Whatsapp, Instagram, and other social media platforms, you’ll find that many employees are quite keen,” added Parasnis.
Be it through creating internal communities or revamping the entire healthcare strategy for the organization--each and every company is working towards creating a more productive workforce in a way that they are ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow. The next step for most leaders is to constantly evolve as their employees’ healthcare needs continue to change. The key is to consistently revamp existing wellbeing notions in order to become future-ready in the long-run.
(The session is based on the roundtable session organized by People Matters and Sanofi Pasteur on the theme, ‘Design a future-ready wellness strategy - The missing piece of preventive healthcare’ at Pune.)