A recent survey showed that nearly half the Indian workforce would be willing to change jobs owing to increased burnout and work-life imbalance. This sentiment was echoed in another study measuring the aspiration of the Indian workforce, which found that mental health was a top priority. These findings are longer the outlier, but the norm in today’s world. As employees return to the physical workplace and we start scripting the next phase of the future of work, it is an opportune moment to reflect and ask where we go from here, more specifically, what does workplace wellness now mean?
This article will discuss how elements of employee rewards and wellness have changed, how organisations have responded, and what can be a good starting point for HR and business leaders to adapt their rewards and wellness framework.
How has the concept of employee rewards and wellness changed?
Every aspect of the workplace has undergone a radical transformation over the past three years. Some of these changes have been direct, like where we work or how we hire talent, and others have been more indirect, like how we measure performance or reward successes. Specifically, for employee rewards and wellness, the change has been heralded by these four tenets:
- Expectations: Employees and employers have new expectations from each other. While employees expect employers to be more supportive of establishing a healthy work-life balance, employers are seeking workers who can adapt, persevere, and innovate.
- Location: Work is now truly location-agnostic, barring in some industries. As a result, what constitutes the traditional workplace, alongside its processes and norms, has changed. Workplace wellness is no longer about walking a certain number of steps or participating in a weekly yoga session but includes critical aspects like nutrition, fitness, sleep, mindfulness, and emotional wellness.
- Parity: Besides parity of pay, employees today expect parity in opportunities, incentives, and growth. As a result, companies have responded by changing how they measure performance. This is particularly important because a lot of the time, effort, and results put in by employees working remotely is at risk of going unnoticed by their managers.
- Trust: With record levels of quitting and hiring activity in the job market, both employees and employers need to trust each other to ensure their best interests. With remote work, employers need to trust employees to use their time and resources judiciously. Similarly, employees need to know that the data collected through increased surveillance and digital processes about their life, health, and wellbeing is secure and confidential.
What are organisations doing differently, and what are the new challenges?
Here are three sweeping changes that have taken place over the past three years that show how organisations are responding to the changes in the workplace:
Redefining Wellbeing: One of the most significant shifts has been the expansion of the concept of wellness by including components such as emotional wellbeing, social connection, financial health, and holistic physical fitness. Businesses made extra efforts to listen to what their employees wanted and started responding to those expectations. As a result, even the biggest IT companies announced a gradual and permanent shift to a hybrid work model, which would mean that only 25% of its staff is physically present in the office at any given time.
Customising Rewards Smartly: As the structure of the new workplace changes and employee expectations evolve, organisations started developing programs that catered to different types of employees within the company rather than offering a set bouquet of benefits. From insurance plans to wellness incentives, everything has been made more accessible, flexible, and customisable in the past three years.
Acknowledging and Recognising Efforts Differently: With blurring lines between personal and professional spaces, organisations started making an effort to support employees in creating boundaries and acknowledging efforts that would have otherwise been unrecognised. So, when a leading e-commerce company announced a 10-day company-wide break for all employees, it not only garnered public attention and support but set a benchmark for new and unique ways to acknowledge the hard work put in by employees.
Despite these steps, the reality remains that organisations have struggled to arrest attrition, sustain engagement and improve transparency in their communication. Similarly, in spite of increased investment and focus on employee wellbeing, issues like burnout and other mental health challenges remain consistently high. This is indicative that a gap remains between what HR leaders and organisations should do and what they are currently doing.
Re:Frame rewards and wellbeing: Where to begin?
It has been made abundantly clear that even reward strategies and wellbeing programs that worked spectacularly just a few years ago require a significant overhaul. But despite this realisation, many HR leaders and organisations are struggling to identify where to begin. With talent leaders torn between bringing rapid fundamental changes to the very nature of their rewards framework or introducing incremental interventions, the net result can be potentially dangerous inaction.
So, what can organisations and leaders do?
The first step is to learn, observe, unlearn, relearn and reimagine the concept of rewards and wellbeing. When business and HR leaders open themselves up to new ways of thinking, talk to stakeholders outside their immediate network, and become willing to adapt, the outcome will likely be more impactful and effective. Understanding how rewards, wellbeing, and incentives work is just the first step of the process, as it must be followed by a genuine commitment to implementing these concepts in today’s complex business paradigm.
To help organisations and HR practitioners reimagine rewards and wellbeing, People Matters is back with Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference 2022 on November 9, 2022, in Leela Ambience, Gurugram. The core focus of this year’s conference is ‘Re:Frame: The Opportunity Within.’
As a part of the People Matters Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference 2022, we will be focusing on the following themes of employee wellbeing and value proposition:
- Re:Frame Value Proposition for Future Readiness: Understanding how to design ‘non-traditional’ value propositions that meet the expectations of employees and organizations by integrating values like flexibility, well-being, and health in existing reward frameworks.
- Re:Frame Experience: Decoding how to design reward experiences that deliver value, engagement, and retention by making the entire rewards experience whole, more than the sum of its parts.
- Re:Frame Rewards Delivery and Infrastructure: Exploring how organisations can use emerging technologies to design and deliver dynamic and impactful rewards and wellness solutions by studying how industry leaders are innovating.
- Re:Frame Yourself: Reflecting on how HR and talent leaders can focus on their self-development and wellbeing by learning about the critical skills they need to build in order to bring change and accelerate impact.
With more than 35 sessions from over 40 leading industry leaders and speakers, the People Matters Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference 2022 can give you exclusive access to a valuable network of talent professionals, HR leaders, wellness experts, rewards organisations, and other key stakeholders. Besides learning from peers and experts, you can engage with exhibitors to review demonstrations of innovative market solutions.
Register now for People Matters Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference 2022 to learn more about how to design and implement an effective rewards strategy from leading industry experts.