Article: How companies are prioritising employee health for organisational success


How companies are prioritising employee health for organisational success

Gone are the days when employee health initiatives were confined to physical fitness alone. Today, companies are adopting a holistic approach, integrating both mental and physical wellness into their corporate culture.
How companies are prioritising employee health for organisational success

This World Health Day, People Matters takes a look at the importance of healthy and happy employees as a business imperative, and how organisations have upgraded their approach to taking care of the mental and physical well-being of their employees.

Initiatives to improve health include a comprehensive support system, including physical and mental well-being sessions, financial wellness programs, and top-tier insurance coverage for unforeseen medical needs for employees and their immediate family members. Fitness sessions like Yoga or Zumba, wellness programs, anonymous support channels for employees to address challenges and grievances without any fear or judgment, and family gatherings for employees to introduce their families to their colleagues as well, significant discounts on lab tests, fitness plans, doctor consultations, doorstep delivery of medicines, and much more are some of the initiatives companies have taken to promote the well-being of their employees.

Some companies have even broadened their focus to include sleep health as well. Last year, Bengaluru-based startup Wakefit introduced a dedicated nap time from 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. under its ‘Right to Nap' initiative, advocating the benefits of short rests. The rationale behind this shift is that wellness impacts not only individual job satisfaction and performance but also significantly affects the broader organisational morale, productivity, and effectiveness.

According to Umanath Nayak, HR Head at The 'Right to Nap' policy has had positive results. “This initiative has not only enhanced our team's performance but has also contributed to a more motivated and content workforce,” Umanath said about the outcome.

Here are some other ways in which industry leaders are taking care of their employees.

 “Health and wellness are foundational pillars for our team members' success, driving optimal performance and productivity,” says Santosh T K, Talent Acquisition Head, India, Dell Technologies.

“Prioritising personal well-being fosters a conducive environment for sustained professional growth. Our employees are offered limitless opportunities, flexibility, and an inclusive culture, where they can be their true selves at work. Empathy and consideration for employees’ wellbeing have gained a lot of traction due to the toll the pandemic has taken on an individual’s mental health,” says Santosh.

Recognising the power of flexibility in shaping a balanced life, Amway embraced a hybrid work model and flexible hours, empowering employees to easily navigate their schedules. “For employees at our manufacturing unit, we’re creating more flexibility around shifts and a greater emphasis on work-life balance,” says Ritika Malik, Vice President, HR, Amway India.

While there are many strategies devised for talent attraction and retention, says Dinesh Menon, Founders' Office - Strategy, Investor Relations & People, Onsurity, the new-age workforce is attracted to organisations that prioritise employee health and overall well-being.

"Today, employees are not just looking at insurance. They expect more futuristic plans. Benefits such as coverage for egg freezing, critical illness, loss of pay due to health conditions etc., is something that are actively seeking. Comprehensive health and wellness benefits have a lasting effect on job seekers as well as existing employees, thus making attraction and retention of talent a seamless process. Employees stay longer with a company that truly values their well-being," adds Dinesh.

 Initiatives for physical fitness

During the pandemic, says Santosh, leaders at Dell were very cognisant of the fact that “staying home” poses its own set of challenges—one of which is the ability and motivation to stay fit. “Recognising this need, we have set up a wellness hub where we are building excitement and running a “steps challenge” amongst other programmes where employees have an opportunity to compete with and against peers across the world and track progress in real-time.”

Understanding the importance of mental and physical health, Dell is offering an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through its partner who provides professional counselling services. “We also have ‘Dell Wellness Hub’ that has been continuously supporting our team members’ wellness journey including their mental health, physical wellbeing, and financial wellness. Along with wellness, maintaining a proper personal and professional balance is also a key pillar for Dell Technologies’ people philosophy. And as part of the Global Balance Campaign, we continue to invest in our team members, with wellness resources that help them feel their best. Through comprehensive wellness programs, including access to mental health resources, fitness initiatives, and health screenings, we are focused on the holistic well-being of our teams.”

Role of HR in wellness initiative

The HR folks have a critical role in implementing wellness initiatives, believes Ritika.  “Fostering a supportive work culture, providing resources for physical and mental health, and advocating for policies that prioritise employee well-being to attract and retain talent effectively are the key priorities for HR leaders are the key responsibilities of HR leaders.”

According to Ritika, investing in employee health and well-being is not just a commitment but a cornerstone of organisational ethos.

The Human Resource (HR) department plays a pivotal role in promoting and protecting the health of employees within an organisation. As per a report, an alarming 43% of Indian tech workers encounter health issues directly linked to their job responsibilities. Additionally, the study indicates that these health issues go beyond physical ailments, with almost 45% of respondents facing mental health challenges like stress, anxiety, and depression.

Samra Rehman, Head of People and Culture, Hero Vired says that HR leaders are responsible for establishing policies and programs that prioritise employee well-being, such as implementing health insurance plans, offering gym memberships or fitness classes, and organising wellness workshops. “HR also fosters a supportive culture by addressing issues affecting mental health, facilitating open communication, and providing resources for stress management. In short, the HR department should serve as a beacon of support, ensuring employees feel valued and empowered to prioritise their health,” adds Samra.

An asset to organisation's success

Manish Anandani, MD of Kenvue India, believes that when employees are empowered to prioritise their health and well-being, they are better equipped to contribute meaningfully to the organisation's success.

According to Anandani, their Global Wellbeing reimbursement is one such policy that enables employees to pursue activities of their choice focusing on healthy eating, healthy movement, and emotional well-being to personalise their approach to health.

Supporting employees at an individual level, says Anandani, enables the entire team to create a fully engaged and performing workforce.

Common challenges to keep a look out for

Stress, lack of work-life balance, sedentary lifestyle, leading to health problems like back pain, obesity, and cardiovascular issues, and poor mental health are some of the common health challenges employees may face in the workplace. A recent survey by Great Place To Work India revealed that one in four Indian employees find it challenging to speak up about stress, burnout, anxiety, or depression without fearing judgement.

“HR leaders can address these challenges by creating conducive and productive work culture, flexible work schedules, and implementing systems for holistic health. They should also foster a culture where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns and accessing support resources, such as counselling services and employee assistance programs. By proactively addressing these challenges, HR leaders can promote a healthier and more efficient workforce,” explains Samra.

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Topics: #Culture, Employee Relations, Employee Engagement, #Wellbeing, #HRCommunity, #DayInFocus

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