The wellness movement has its genesis post World War II, when the health needs of the society changed, becoming more holistic, inclusive and preventive in its focus. This change is visible in the definition of health introduced by WHO in 1948 that explained, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social well-being and not just a mere absence of disease.”
Today, where corporate work styles and schedules are shaping work cultures, lifestyles and health behaviors, there are enough data showing the rise in lifestyle related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc. especially in young corporate India.
Worldwide, the scope of worksite wellness is constantly being revised to include activities ranging from education and awareness, to employee health services, employee assistance programs, fitness nutrition and behavioral counseling. However, in India, the scope still seems to be limited. Comprehensive wellness programs go beyond just health screenings and empower an individual to understand health needs, take responsibility for it, and strive daily to achieve the optimal level of physical, emotional and mental well-being.
According to Towers Watson research, which captured data from leading global insurance companies, the rise in healthcare costs is expected to go up to 13 percent in 2012. With medical bills rising faster than inflation, tertiary care, especially for lifestyle disorders, is becoming increasingly costly. This rising cost not only affects an individual or his family, but also the organization in terms of their claims ratio, absenteeism and employee turnover.
These findings clearly indicate the need for corporate India to invest on wellness in the workplace, lest it begins to show drastic repercussions in the business bottom lines.
Reasons why worksite wellness must go beyond employee engagement
1. The alarming numbers of heart ailments, obesity, diabetes, and depression indicate the rapidly deteriorating lifestyle behaviors in India
2. These ailments are caused by a similar set of environmental and lifestyle behaviors, which are easily modifiable
3. Reasons why worksites are the ideal setting for lifestyle modification programs:
- On an average, an Indian employee spends 40 percent of his day at work or doing work-related activity
- Easy availability of a target group in one place at one time
- Opportunity to incentivize and motivate healthy behavior
- Enough support to bring about socio-cultural changes
- Benefits could extend to families and dependents, thus influencing communities
4. Benefits to employee & employer:
Benefits to employer
- Reduced healthcare cost
- Reduced injuries
- Reduced absenteeism
- Better employee morale & loyalty
- Increased potential to attract talent
Benefits to employee
- Reduced stress
- Improved well-being and fitness
- More stamina
- Better productivity
- Improved self-esteem