Article: There is no one size fits all formula for well-being policies, says Sangeeta Chandran of TCS

Employee Relations

There is no one size fits all formula for well-being policies, says Sangeeta Chandran of TCS

It is important to make sure that whatever is done under well-being, it must be designed and tailored for the “whole person” and not just the one who is seen at the workplace, says Sangeeta Chandran.
There is no one size fits all formula for well-being policies, says Sangeeta Chandran of TCS

Workers’ well-being has become a key factor in determining an organisation's long-term effectiveness. Many studies show a direct link between productivity levels and the general health and well-being of the workforce. Considering people as the most important asset, enterprises and organisations are quick to start recognising the need to take the well-being of their workers seriously.

In view of the changing priorities of work, workforce, and employers, People Matters reached out to Sangeeta Chandran, Head of Safety and Well-Being Programs at TCS, to seek inputs from her on well-being practices relevant these days.

What are the key elements of your role as a safety and well-being leader?

Workplace well-being and safety relate to all aspects of associates’ working life, from the quality and safety of the physical environment, to how they feel about their work, their working environment, the climate at work, and work organisation.

At TCS, safety and well-being leadership involves:

Developing and operationalising strategy and collaboration for safety and wellbeing initiatives so that they are readily accessible to our associates and can be leveraged by them to be fitter, safer and happier.

Promoting and driving holistic wellbeing – interestingly with the recent Covid pandemic, the work and home boundaries have blurred even further, leading to a need to extend workplace wellbeing to holistic wellbeing.

People who come to work don’t bring just a part of themselves there. They come with their whole being – with their fitness, physical health, mental and emotional health, their family well-being, their social support systems, their financial health etc. Keeping this in mind, it is essential to ensure holistic well-being and safety across the organisation. It is important to make sure that whatever we do under well-being, we design and tailor it for the “whole person” and not just the one we may see at the workplace.

Therefore, ensuring that all our offerings and engagements are holistic is a key focus at TCS, along with making sure that we engage the leadership as well as the business in all our well-being initiatives.

What kinds of safety and well-being programmes or policies does your organisation have in place?

Workplace safety and well-being, for an organisation as large and diverse as TCS, is a multidimensional, multi-layered initiative. Organisations should develop well-being policies that fit their particular work environment. There is no one size fits all.

Some key factors which influence our programs and policies are

Diverse needs focus: Offerings are tailored for associate segments, life stage, life roles and business roles as well as specific business needs.

Accessibility and digitisation: Well-being offerings are made available through multi-delivery modes and multiple channels across the geographies.

Leadership endorsement and engagement: Involving leadership to endorse as well as contribute to well-being is key for all well-being initiatives to be impactful.

Based on these key factors, at TCS we have an entire well-being umbrella providing end-to-end wellbeing infrastructure and support offerings across diverse associate segments and diverse wellbeing aspects ranging from personal wellbeing to community support.

The TCS Cares to promote an environment of emotional and mental well-being and the TCS Safety First initiatives to implement and operationalise personal safety and well-being, are part of a larger well-being umbrella where the associates are provided offerings across a plethora of offerings, ranging from TCS Fit4Life to promote physical fitness, TCS Yoga, the HOPE volunteering initiative for fulfilling a purpose and giving back to society and TCS Maitree for social well-being.

Having a purpose beyond oneself is an important element of well-being and to promote this we have the HOPE program which is designed to channelise the TCS corporate volunteering efforts and enable TCS employees to contribute towards community well-being.

Wellbeing policies

As a policy feature, all well-being benefits are also extended to the families of associates.

One of the key policy changes introduced to reduce stigma around mental health was the “Emotional Wellbeing Leave” facility, which the associates could avail for supporting their mental health.

These changes made the associates feel more belongingness and support and also largely contributed to the “Holistic well-being” aspect.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your safety and well-being programs, and what metrics do you use to track progress?

The well-being impact is typically assessed through employee engagement indicators such as associate coverage, instant feedback mechanisms, annual employee satisfaction surveys, self-help resources utilisation, participation in well-being events and webinars, manager and HR referrals, and well-being trainings/certifications.

Associates can also log in their fitness efforts in the Fit4life portal and these points also become their contribution to the community as TCS contributes monetarily in equal measure to a community initiative of their choice.

Volunteering has a double impact – on well-being and in terms of help to the community – and these volunteering hours can also be logged in by associates to make them count. Recently, TCS ran a 1BillionHour HOPE volunteering initiative and associates contributed to it by contributing to various causes which are close to their hearts.

Stories sharing personal accounts of flourishing, resilience and life transformations from across the organisations also contribute to the progress of our well-being agendas.

How has progress been made in terms of safety and well-being at the workplace in metro and non-metro cities in a post-Covid world?

At TCS, the Support Policies and Well Being Programs are deployed in the same manner across all India locations. All our programs are deployed in our branches and also across business units and the wellbeing champions in each location help drive them with context to the location as well.

During Covid, most of the well-being strategies were in line with the need of the time and provided well-being support for rising concerns around anxiety, grief, and burnout.

Post covid there has been a focus shift from “Coping” to “Regulating” to eventually “Flourishing & Thriving”. This led to a proactive focus on strengthening individual resilience, promoting adaptability, and slow transitioning associates back to the workspaces.

Wellbeing assessments, tailored intervention programs, leadership engagements along with curated well-being sessions were promoted which helped associates ease back in the post-Covid world. 

With more associates coming back to the workplaces, offline engagements were amplified.

Workplace safety measures, fitness carnivals, health camps, floor connects, onsite doctors and wellbeing experts, and other offline engagements are being organised for the associates getting back to offices.

End to End well-being support is offered throughout the hybrid model across all TCS locations with constant touchpoints with the associates through our safety and wellbeing networks.

What are the challenges often faced by employees in seeking care for safety and well-being?

The challenges to seeking help and utilising the well-being offerings often are an eclectic combination of individual, organisational and socio-cultural setups.

The first and foremost here is awareness of the resources and well-being infrastructure available to them. Often this becomes a challenge in utilising the appropriate support within the workspace.

The diverse roles, projects, business functions may require different styles of commitments from associates, where fitting in personal well-being routines within these paradigms may be an initial challenge.

Another challenge is we may often end up normalising burnout and not realise that we actually may need support.  Till a point of chronic fatigue and burnout is reached, they may not reach out for help and support.

The challenges may also be segment specific, such as many women associates and caregivers are not able to structure their time for self-care and may end up feeling fatigued and burned out. Another example would be the Gen Z workforce may prefer more tailored or digital modes of well-being engagement.

How policies and laws can promote, protect, and democratise safety and well-being at the workplace?

Policies apart from providing the necessary support & rights to the associates also play a big role in communicating how the organisation or the employer is aligned with their associates’ well-being.

This plays a big factor in improving the employee experience and conviction as well.

  • Policies around workplace regulations, appreciations and award schemes, training & talent development can create a robust infrastructure for well-being to thrive on.
  • More recently, there has been a growing trend for the development of global health promotion policies by employers and their partners covering not only wellness but also a whole range of lifestyle issues including diet, exercise, and mental well-being.

For example, the inclusion of the “Emotional Wellness Leave” in our Leaves policy has contributed largely to the destigmatisation of mental health within the organisation with more and more associates feeling comfortable in coming up and speaking about their mental health, more so because now even the policy supports them.

Another example of a powerful policy tailoring is the “extension of wellbeing benefits to the associates’ family” which helped create a sense of belonging for our associates.

Speaking from experience, the key aspects and factors for an effective well-being policy would be

  • Holistic and Inclusive - Extensive & Associates focused, Inclusive benefits and well-being programs
  • Flexible – Global as well as region-based well-being laws with a stronger focus on psychological well-being
  • Growth Based - Strong focus on well-being trainings, certifications and creating a safer well-being infrastructure
  • Empowering - Employees to prioritise their well-being with easy access to health care and seamless well-being intervention

What advice would you give to employees or managers who want to be more involved in promoting safety and well-being in the workplace?

Managers and HRs play a very key role in promoting well-being and their involvement surely is a game changer for the impact and outreach of any wellbeing offering.

The very first and most important advice for everyone who wants to be involved in well-being and safety is to “lead through example and active participation”.

Commitment is best demonstrated through action, and we have seen that sensitised and well-being-aligned managers have a much better connection with their teams as well.

Apart from this, some other relevant practices as managers for promoting workplace well-being would be

  • Be aware of your organisation well-being policies and support infrastructure
  • Be present, listen, validate & acknowledge your teams
  • Create and nurture psychologically safe workspaces
  • Get trained and certified through well-being programs
  • Share your well-being stories and experiences
  • Well-being & safety starts with each one of us. So, make sure each one of us is connected with our own individual wellbeing before we extend our support to our teams and others.
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Topics: Employee Relations, Corporate Wellness Programs, Culture, #Wellbeing

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