Article: Wells Fargo’s underlying well-being philosophy is “being your best you”: Vidya Lakshmi, Head HR

Employee Assistance Programs

Wells Fargo’s underlying well-being philosophy is “being your best you”: Vidya Lakshmi, Head HR

The business case for investing in well-being is fairly straightforward, where the impact is directly on the employees and therefore business outcomes significantly, believes Vidya Lakshmi, Head HR, Wells Fargo India & Philippines.
Wells Fargo’s underlying well-being philosophy is “being your best you”: Vidya Lakshmi, Head HR

The new reality of the world of work has brought forth an acute awareness of health and well-being, calling on corporations to devise innovative ways to integrate employee well-being into the flow of work to help their staff perform optimally. There is a clear opportunity for companies to leverage workplace design to nurture holistic well-being for people at work. So what can organizations do to incorporate well-being by design to reimagine work holistically?

In an exclusive interaction with us, Vidya Lakshmi, newly appointed Head of Human Resources, Wells Fargo India & Philippines, sheds light on some of the focus areas when it comes to the well-being of employees.

Today, organisations are reimagining almost all aspects of work and are looking at employee health holistically to better support their workforce. So, how can they incorporate design features and amenities to prompt well-being at the workplace?

At Wells Fargo, we take a holistic approach to promoting employee health and wellness. We endeavor to create programs and facilities across 5 wellbeing dimensions – physical, emotional, financial, social and personal – to address the needs of employees and their families holistically. We have always firmly espoused work-life integration by enabling facilities such as gyms, sports arenas, recreation spaces, resting rooms and mother care facilities, primary healthcare centers (with a leading healthcare provider), breakout areas with board games to de-stress, and cafeterias that offer healthy food options. 

In light of the pandemic, with the definition of workplace no longer restricted only to the physical work location, we have re-envisioned our strategy to be flexible and adaptable across different media. 

Accordingly, we have changed the well-being delivery model from in-person to virtual, and partnered with vendors who can customize dynamic well-being solutions. 

Just this year, we delivered numerous programs virtually on a broad gamut of focus areas, such as, fitness solutions, personal financial planning, managing stress effectively, child well-being, and facilitating mind-body nutrition.  In the next few weeks, to encourage employees to adopt an active lifestyle, in association with a leading wellness partner, we are launching a 6-month-long physical well-being challenge as well.  

We are particularly proud of our unique and robust Well-being Champions program sponsored by a senior leader and run by employees. This has been critical in ensuring that we inculcate the lens of well-being in our organizational culture. Additionally, we also have Self Interest Groups that encourage a vibrant interest landscape catering to music, dance, yoga, photography, drama, toastmasters club, Runners and Riders club, and more. 

These initiatives address all of the 5 wellbeing dimensions and are aligned with our global well-being strategy, which we believe is the key to success. 

What are some of the focus areas when it comes to the well-being of employees?

Wells Fargo’s underlying well-being philosophy is “being your best you”, which encourages employees to live well and be healthy, without having to measure their success against others.

This is possible only when we as an organization address well-being holistically across physical, emotional, financial, social, and personal dimensions. Our focus is not only to deliver programs to employees but also to their extended families, which supports their holistic wellbeing. 

One of our unique offerings caters to child well-being. For this, we partnered with a leading childcare well-being company and rolled out initiatives targeted at different age cohorts. For instance, we found that one of the most impacted groups during the pandemic was the school and collegiate children who had lost social connections and adopted behavior patterns, such as extensive use of electronic devices.  In addition, our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers counselling and targeted information sessions on restful sleep, cultivating thriving relationships, coping with personal loss, and mental health in an unequal world, which saw strong uptake, especially during the time of the pandemic. 

How should HR leaders partner with tech leaders to ensure that technologies, workflows and processes are designed in a way that enshrines worker well-being?

I am a firm believer in the benefits of leveraging technology for well-being provision. The fintech industry abounds with examples of automation, robotics, digitization and data used for employee well-being. 

At Wells Fargo, in addition to drawing on insights from data to design our well-being strategy and creating dynamic well-being programs, solutions, and support that are accessible through multiple media platforms, our focus is on providing the best employee experience. We are in the midst of a company-wide HR service transformation to better serve and support employees through tools and platforms that provide a simpler, connected, and human experience where and when needed. 

What are some of the technologies/platforms that can be invested in to ensure employee well-being?

Products and solutions are mushrooming to capture the digital wellness market. We feel the need and demand will rise further with the current pandemic and it is crucial that we use technology well to provide employees with the right solutions. We have looked at products that are scalable and flexible and can be customized. 

For a successful and enriching employee experience, we have used a combination of specialist and generic providers based on the nature of the program. For health, we partnered with India’s leading private hospital and healthcare company providing end-to-end health management support from teleconsultation to diagnostics to home delivery of medicine. At the same time, we identified a leading wellness partner providing digital well-being across the holistic well-being dimensions. The selection process is robust with lot of weightage on data privacy and security, encryption standard, user interface, ability to generate metrics and insights, among many other parameters. 

How would companies justify the business case -- in terms of adaptability, innovation and employee experience, for investing in well-being?

The business case for investing in well-being is fairly straightforward, where the impact is directly on the employees and therefore business outcomes significantly.

Employees are better present at work, improving productivity, reducing healthcare costs, and improving employee engagement. Robust data insights support our well-being efforts, analysis of which has spotlighted specific opportunities for designing well-being interventions. While our well-being efforts are focused across the population, there is a heightened lens on the more vulnerable segments to enhance their wellness. 

With multiple generations operating in the workplace, we have adopted evidence-based strategy to design well-being programs for multiple demographics and behavioral needs. We are also continually looking to improve ourselves through employee feedback, external industry connects, and benchmarking against peers in the industry. 

We are beginning to measure and witness these outcomes as the investment in well-being efforts bear fruit over a sustained period of time.

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Topics: Employee Assistance Programs, #WellbeingByDesign

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