Article: Banking on wellness: Deutsche Bank’s take on well-being at work

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Banking on wellness: Deutsche Bank’s take on well-being at work

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Deutsche Bank has been in operation since 1870 and has undertaken multiple reinvention endeavours. How has the bank evolved with regard to wellness at work?
Banking on wellness: Deutsche Bank’s take on well-being at work

Deutsche Bank has been in operation since 1870 and through these years, the bank has had to reinvent itself from being a highly traditional bank to the enterprise it is today. Evolution and adaptability must be the key to survive, thrive and grow with the changing times. Understanding that changes to employees‘ personal circumstances may affect their health and wellbeing, which in turn affects their productivity and engagement at work, leads to a much clearer and thoughtful approach to the concepts of wellness, engagement and productivity as work based on the balance these pillars need to share. Hence, the focus at Deutsche Bank has always been on providing an environment that can help employees achieve their full potential, individually and collectively.

Having established its first branch in India in 1980, the bank currently has over 13,000 employees in the country, operating branches in 16 cities. Wellness initiatives gained momentum in 2013 with the empanelment of the first Employee Assistance Program and health screening vendors. The launch of any new initiative comes with the need to educate employees to enable them to make the most of it and 2014 to 2016 were spent in doing exactly that. Whether it is getting employees across locations involved in Zumba, encouraging them to access nutrition classes or launching a Stepathlon with over 1000 employees participating in the global race, Deutsche Bank has been promoting a wellness first approach across all levels and locations.

 A culture of wellness

Deutsche Bank has six values that drive its functions globally – Integrity, Sustainable Performance, Client Centricity, Innovation, Discipline and Partnership. People being at the core of all operations, wellness is viewed as an integration of four critical pillars. 

Below is a snapshot of the wellness architecture that Deutsche Bank follows:

At Deutsche Bank, well-being goes beyond physical and mental health and being a financial firm, the concept of financial wellness is naturally ingrained into the culture. Core values of client centricity and integrity are thus not only applied to external clients but also to internal clients - employees. Keeping the value of partnership in mind inspired the genesis of social wellness at Deutsche Bank.

This year, the bank plans to roll out an elaborate Wellness Framework globally which will serve as the platform for strengthening and structuring the focus on wellness.

 Making business sense

While most companies today are trying to incorporate health and wellness frameworks into their regular workday, it is often difficult to make a tangible business case for the same. At Deutsche Bank, however, employee wellness being rooted at the heart of the organizational culture and business philosophy, a business-case based approach was never necessary. It is part of the corporate identity, and not necessarily seen as a means to an end. This approach is not only unique but also facilitates an environment that cares genuinely.

 The month of October, 2018 is dedicated to wellness under the umbrella theme #BetterForIt that encapsulates the four pillars of wellness at the bank. The International Mental Health Day on 10th October was celebrated as Green Day at Deutsche Bank globally. The plan is to have subject matter experts speak on some of the relevant hot-topics on mental wellness such as mindfulness and mental health first-aid across locations. From health risk assessments, eye-checkups, diet consultations and ergonomics sessions to Yoga, Zumba, policy awareness and orientation sessions for both managers and employees, the idea is to make a wide range of facilities available to every employee.

The art and science of preventive wellness

The journey towards a preventive wellness approach maybe long and riddled with challenges, but it allows the whole organization to look at health as not merely an absence of disease or disorder but rather a state of holistic well-being and happiness. Deutsche Bank offers free health checkups for employees over the age of 35 and discounted health check-ups for employees under the age of 35 to enable a more watchful and healthier lifestyle.

A sympathetic ear: With mental and emotional wellbeing in mind, having structured EAP services allow employees or their family members to directly contact a counselor without the organization knowing or getting involved in the process.

Wellness for all: Wellness benefits at Deutsche Bank are governed by gender-neutral policies. With insurance policies (in place long before the Supreme Court ruling on Article 377 in India) that allow employees to opt for same-gender partners, the bank ensures that policies are LGBT friendly. Without the usual classification of maternal and paternal leaves, the bank provides 26 weeks of paid leaves to the primary child caregiver irrespective of their gender and the other partner automatically becomes eligible for 10 days of secondary caregiver leave. Besides, having gender-neutral childcare policies also communicate a certain level of fairness that is part of the culture at work besides harping on the concept of diversity and inclusion in practice.

Family focus: Bearing in mind the level of stress that our modern lives entail, employees at the bank can avail 0.5 day leave every 2 months to cater to personal/lifestyle needs. They can also avail 3 days of family-care leaves to take care of a sick or ailing family member.

Social Wellness:  Owing to the diminishing culture of social and in-person interactions, social wellness initiatives such as hobby classes, group activities and community volunteering camps focus on bringing in people of similar interests together and building a culture of belongingness and bonding.

Below is a snapshot highlighting some wellness interventions that Deutsche Bank undertakes under each of its pillars in the wellness framework:


A kaleidoscope of challenges

The concept of wellness is like a kaleidoscope - complex and constantly evolving. The rules change continually and so does our outlook. It is thus difficult to evaluate the kind of wellness programs that have an extensive impact beyond what can be tangibly measured. Deutsche Bank is a multifaceted organization with numerous legal entities and vastly varying employee demographics. In such a dynamic and diverse organization, a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness is not only difficult but might prove to be ineffective as well. With some sections of the organization focusing more on physical wellness and others turning the lens more on mental or financial wellness, the need arises for need-based wellness interventions.

Beyond topline

The opportunities to strengthen and improve in the area of wellness are immense. The bank aims at exploring solutions to change behavior patterns towards more focus on health and wellbeing in the future. With a culture that regards wellness as a part of daily functioning the link between wellness and employee engagement is further strengthened – when you are holistically healthy and happy, you are more engaged at work. Wellness initiatives may not be a means to an end but are surely an effective tool for driving performance. That said, the Deutsche Bank’s perspective on wellness allows the organization to focus beyond topline and look at wellness as it is – a necessity – for happier and healthier employees, everyday.

 As told to Jerry Moses and Prarthana Ghosh

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #Wellness Wins

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