Article: Designing wellness initiatives for a multi-generational workforce

Employee Engagement

Designing wellness initiatives for a multi-generational workforce

Hear how leading organizations are designing wellness initiatives focused on the physical, the social and mental well-being of employees; the challenges faced while designing such initiatives and the impact created.
Designing wellness initiatives for a multi-generational workforce

All organizations are striving hard to create effective wellness programs at their workplace in order to curb rising healthcare cost and help their workforce lead healthier lives. However, these wellness initiatives are not just about keeping the workforce physically healthy. The focus is more towards a holistic wellbeing concept which features physical, social and mental fitness together. With this context, the Fireside Chat discussion session took off during the Total Rewards and Wellness Conclave 2018 in Mumbai. The session was moderated by Aravind Srinivasaraghavan - Senior Director HR (Compensation & Benefits -Cognizant), and participated by Rohit Thakur – India HR Head (Accenture), Nanjappa B S - Vice President & Head - Employee Relations & Head HR (Infosys) and Dr. Noel Coutinho, Senior Vice President - BD (eKincare).

During the discussion on how organizations are designing wellness initiatives for managing their multigenerational workforce together, the top three focus areas came up which can be summarized as:

Understand what your employee wants!

The companies have been pushing various employee wellness programs for years; however, the prerogative lies in basically understanding the expectation of individual generations before introducing a company-wide plan. Accenture has designed various wellness programs on the philosophy of “bottom-up push and top-down support.” In this approach employee push for the kind of wellness program, they intend to have which varies from one team to another.  “We offer what employees want. Instead of 10 big programs for the entire company, we have 100 small programs incubated in various teams”, says Rohit.

Infosys and Accenture have been running various initiatives to improve the overall wellness of the employees to keep their engagement and morale high in the workplace. The transition has already started by replacing big wellness program with small incubated programs to provide more customization and personalization for the maximum uptake and output.

Holistic Approach

Accenture has started this journey to offer a more customized solution for corporate wellness by linking the programs with four aspects - Body, Mind, Heart, and Soul. They have in-house gyms for body’s fitness and have created stop stigma campaigns based on mental health issues under the ‘Mind’ segment. Hash-tag inclusion programs and connecting souls by sharing together a sense of purpose adds to the rest of the two buckets. In Infosys too, they have more than 3,200 people championed for a holistic wellbeing cause. And Aravind spontaneously coined such holistic human framework for wellness as “work yoga” as it covers all four focus areas of yoga – body, mind, heart, and soul.

Incentivize Wellness Participation

Companies have started incentivizing wellness participation. For Example, wellness voucher can be given as a prize for internal program participation. By using this strategy, Infosys has seen improvement in corporate wellness programs uptake in last 24 months.  As per Dr. Noel, the company incentive policy should be linked to the wellness of employee and his/her family.  He says, “Wellness of the employee depends most of the time on the wellness of the family instead of his/her own wellness.”

The Challenges

  1. One of the most important challenges faced by the majority of organizations is related to building a culture of wellness within the company. The wellness programs do not see much employee participation and face low success rate if implemented in isolation. They should actually be an intrinsic part of the company culture. 
  2. Also, the challenge of personalization is easy said than done. In Infosys, it has been focusing on segmentation of wellness programs to deal with the demands of the multi-generational workforce since the very beginning.  However, its more about scale Vs. personalization as around 2000 people sometimes joins the company in a single day. 
  3. Another problem is related to tracking of individual employee health index by bringing technology in wellness. Though there are a plethora of digital platforms which allows individual to click a picture of the physical document on a mobile phone and store it in this wellness app.  This information is used to send personalized tips, offers and suggestions to employees concerning his/her medical history. However, organizations still are not using technology to the core to address the same.

The AEIOU Model

A minimum of nine hours of a desk job, restricted time for physical activity, a gigantic number of employees seen in business travel and a huge increase in commuting time from home to work is paving the way for everyone to start re-looking at wellness more holistically. From creating new personalized wellness programs to imbibing it in the culture, a huge amount is being spent to keep the multi generational workforce healthy in all respect. And keeping this in mind, Nanjappa BS shares a quite insightful framework termed as AEIOU model that stands for:

A - Awareness on the part of employees

E - Executive leadership commitment

I - Innovation through reinventing the offerings

O - Outcome-based offerings and 

U - User experience by keeping the employee in the center of the model

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Topics: Employee Engagement, #TRWC2018

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