In a fireside chat on Integrating Primary Care & Wellbeing Into Your Wellness Program at People Matters TRWC 2023, Rohit Chohan, Co-Founder & CEO of Truworth Wellness engaged with Lipika Verma, VP Rewards & Performance Innovation at Schneider Electric and Rishi Khandelwal, Director Compensation & Benefits at Microsoft on crucial topics of holistic wellness for employees.
Kickstarting the discussion, Rohit questioned Lipika, “When we talk about well-being, it encompasses a more comprehensive perspective, considering physical, mental, social, financial aspects, and nowadays environmental wellness too. As we witness numerous issues, how do organizations transition from wellness to well-being? Specifically, what are the key policies that will genuinely enhance the well-being of employees?
To which Lipika answered, “When considering wellness, it involves integrating benefits design and specific interventions for aspects like physical and mental well-being. However, the context is evolving, and what we observe is that each employee is unique. Therefore, the challenge is in designing policies, better policies that truly ensure we are addressing hyper-personalization. Even when crafting policies for physical well-being, the goal is to ensure they align with the individual needs of every employee and cater to their specific life stage. Numerous benefit policies revolve around medical insurance and mental well-being, including Employee Assistance Program (EAP) solutions and similar initiatives. However, the current emphasis is on how to construct benefit policies in a hyper-personalized manner. The focus is on developing interventions that are co-designed by both employees and the organization, ensuring they match the distinctive needs of each individual within the company.”
Rishi added, “Establishing the right cultural well-being is significantly more crucial than merely augmenting well-being policies and programs on their own. The key point is that culture plays a more pivotal role than the programs themselves. While programs are essential and must meet a certain baseline, the critical factor is the alignment between the leader's actions and statements, known as the say-do ratio. If there's a disparity in this ratio between leaders and employees, regardless of the program's quality, the desired impact won't be achieved. So, both the say-do ratio and the policy's quality are imperative.”
How can HR leaders leverage care and benefits to foster an emotional connection with employees?
Lipika shared, the reason we emphasize benefits and well-being initiatives is to foster increased employee engagement, leading to enhanced retention and ultimately higher productivity and performance. The ultimate goal organizations strive for is a high performing workforce. The impact of such policies on employees and their emotional connection to the organization is crucial. While compensation is significant, the sticking point for employees lies in how they emotionally engage with these policies. For example: at Schneider, transforming sick leave into care leave, extending not only to the individual but also to immediate family and even pet care, was a creative move. Another aspect of this policy is the redefinition of maternity and paternity leave as primary and secondary leave, accommodating the diverse needs of the LGBTQIA+ community within the organization. These seemingly small changes have a significant cost impact, especially in countries like the U.S., where government policies may not provide for such measures. Offering a four-week secondary leave for a secondary care period, even for blue-collar employees, has proven to be impactful. The positive testimonials received upon availing of these policies highlight the emotional connection employees feel. The key takeaway is that policies should be designed with care and responsibility, aiming to address the needs of employees. By creating a sense of care and responsibility, we ensure that employees not only connect with these policies but also feel emotionally and rationally connected to the company. So, it's heartening to know that in your design of benefit policies, there is a genuine emotional connection established, which is a significant achievement.”
Impact of C-suite leaders participating in care and well-being programmes
Rishi explained, “Leadership plays an exceptionally crucial role in this context. Top-down communication fosters a shared understanding within the organization. The leaders' say-do ratio holds immense significance in driving cultural development. If this ratio is not in favor, it won't contribute positively. Another critical aspect is the support of energy.
For example, Satya Nadella stated “care is the new currency.” This underscores the importance of leaders and managers demonstrating care to emotionally connect with employees. For instance, we have identified three pillars for leaders and managers: model, coach, and care. These pillars form a vital part of how well-being permeates through the organization, from leaders to managers to employees. Culture serves as the secret sauce behind this entire initiative, and its impact won't be substantial unless there is visible action from the organization.
When we embarked on the transformation journey, we realized that any policy, be it related to well-being or otherwise, needs to focus on critical areas. Storytelling is crucial for well-being programs or any HR initiative. Without it, the journey from awareness to adoption, a critical path for any organization in well-being programs, won't succeed. Leaders play a pivotal role in creating awareness and advocacy. With the right programs and policies, things naturally fall into place.
Gauging the effectiveness of well-being initiatives
Sharing Schneder’s well-being journey, Lipika shared, “When we were introducing various additions, whether in physical, mental, social, or emotional aspects. The finance team posed a challenge, asking how we could demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) for the company's well-being initiatives. At that point, we didn’t have a straightforward answer, but we embarked on finding a solution. To gauge the effectiveness of these programs, we started examining ways to calculate ROI. For physical well-being, we assessed the health index of individuals at an aggregated level, tracking how it positively influenced outcomes. We also looked at the claim premium ratio and conducted extensive data analysis for 25,000 employees, identifying trends that indicated an impact on their lives.
In the realm of mental well-being, we implemented an energy audit where employees completed a questionnaire on their physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being over the past year. This approach yielded remarkable results for each individual, providing valuable insights. Ultimately, after implementing various interventions, there is a tangible, albeit indirect, way to observe the results. We evaluate the holistic movement by examining the enhancement of employee engagement in the subsequent year. This broader perspective allows us to assess the overall impact of our initiatives.”
To this Rishi added, “A common hurdle when implementing well-being programs. Looking ahead, it's crucial to consider that long-term decisions cannot be based on short-term data. Merely relying on participation numbers is insufficient; capturing the right input is essential. Tracking employee sentiment is a significant parameter. Monitoring sentiment around well-being and assessing the consistent investment of managers and leaders provides valuable insights into program effectiveness and benefits. Additionally, tracking the impact of policies helps understand how they influence behaviors. It's essential to have a longitudinal view of data points and avoid the pitfall of making decisions based on short-term inputs, as it proves unhelpful. Taking decisions based on the situation in 2015 for a larger perspective would likely have led to significant pitfalls, emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive and long-term approach to data analysis and decision-making.”