Article: Employee well-being a strategic investment, not just a perk: Truworth Wellness' Rohit Chohan

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Employee well-being a strategic investment, not just a perk: Truworth Wellness' Rohit Chohan

Through this interview with Rohit Chohan, People Matters deconstructs the concept of preventive wellness and discusses how organisations can make employee well-being more effective and practical.
Employee well-being a strategic investment, not just a perk: Truworth Wellness' Rohit Chohan

As organisations continue to pay greater attention to employee well-being, the corporate wellness space in India is slowly maturing to embrace long-term outcome-based goals. While this shift has partly resulted from the pandemic, technological changes and employee expectations have also contributed to a rapidly changing wellness landscape. 

But what are these shifts that will dictate future wellness trends? And more importantly, what new approaches are industry leaders following in designing corporate wellness programmes? And how do HR leaders make this transition to an outcome-based approach? 

People Matters talked to Rohit Chohan, Co-Founder & CEO, Truworth Wellness, to answer these questions and discuss more insights into the industry:  

Traditionally, organisations have designed health and benefits programs centered around hospitalisation and primary care, providing solutions to employees after issues arise. However, as the world of work evolves and employee expectations shift, how has the wellness landscape adapted?

We observe a growing culture that prioritises workforce healthcare and well-being. Employers recognise the necessity of investing in their workforce to enhance productivity and engagement. This focus on comprehensive wellness has spurred the next chapter of development in the Indian corporate wellness space.

Practically speaking, there is now a greater understanding of the distinction between 'care' and 'wellness,' the latter being a long-term approach. For many organisations, bundling these concepts under a single umbrella program that offers insurance is insufficient to address inherent employee wellness challenges. Essentially, companies are awakening to the idea that well-being demands a more comprehensive approach and requires immediate attention.

What are some of the major challenges organisations face when it comes to the administration of employee health benefits as it stands today – and what does the future hold?

The conventional approach to administering and implementing employee health benefits is disjointed. Besides hampering the user experience, this also creates a bottleneck as there is limited scope for personalisation, with most interventions becoming stand-alone events.

Whenever we onboard a new client, we usually work with them for a minimum of three to five years because implementing an outcomes-based approach that results in measurable, multi-faceted improvement takes time. Organisations need to understand that singular activities without pre-assessment and post-feedback support don’t work. Inculcating healthy behaviors, which is the ultimate goal of any wellness program, cannot happen in isolation but requires consistent support, guidance, and feedback.

Although disease management is crucial, shifting towards a prevention-first approach is critical. How does a preventive wellness model differ from the more traditional approach, and what are the key benefits it provides for organisations and their employees? 

Traditional employee wellness frameworks tend to be more transactional with utilisation and participation remaining suboptimal. More importantly, most solutions in this approach are remedial and are available once an issue is visible or diagnosed.

In contrast, a preventive wellness model follows a more holistic and outcome-based approach. It is an ongoing process that offers an integrated and personalized wellness experience, with well-thought-out incentives for people to utilise available services. Critically, the preventive approach doesn’t wait for a health issue to foster and impact individual wellness before intervening but proactively identifies potential issues and nips them in the bud. 

We follow a very structured approach that is rooted in timely detection and prevention of health issues. This approach has four main stages:

  • Assess: Perform a comprehensive health and wellness assessment of the entire workforce

  • Identify: Identify individuals or types of individuals that display deviations in their health assessment reports and decode the possible factors behind these issues

  • Coach: Provide personalised guidance and coaching to employees to make better health and lifestyle choices 

  • Manage: Offer ongoing and composite support structures to take care of physical, mental and emotional well-being

Today, employee wellness is becoming increasingly important for all HR leaders. What are some key trends you have seen in these sectors?  

Earlier, only large companies, particularly in IT and ITES sectors, used to concentrate on employee wellness solutions, encompassing primary and preventive care. Recently, there has been a substantial surge in demand from companies across various sectors. For instance, TATA Steel, a distinguished manufacturing company and one of our clients, places significant emphasis on integrated structured well-being programs.

With higher budgets and increased investments earmarked for employee well-being, HR leaders are now better equipped compared to the last decade to embrace holistic employee well-being programs. These programs are now considered a business imperative, ensuring workplace productivity and engagement. Therefore, companies are increasingly inclined to adopt an outcomes-based approach with long-term employee benefits, moving away from short-term stop-gap solutions with limited scope and uncertain futures. Given the augmented budgets and investments, there is also a heightened focus on effectively measuring the ROI of these programs.

As the preventive wellness model is a proactive approach, what types of data and metrics can be leveraged to measure the success and ROI of this model, and how do these measurements support a company's mission of promoting long-term health and well-being?

A composite wellness model that follows a preventive and proactive approach starts with a thorough assessment to help employers understand where their workforce currently stands. The next step is connecting people who require behavioral modifications to the right expert, service provider or coach to ensure continuous guidance and handholding. The final step is to provide preventive support by measuring the outcome and seeing the improvement both qualitatively and quantitatively.

This systematic approach gives several data touchpoints at all four process stages, such as diagnostic results, claims, engagement level, risk assessment level, and utilisation rate, that can help measure ROI. By providing employees with quality services, guiding them on their improvement journey and nudging them to take action, we build a circular approach that ensures higher participation, better utilisation of budgets, and easy measurement of qualitative and quantitative improvements.

Can you provide specific examples of the strategies or initiatives within the preventive wellness model that have shown the most significant impact on improving employee health and well-being while reducing healthcare costs for partner organisations?

Certainly. Let me talk about a significant case involving our partnership with a major client in the pharmaceutical industry. They were grappling with challenges, particularly a high claims rate, especially related to gastrointestinal issues.

Upon commencing our partnership, we identified that a substantial portion of these claims originated from the sales team. Through further assessment and analysis, it became apparent that the sales team, spending most of their day in the field, had developed poor dietary habits, often consuming unhealthy food without a fixed schedule or routine.

To address this, we implemented a short-term program tailored to the sales team. The program aimed to educate them on making better dietary decisions while on the road, emphasizing the possibility of choosing healthier eating options even when not consuming homemade food.

Within 18-24 months, there was a notable reduction in the number of claims related to gastrointestinal issues. This outcome indicates the success of our preventive wellness model in proactively addressing and mitigating health concerns before they escalated into more severe issues, ultimately contributing to improved employee health and well-being while concurrently reducing healthcare costs.

Could you elaborate on how you leveraged technology when creating Wellness Corner? What sets it apart from other solutions?

The Wellness Corner was launched in 2016 and is a mobile engagement platform for wellness programs and benefits fulfillment. This is one of the most comprehensive health and wellness experience platforms that help your employees achieve their wellness goals, enable healthy habits, provide consultation with wellness companies, and fulfill diverse health needs by combining services like doctor consultations, lab diagnostics and pharmacy. Wellness Corner is also integrated with various insurers for payor-driven out patient benefits programmes. In addition to trackers, assessments and consultations, the platform includes a rich library of curated wellness content in different formats as well. 

Today, we understand the challenges many companies face in managing diverse health and wellness benefits, leading to administrative complexities and fragmented care. That's why we are excited to introduce CarePass™,  a health membership product tailored specifically to address the primary and preventive care (OPD) needs of employees. CarePass™ offers a comprehensive suite of primary and OPD services, including doctor consultations, annual  health checks, Rx diagnostics, pharmacy, dental, and vision care, and more, delivered through the award-winning platform "The Wellness Corner."

Like any other industry, the corporate wellness space is also set to change dramatically with the availability of AI-driven solutions. Currently, we are seeing excellent utilisation of these technologies in proactively identifying potential health issues by combining demographic factors like age and lifestyle with data from different sources. 

Next, there is a lot of potential to use AI conversational tools as therapists and counselors that provide timely support to people who need it. One of the biggest challenges in the corporate mental health space right now is that employees only seek support when their symptoms become severe. If we provide people with tools that track moods regularly and offer support based on the cognitive behavioral therapy approach, we can help people rationalize their thoughts, become aware of their challenges and approach issues more meaningfully. 

Another important application of this technology is providing personalised coaching and guidance to people on nutrition and dietary plans, as the supply of talented professionals in this domain far outpaces the current demand. 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Leadership, #Interview

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