A holistic wellness approach will have to focus on the value of the investment, not just return on investment
Over 70 percent Indians consider managing their health a top priority in life. 57 percent feel that health and well-being initiatives offered by their employer encouraged them to live a healthier lifestyle. However, health and wellness as a component of rewards and recognition is still relatively new in India. With the increasing growth rate, expanding business operations and higher investments in employer brand, the scope for the wellness market to mature in the next five to ten years is high.
Benefits have largely been about insurance in India, there is growth in family insurance coverage and critical disease and disability insurance. Apart from these, companies today are focused on tackling work-life balance issues while emphasizing on the importance of healthy lifestyles. According to the 2014 Staying@work survey, stress was rated as the top lifestyle risk faced by Indian employees, and this was closely followed by physical inactivity and obesity. While most measures initiated by organizations have been ad-hoc, it is important for such reviews to be conducted more regularly.
Need for regular reviews
Employees with erratic lifestyles are a cost as well as productivity burden. Most organizations conduct health checkups or employee wellness drives on a piecemeal basis. There is a need for organizations to conduct quarterly or half-yearly reviews in order to reap the full benefits of their health initiatives while also prioritizing employee health and productivity. According to the “2015 India Benefit Trends Study” conducted by Towers Watson, 55 percent companies noted that they spend more than 25 percent of their ‘benefit spend’ on health. And about 30 percent of companies surveyed spent more than 20 percent of payroll on benefits alone. Regular health reviews would therefore enable companies to rationalize their costs while identifying areas where employees need care.
Our data at Truworth shows that the percent of overweight & stressed population is above 30 percent. And weight and pre-hypertension signal to ailments like diabetes, cardiac issues and renal issues. One major pitfall companies need to avoid while implementing a wellness program is using the “one-size fit all approach.” Wellness is a multifaceted and holistic issue, no two individuals will respond to a wellness program in the exact way.
Progressive companies are going beyond conventional wellness programs and are creating stress-free workplace environment. Companies are instituting structured wellness programs that cover health risk assessments, biometric screenings to web/mobile based tools and senior care. With the younger tech and social media savvy workforce taking over jobs, companies are also focused on promoting healthy lifestyle through coaching and education initiatives, while also engaging them through social media and gamification.
While traditional approaches to understanding effectiveness of wellness programs have involved calculating return on investment on the program, a more holistic wellness approach will have to focus on the value of the investment based on factors like employee morale, worksite productivity, employee absence, presenteeism and workplace safety, in addition to medical cost reduction. While gamification and socialization is likely to increase employee engagement, the provision of online counseling services using chat/query with experts including dieticians, counselors and doctors will help drive early stage health and emotional issues.
At Truworth, we are creating a new wellness platform that aims to directly improve the top-line and bottom-line of the company. In keeping with the adoption trends, we have also integrated Personalized Weight Loss and Disease Management and OPD visits through our network as a part of our unified wellness program. We are also focused on providing personalization and engagement through mobile apps and wearables.
Even as companies move from a simple and unstructured health program to a standard and structured approach, the goal would require spreading awareness about why a change in approach is required when it comes to employee health and wellness. Moreover, to boost engagement, employees need to feel that their company is taking adequate measures to keep them healthy. This would provide more stickiness to the organization and employees will be less likely to change companies.