The idea of employee wellness is not new. However, with employee well-being and business productivity sharing a close relationship, companies have often had workplace policies that helped employees address their well-being concerns.
Often such wellness programs were ad-hoc, isolated measures that provided employees financial help regarding health insurance and assistance programs that hoped to push employees to a healthier lifestyle. But ever since the pandemic, employee wellness has become front and centre of how companies shape their benefits programs. For many, taking a holistic approach to employee well-being was accelerated by the demands of the pandemic.
In 2022, companies are eager to leverage wellness programs as a critical differentiator in driving employee engagement, envision a more significant role of technology in driving engagement and demand more robust tools to measure impact. These were some of the chief findings of the People Matters and MediBuddy Wellness 360 Research study: A study of corporate wellness programs in India. Unveiled at the recently concluded People Matters EX Conference, the report is a benchmarking study on employee wellness. Reaching out to over 324 companies across 16 sectors in India to ascertain the state of wellness programs, the study presents a holistic picture of the employee wellness landscape.
Employee engagement is central
Factors such as a shift back to hybrid work from remote, the demand for personalised healthcare offerings, and growing awareness among employees to prioritise their well-being all reflect how companies view the role of wellness. One of the primary objectives of wellness programs remains to increase employee engagement. The Wellness 360 report revealed that for over 78% of companies, the primary goal of their wellness programs has been to increase employee engagement. Driving employee adoption and engagement was a significant challenge for their wellness programs by over 52% of companies.
Employee engagement remains a vital ask for companies across the board. This is reflected in the increased demand for gamified wellness technology, where 64% of companies demand better gamification to raise engagement rates.
"To raise adoption, wellness programs need to be user-centric," noted Kurian Parambi, Executive Director (HR), BPCL, interviewed as part of the Wellness 360 report. "They need to be designed keeping in mind the interests and needs of employees from various age groups and cultures. Right incentives for participation could bolster the adoption rate," he added.
The Wellness 360 report interviewed 10 HR leaders to understand the concerns better and reflect on actionable insights to improve the efficacy of wellness programs.
Investments remain an issue
While the rise of wellness programs has been pivotal in enabling employees to be more productive, the survey noted that over 67 % of respondents reported an average increase of spending on employee wellness being less than 50 %. At the same time, another 15 % said that investment levels had remained the same across the past three years. Additionally, for over 49 % of companies, the annual estimated budget for wellness programs per employee was less than Rs 15000, while 24 % reported not having a clear per employee budget allocation.
To address these needs, HR professionals demand better ways to assess the impact of their wellness programs and create a more significant buy-in. Measurability and tracking remained the second most important priority for choosing a wellness tech (45 %). When it comes to the future, companies state their topmost expectation is a platform that allows for better analytics and wellness tracking (70%), with the demand for more integrated dashboards which allow for real-time and in-depth reporting (69%) being a close second.
"Improving health and wellness takes time and sustained efforts," noted Ankit Gupta, Head of Engineering and Org Operations, Cult.fit. “There are no overnight improvements. Ideally, ROI should be measured over a long period, with the key factors being increased engagement and a boost in productivity," he added.
To take a better look at how the employee wellness landscape is poised to shape up in the coming year and to hear from top HR leaders on tools and tips to tackle wellness challenges, download a copy of the Wellness 360 Report today.