Article: How to design a future-ready wellness strategy

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How to design a future-ready wellness strategy

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A People Matters – Sanofi Roundtable was held in Chennai on the topic “Design a future-ready wellness strategy - The missing piece of preventive healthcare”. Here’s a roundup of the conversations.
How to design a future-ready wellness strategy

“Only 38 percent of the Indian companies have a plan to tackle a disease outbreak of infectious diseases. And 65 percent of the companies said that don’t measure the benefits of their wellness program,” said Mrugesh Dholakia, Head- Bien-etre, Sanofi, who shared key insights from the research report on “Contemporary trends and challenges of workplace programs in India.”

“Wellness vendor management, ROI and lack of sustainable engagement rank high on the challenges in designing wellness program,” he added.

Cognizant’s wellness journey

The opening session was followed by a case study on “Organizational employee wellness journey” by Aravind Srinivasaraghavan, Senior Director - Rewards, Cognizant. Aravind highlighted the key factors that drive the effectiveness of the wellness program including: 1) Aligning wellness to the business strategy, 2) Ensuring a holistic approach – from wellness to wellbeing, 3) Having a clear approach – awareness, identifying success factors, and engage in behavior modifications 4) Identifying critical areas and 5) Measure and improve. 

“The first step in building an effective wellness strategy is to get the attention of the employees and encourage their participation,” Aravind said. Cognizant’s approach has been to create awareness about holistic health. This is followed by behavior modification the aim of which is to create a habit and enable lifestyle change.  

The company approached the need for holistic wellness by introducing two distinct streams – Fitness stream – to engage healthy life style habits and a Physical stream – to help the company check their regular health indicators. 

 “Apart from the conventional focus on the physical, emotional, social and spiritual dimensions, the company would also like to focus on aspirational pillars like occupational (careers, and jobs), intellectual (learning academies) and environment (home, community), which are emerging as new dimensions of wellness,” Aravind said. It is important to understand how one’s passion is serviced and to that goal, it is important to leverage CSR activities as well.

Preventive care at Caterpillar

Dr. K Sunderrajan, Medical Director (Asia Pacific), Caterpillar talked about the need to educate and adapt according to emerging health risk assessments. In a context where young employees are being diagnosed in pre-diabetic state, he spoke of the need to leverage data to run targeted programs. From vaccinations for preventable diseases to creating awareness of the risk potential of employees with hyper tension, pregnant mothers and diabetes, he addressed the need to use data analytics to drive successful outcomes.

Speaking about the approach at Caterpillar, he spoke about the various programs aligned to the physical, mental, financial and preventive aspects. Over a decade, the company introduced a free flu vaccination to the employees as part of it’s preventive care initiative. The drive was impactful. Using data on hospitalization, and pattern on diseases, the company was able to see a reduction of 16 percent in upper respiratory track infection and lower respiratory track hospitalization in diabetic patients. Apart from that, the company saw a 32 percent reduction in morbidity in CVD patients, and a 90 percent reduction is flu related respiratory hospitalization. Vaccinations further helped reduce complications of diseases like Dengue and Chikungunya and also reduced sickness absenteeism by 32 percent. 

“If companies track the productivity and performance of the employees, they will be able identify employees with symptoms of sickness” Sunderrajan said. 

Expert discussion

The session ended with a discussion among talent leaders about the various approaches and issues faced by corporates today. This session was moderated by Kavitha Harish, Director HR, Cognizant and Aarvind. 

Conversations during the open discussion spawned a number of ideas – right from how to encourage active participation, how to bring about structural and organizational design changes and how to handle emerging issues including mental health. “There are a combination of pull and push factors driving wellness programs. And initially there will be a lot of push from the employers” Kavitha said. 

Here are a few key takeaways:

“How we make employees feel within the organization will be key to addressing stress related issues” S.A Lakshminarayanan, DXC Technologies

“Not all programs work for everyone, we need to create programs geared at the young professionals and need to create separate ones for employees who are older” Usha Giridharan, Verizon

“Employee participation in wellness activities is sometimes dependent on the perception of their immediate managers and leaders. Once they are also actively involved in wellness activities, participation goes up” Raghvendra Tripathi, Ramco

“From an organization design perspective, we often have to ask ‘what needs to be addressed?’ How can we improve the psychological aspects and map it to wellness and performance? Hariram VM said. At TV Sundaram, some steps included moving 50 percent managers away from the shop floor or addressing parking issues.”

“Aligning performance management with wellness is the key way to boost participation in wellness programs” Sathappan G, Larsen and Toubro.

“You need to support employees cope with family situations because it can directly impact the individual at work” Roy Joseph, MRF

Topics: #Wellness Wins, Corporate Wellness Programs, Talent Management

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