“What is life without energy?” it’s a question that is central to Schneider Electric’s business. The word ‘energy’ not only refers to the company’s products but also its employees. With close to 20,000 employees across 130 cities and towns in India, Schneider Electric is one of the largest employers in the energy sector. Although the company has had wellness programs as part of its benefits bouquet, “Wellbeing” as a strategic objective was introduced in the year 2015. It was one of the six pillars which also included high performance and leadership.
Wellbeing is not just about physical wellness, but also mental, social, and emotional wellness. Despite the fact that the company already had preventive health checkups, flexi medical insurance, and other insurance covers based on the employee lifecycle, the focus shifted to overall happiness.
A philosophy of wellbeing
The company held focus group discussions on ‘what would make people happy?’ There were a lot of elements that were discussed in the company’s context which involved asking questions such as – How flexible is the organization? What is the culture? What are the leadership practices? How do you balance energy across the four parameters?
The wellbeing philosophy is weaved around the value of ‘care’. A typical meeting would begin by asking colleagues “How are you feeling today?” and employees are encouraged to express their emotions – whether they are feeling happy, sad, excited or curious. The company also fostered a culture of recognition.
“Live well”, an initiative which is used to assess employee health. Using health risk assessments, employees could use reports to figure out what needs to be transformed in their lifestyle. A number of free camps (ex: eye, dental checkups) were organized across locations. There are also sessions led by doctors around topics related to cardiac health, cervical cancer, diabetes etc., With the help of a third party vendor, there are communications on health that are sent out periodically– especially for seasonal diseases like Malaria, influenza, Dengue etc.. The company started taking inputs from a quarterly health index covering varied topics. Yoga camps, Zumba classes were organized to help employees support a healthy lifestyle. Coaches were assigned to individual employees to help them achieve their personal health goals.
The social and emotional aspects
With a focus on driving meaning and purpose, the company is also focused on providing employees with the opportunity to give back to the society. Whether it is through contributing to government initiatives or aligning with NGOs. A recent initiative called ‘Wish Tree’ had a great response, where employees took on the responsibility to fulfill the wishes of orphan children.
Wellbeing Labs is an initiative with a bottoms-up approach, through which employees come together and experiment actions that enhance their Wellbeing. This leads to engagement and empowerment. The most impactful well-being labs are recognized every 6 months through global competition. Some of our wellbeing labs in India include: Employees kitchen garden, Cycling lab, Friday Breakfasts lab and more.
Employees need to be emotionally happy if they need to perform. The company offers one to one counseling through an Employee Assistance Program: “Saathi”, which extends powerful supportive services which include confidential counselling (on issues like parenting, mental health, marital issues and learning soft skills), assessments and referral services to employees and their dependents to manage their Mental and Emotional Wellbeing.
There’s a need to focus on programs that address the challenges on a modern nuclear family. Although companies are working on providing flexibility, there is a need to reflect on the support mechanisms that are needed especially for women joining the workforce.
- Funding programs is an area that companies need to reflect on. As the number of initiatives grow, identifying which programs can be offered on co-share and which ones need to be entirely sponsored, needs to be identified.
- In India, health is still not a top priority, and adoption of programs is dependent on how well employees understand an issue. It is therefore extremely individual dependent. There’s still a need for push through communications and time.
- As programs need to be executed across multiple locations, the administrative challenge arises too. At Schneider, the focus was on identifying virtual champions.
The company’s employee engagement score on Wellbeing, increased by 15% (65%to 80%) over the past two years, a key indicator of the impact created. WB has also been the highest driver movement in India. Health index (bio-metric parameter of employees), has shown significant improvement and 4 Employees were sponsored to participate in the Paris Marathon. To top it all, Schneider has been awarded the “Aon: Best Employer Award 2017” and Wellbeing was called out as a “key differentiator” externally.
The success of wellbeing in SEI has been a collective journey from co-design to co-implementation. It has been a shared undertaking and responsibility of the organization, leaders and employees and we plan to continue this momentum.
As told to Jerry Moses