Article: How PepsiCo designed its employee wellness strategy

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How PepsiCo designed its employee wellness strategy

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This article outlines the business case, wellness philosophy and key initiatives that the company has initiated to help support employee wellness.
How PepsiCo designed its employee wellness strategy

PepsiCo traditionally has been a Cola-Soda Beverage Manufacturer. The brand ‘PepsiCo’ may not immediately conjure up images of health so much as sugar based soda. But over the past few years, PepsiCo’s portfolio has evolved to include Quaker Oatmeal, Aquafina, Gatorade, and Baked! Lays – the company has moved towards a balanced portfolio with a focus on nutrition. 

As the company increased its focus on nutrition, it became a business imperative for the company to offer employees the same experience that they were offering their customers. 

The goal for HR was to create a positive image and engage in activism to support a healthier lifestyle for its employees, who, in turn, will be able to extend this “healthy intention” to the customers.

The business case for wellness

The wellness programs in India were aimed at addressing clear business metrics:

In 2015, PepsiCo had gone through a large-scale transformation by selling a large part of its operations in India to its bottling partner – this transition resulted in an uncertainty among employees as to the future direction of the Business and its Operations in India

Employee engagement was at an all-time low, with attrition at over 35%. This had a direct impact on Employee Productivity – as employees were disengaged, and organization stability was getting impacted drastically. 

Secondly, low engagement and a stressful work environment were leading to high absenteeism which too had a ripple effect and it further lowered team morale and organization performance. 

At such high levels of attrition, business continuity itself was becoming a risk and tacit knowledge from the system was getting lost. The problem was more drastic in Operations and Sales – where experience is critical to success. 

While one alternate was to invest more resources in Compensation – essentially give higher rewards to curb attrition and drive higher engagement. This, however, was not an approach that the organization wanted to adopt on account of increasing pressures on the P&L. Secondly, PepsiCo strongly believes in driving a performance culture. 

In a time with muted business performance, incrementally rewarding people monetarily was not the correct messaging the company wanted to send. 

All this further reinforced our belief that a well-structured comprehensive wellness program will enable us to drive back engagement of employees and hence organization performance, among of course multiple other people initiatives that had been launched. The wellness philosophy

Healthy Living, PepsiCo’s well-being program is designed to help employees and families improve their physical, financial and emotional health. The program has 3 pillars to drive holistic wellbeing:

  1. Be well —these programs focus on helping employees get healthy, get moving, and be safe.

  2. Find Balance—these programs help employees manage stress, build resilience, and improve their financial well-being and work/life quality.

  3. Get Involved—these programs help foster community involvement and family and social connections, a critical component to well-being.

These pillars are integrated with the culture across multiple programs and help reinforce these intentions – flexible working arrangements, community outreach including foster homes, old age home visits, multiple fitness programs. etc.

Need-based wellness programs

Based on employee needs, perceived value and feedback, here are the top priority wellness programs 

  1. Maternity Care - Fully paid Maternity leave is available to all female Employees for a period of 6 months. Apart from the standard 6-month leave, employees can club any existing annual leave balance or utilize flexi-time policy during this period. Additionally,  MatCare4U was a special automated program that was designed to assist expecting mothers by providing them with customized weekly mailers on their medical, physical and psychological needs depending on their stage of pregnancy

  2. Community Service – In each location, there are multiple Community Outreach programs. Even the employees joining from the campus program go for a 1-day outreach program where they volunteer with local NGO's. There is even a 3-month app-based fitness program – Stepathon which links back to community service. For every 10000 steps walked by an Employee, PepsiCo Foundation donates 7 meals to the World Food Programme

  3. Sports Clubs – There are employee clubs for Cricket, Marathons etc. Additionally, sports events and competitions are organized across locations - table tennis, volleyball engaging over 1000+ employees

  4. Employee Assistance Program – PepsiCo has a fully paid Employee Assistance Program. The program has wellbeing resources hosted online as well as a ‘Toll-Free Helpline’ number. Largely, the focus is on personal well-being, family & relationships and financial well-being.

Preventive wellness: 

There are multiple programs that tackle preventive wellness

  1. Health Risk Assessment Program – All employees (approx. 2000 including 600 frontlines sales employees) are eligible for a Free Health Check-up administered at an empaneled hospital (4500+ hospitals across 100+ locations) and employees can choose the most convenient hospitals based on their location.

  2. Each year, health camps are held across locations (13 plants and 6 units covering 4000+ employees) to check BMI, Weight etc. and these results in a paper-based format are shared with employees

  3. Screening Programs - Mandatory annual medical tests are administered by empaneled hospitals in each of the 13 plants covering approx. 2000 frontline workmen. Compulsory tests include Blood – HB. TC,DC, ESR; Blood Glucose Fasting & PP; Urine Routine; E.C.G; P.F.T. – Spirometry; Audiometry

  4. Disease Prevention - Communication to employees for basic seasonal communicable diseases prevalent in India - Dengue, Malaria etc. is planned for September - October period when the spread of these diseases is at its highest. Sessions on Communicable diseases are locally held across 13 plants as well or are held over digital channels (Live Webcast/Skype). These cover all employees (4000+ including Full-Time Employees and workmen). Additionally, we ensure posters are put up to spread awareness around disease prevention.

Key challenges 

The top-most challenges are centered around improving communication and perception of the entire wellness program – while there are a lot of activations each year (almost 2 activations per unit/plant per month), employee re-call and hence perception needs to improve further

Another area of focus is to further push participation across the battery of programs administered across locations. 

Automation of Health Check-ups and Predictive analysis using Health Check reports is also one area that the organization wants to deep dive into, in order to have a personalized offering of wellness programs basis individual employee health risk profiles.

Future trends in wellness

From an employee’s perspective, adding a fun quotient to the initiatives by incorporating team formations, competitions, rewards, etc. will ensure greater participation.

From an organization’s perspective, each program is very thoroughly being assessed for its return on investment, given the pressures on cost. Does it align with our employee strategy? How will it add back to our culture? Will it impact my employee’s engagement and productivity positively? These are questions being asked by employers far more than they were earlier. 

This article is curated based on interview inputs to Jerry Moses.

Topics: Wellness Wins, Corporate Wellness Programs

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