Article: Corporate Wellness in 2024: From transactional to transformational well-being programmes

Corporate Wellness Programs

Corporate Wellness in 2024: From transactional to transformational well-being programmes

In our recent roundtable with Truworth Wellness, HR leaders convened to dissect evolving workforce trends and unlock optimal strategies for effective employee wellness programmes.
Corporate Wellness in 2024: From transactional to transformational well-being programmes

As organisations increasingly recognise the paramount importance of employee well-being, the corporate wellness sector in India is undergoing a profound evolution towards outcome-driven objectives. This transformation, catalysed in part by the pandemic, is further propelled by technological innovations and evolving employee expectations, heralding a dynamic shift in the wellness landscape.

Traditionally, organisations have tailored health and benefits programs primarily around reactive measures, focusing on hospitalisation and primary care post-incident. However, as the nature of work undergoes a metamorphosis and employee expectations evolve, the wellness landscape adapts accordingly.

A burgeoning culture now prioritises holistic workforce well-being, with employers increasingly acknowledging the pivotal role of investing in their workforce to bolster productivity and engagement. This heightened emphasis on comprehensive wellness marks a pivotal juncture in the development of the Indian corporate wellness sphere.

In practical terms, there's a discernible shift in perspective, differentiating between 'care' and 'wellness,' with the latter embodying a proactive, long-term approach. Many organisations are awakening to the realisation that well-being necessitates a holistic strategy, transcending the limitations of traditional programs centred solely on insurance offerings. Corporate wellness now takes on a new meaning, and employers are offering services like OPD benefits, personalised nutritionists and in-house counselling to foster long-term behavioural changes in employees.

But what precisely are the underlying shifts shaping the future trajectory of corporate wellness trends? And how are industry leaders pioneering novel approaches to design corporate wellness programs that resonate with this evolving ethos? Moreover, what strategies are HR leaders deploying to navigate this paradigm shift towards an outcome-focused paradigm?

To find answers to these questions and understand how HR leaders can redesign traditional Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), we organised an insightful roundtable discussion in partnership with Truworth Wellness, a pioneer in corporate wellness. Over the past decade, Truworth Wellness has touched the lives of over a million employees by implementing a technology-driven preventative healthcare approach.

Dr. Advait Sharma, Chief Medical Officer at Truworth Wellness, gave the keynote address, and Sharayu Narayanan, Business Head at Truworth Wellness, moderated the discussions. The following are some key highlights from the event: 

Understanding the meaning of transformational well-being 

Dr. Advait Sharma set the context by decoding what it means to move from the traditional transaction-based employee well-being approach to a more transformational model that maximises health outcomes, individual goals and organisational ROI. Instead of addressing a health issue after its manifestation and diagnosis, looking at preventive care can integrate the segmented piecemeal healthcare model that most organisations follow.

This is particularly relevant in the post-COVID world as severe chronic health issues have become more common in young people. To mitigate this risk at an individual and organisational level, we must tackle the risk factors and focus on holistic outcomes that cater to a diverse population. Integrating primordial prevention and primary prevention factors alongside the traditional secondary and tertiary modes of prevention can make employee well-being more comprehensive. 

Furthermore, a transformational approach to well-being can make it easier for users to navigate the different facets of the system by seeking support as per their unique needs. Guiding, nudging and supporting employees in achieving holistic health outcomes becomes easier in an open and multimodal system, which increases access and utilisation. Additionally, gamifying and personalising the well-being experience, setting the right incentives and ensuring engagement at scale also becomes easier with a tech-driven integrated platform.

The future of healthcare will witness a surge in digital interactions within traditional patient care frameworks. However, amidst this digital revolution, maintaining a sense of personal connection is paramount, especially in the realm of corporate wellness. Customised guidance tailored to individual employee needs will play a pivotal role in fostering trust, a quality often lacking in contemporary healthcare programs. In the corporate wellness arena, establishing genuine connections and providing personalised support is integral to nurturing a culture of well-being and enhancing employee engagement and loyalty.

The modern employee wellness paradigm

Different facets of employee health go beyond physical well-being, including mental, social, nutritional, emotional and financial. In an era when organisations are trying to touch all aspects of employee well-being by supporting career development, extending benefits to family members and facilitating social impact initiatives, it’s vital to design wellness programmes that put the workforce at the centre of the conversation.

By understanding the needs of a segregated workforce, employers can help people feel recognised, attain work-life balance and get the right support from an expert without any stigma attached to it as anonymity will be maintained. While this can take the form of an expanded scope of leaves to include caregiving, bereavement, paternity, pet care, vacation or unforeseen emergencies, it also includes more traditional EAP elements like OPD access, customised insurance plans, curated health check-ups and round-the-clock counselling support. 

Structuring the wellness programme into physical, financial and wellness verticals can allow organisations to focus on each element adequately. Incorporating flexibility, personalisation and feedback for different interventions is also more effective with this approach, as it is easier to identify what’s working and what isn’t. For example, initiatives that allow everyone to step back without worrying about calls with clients or colleagues are important to allow people to truly disconnect from work while on leave.

As we talk about work-life balance, we also need to factor in that families are also no longer linear, so it’s important to incorporate non-linear structures in wellbeing programmes and extend the benefits to everyone in the employee’s domestic sphere. Building this safety net goes beyond recouping ROIs as it builds a sense of belonging for people which contributes to rising productivity and building a happy workforce. For instance, providing confidential and free counselling to all employees and their families or even programmes for women and new parents to help them easily adjust to their new roles. Combining purposeful and fun elements in employee well-being programmes will make it more appealing to a wider audience while increasing engagement and participation rates.

Managing wellness for a diverse workforce at multiple locations

Navigating the complexities of large organisations with a multi-generational workforce, spanning from Millennials and Gen Z to older adults, and operating across diverse locations including tier-1, tier-2 cities, and branch offices, poses unique challenges. Achieving standardised implementation across such diverse demographics and geographic locations can be particularly daunting. Therefore, the emphasis lies in crafting inclusive programs that cater to the varied needs and preferences of all employees, irrespective of age or location. This inclusive approach not only fosters a sense of belonging but also ensures that every member of the workforce feels valued and supported in their journey towards well-being.

Creating linkages in this scattered environment by bringing together people, their families and supervisors can be pivotal in building a shared culture of corporate well-being. Another approach is to structure the programme for maximum scalability and flexibility so that smaller and large teams can participate in it with equal interest. Similarly, accounting for safety, psychosocial well-being, employee experience and local culture can help leaders increase stickiness.

Simple on-spot fitness games for people and their family members, along with niche hobby clubs that allow people to stay connected and motivated. Holding periodic celebrations in different zones and giving people space to express their non-work talents has also proven to be very effective. Programmes for women employees which engage them right when they think of starting a family by providing them with the medical, psychological, and managerial support for the journey ahead.

Employee well-being and care must be an overtly conscious feature of the organisational culture. Coupling wellness programmes with employee benefits and fitness goals can help create an ecosystem wherein different well-being interventions work together. 

Tying it up to overall workplace performance will also yield positive results. As initiatives aligning well-being efforts with workplace performance become more prevalent, there will be a noticeable increase in employee engagement and interest in participating in programmes aimed at personal betterment. This integration not only benefits individuals but also contributes to a more productive and thriving work environment.

These benefits and privileges also come with responsibility and accountability, along with building a sense of purpose. For large organisations, having a central HR team implementing different programmes on the floor can be challenging. However, organisations increasingly recognise the importance of building an inclusive HR team which is inclusive of new positions such as Head of Rewards, Wellbeing Champion and so on. Additionally, building a massive team of volunteers embedded in different functions that drive these interventions, motivate others and increase engagement will be the key. At the end of the day, the aim is to build a culture of openness in the company while focusing on more human aspects of well-being and the value it generates.

Integrating preventative care as a means to bolster holistic corporate wellbeing

As technology helps us personalise healthcare programmes for all pillars of well-being, HR leaders must set their sights on going after the source of different health issues. Only through individualised value proposition combined with regular check-ups and expert guidance will people be able to reduce their health risks. Designing innovative and gamified interventions focusing on this stage of the employee journey will also make breaking the initial participation barrier easier, as there will be an explicit acknowledgement of a personal health goal shared among many people.

A preventative approach will also make it easier for people to access the resources and services when needed most while simultaneously nudging people to adopt healthier lifestyles. This approach also goes hand in hand with giving employees enhanced flexibility to work from different locations, times and branches to prioritise their needs first. Finally, a transformative model that measures the well-being of the workforce at regular intervals will make it easier to support people who are just starting to experience disruption due to a physical or mental health emergency.

Being willing to listen to employees is the bedrock of any successful programme, and this calls for conducting regular well-being surveys to assess where they need maximum support. It is also equally important for top business leaders to walk the talk and prioritise the well-being of themselves and their teams. Through town hall-like events, organisations can allow people to discuss what isn’t working for them and how the organisation can improve it. A simple CXO connect can reverse the decisions of several people ready to call it quits.

A key aspect of workplace wellness programmes is training managers and supervisors to be more cognizant of the needs of their team members is the first step toward preventative wellness. Empowering managers with tools to address their holistic health—both physical and emotional—fosters a deeper understanding and respect for similar needs within their teams. This transformative approach aims to cultivate a culture that places the power of self-care squarely in the hands of individuals while recognising and valuing the diverse self-care and well-being needs of all team members. It represents a shift beyond traditional notions of employee wellness, towards a more inclusive and comprehensive approach to nurturing well-being across the organisation. Managerial effectiveness is a key ingredient for organisations to be able to engage people, enhance productivity, ensure well-being and motivate employees.

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Topics: Corporate Wellness Programs, Culture, Strategic HR

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