Corporate Wellness Programs in India: Insights from Assocham
During the last decade, there has been a noticeable build-up of momentum towards a holistic state of well-being for employees. Organizations and employers have come to realize that a healthy, happy and stress-free workforce is more productive and valuable than an overworked workforce that puts its health on the line. Globally, organizations are deploying creative strategies and tools to ensure that employees have the means, and opportunity, to be the best they can. In India, however, if the results of a recent study are anything to go by, the thrust on corporate wellness is sporadic, and corporate wellness programs haven’t been able to help employees much.
An Assocham study that came out a few days back says that corporate wellness programs, if implemented effectively, can save India Inc. nearly $20 billion by the end of 2018, as a result of bringing down the rate of absenteeism by just 1%. It added that such programs would also help in managing chronic and lifestyle diseases of corporate employees. The paper titled, ‘Corporate Wellness Program: Benefits to Organisation and Economy,’ covered the industries of engineering, FMCG, Financial Services, IT/ITeS, Infrastructure, Market Research/KPO, Media and Real Estate during its analysis.
The following are the highlights of the study:
- For every rupee that is spent on employee wellness, employers get a saving of Rs.132.33 as savings on absenteeism costs, and Rs. 6.62 back as reduced health care costs.
- 83% of the respondents of the study are willing to contribute a percentage of their salary in company-sponsored wellness programs.
- In the IT/ITeS sector, 93% of the employees were of the view that a company-sponsored wellness program will motivate them, whereas the remaining 7% felt depressed about healthcare programs.
- Similarly, 60% in the media industry, 75% in FMCG, 84% in financial services, consider such programs to be motivating, whereas the remaining did not express any interest in participating in wellness programs.
- Employees belonging to the sectors of engineering, infrastructure, market research/KPO and real estate recorded a 100% approval of the view that wellness programs motivate them.
- The motivation to participate in a wellness program stems from a concern to lead a healthy life but is further accentuated if the company offers incentives to participate in the program. The numbers for both the factors vary greatly over different sectors though.
- Several top 500 Indian companies undertaking Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives offer healthcare programs and facilities in areas around their factories, yet 42% of them ignore the health of their employees.
- Despite the availability of preventive health care benefits, most of the respondents are unable to take advantage of the same. This is due to lack of awareness of the benefits or hesitation in asking for clarifications about them.
- 48% of the respondents stated that their company offers wellness programs, of which 62% are of the belief that the program needs improvement.
- Of the 52% who said that their organization offers no wellness program, 51% admitted that if in the future, their company does initiate a wellness program, they will participate in the same.
- Over three-fourths of the respondents (76%) deny that they can fall prey to heart diseases, cancer, diabetes or stroke.
The study provides unshakable and quantitative evidence of the glaring gaps which exist in the conception and implementation of corporate wellness programs in India. If over three- fourths of the respondents assume they are immune to lifestyle non-communicable diseases, the problem is rather deep-rooted. Furthermore, the responses show that wellness programs, if they exist at all, aren’t exactly working effectively. Be it lack of awareness or a desire for improvement, corporate wellness programs in India are yet to have their moment in the spotlight.
On the other side, the study also gives irrefutable evidence that emphasizes the criticality of such programs. Employers are likely to get a return of over a hundred times when they invest in the well-being of their employees, and if that is not motivation enough, chances are, nothing ever will be. The study is a fitting reminder for leaders and employers to accelerate, and build on the efforts that aim to provide Indian employees a holistic sense of well-being, or face a pressing problem of an inefficient, diseased and subpar workforce in the future.
You can access the entire study here.