The last few years have pushed an ever-growing number of companies to look at offering integrated wellness programs that address the multi-faceted needs of employees.
The demand for holistic employee wellness programs has never been greater - from the rising concern among companies to address their employees' mental health and burnout issues to providing them with real-time, personalised telemedical services. This means building a wellness program that addresses the different components like employees' physical, emotional, mental, and financial well-being. It also means creating a culture where various stakeholders invest in employee wellness.
In an exclusive LinkedInLive session, Kathleen O'Driscoll, Vice President - Global Benefits, Wellbeing and HR Policy, Cognizant and Manoj Balaji, Senior Vice President & Business Head, MediBuddy, spoke about the significant shifts that are changing the landscape of wellness.
The shift in wellness
"The pandemic has significantly pushed awareness, adoption of wellness programs. Digital adoption of healthcare in India was previously not as widespread. But over the last two years, anything that can be digitally delivered has taken precedence," Manoj said.
Key workplace trends, including the rise of remote work, mental health, and burnout issues, are likely to shape the strategy on wellness in a new, hybrid world of work.
"Flexibility, authenticity and a long sought-after balance at a time when life truly integrated with work have shaped our understanding of wellness. It is no longer an option. It is a human and business imperative," Kathleen noted.
Ensure alignment and address diverse needs
"The approach to holistic wellness needs to have breadth and depth; it needs to be scalable and nuanced. More importantly, it needs to be aligned with the business strategy, culture and values. Otherwise, it's unlikely to have traction and longevity," Kathleen noted.
Companies need to ensure that the programs address local needs – "otherwise it will not have the stickiness needed to drive these initiatives. To meet a wide spectrum of people, you need to have flexibility in terms of the varied offerings on wellness," she added.
And in the process of coming up with programs, companies need to ensure that they are meeting the diverse needs of employees. That means interacting with different stakeholders, including employees, leaders, and clients, to help them better understand the programs' feedback and impact.
Think long term and focus on habits
"Health and wellness from an individual's perspective are about habit formation," Manoj reminded the audience. "And to that extent, it needs to be thought about as a multi-pronged, multi-year strategy. So, the key question to ask is: How are you impacting the individual's health over a long period."
The multi-pronged approach must focus on building inclusivity in the strategy. Companies also need to think about wellness goals and offer programs that may entice employees. It could mean fitness goals, preventive healthcare checks, mental health and well-being. "Use data on utilisation and analytics to build more meaningful programs," Manoj said.
Use technology to boost access, engagement and rewards
Technology can play a key role in enabling the discovery and access to wellness services. It can also play a crucial role in driving engagement by unlocking rewards and other incentives to help employees stay fit and healthy. However, employees are unlikely to use multiple platforms and applications simultaneously.
"We need to create a call to action and align programs on the same platform," Manoj said. When you tie health programs to benefits and help address specific healthcare needs that the employee is focused on, employees are more likely to engage and take responsibility for their own wellness goals actively.
Ensuring the success of wellness programs is a continuous process, and often, the impact is only in the long term. Companies should remember that communication is a critical enabler to ensuring wellness adoption. Companies should focus on building a multi-pronged approach so that employees hear the message on wellness across multiple touchpoints. Managers also play a crucial role in ensuring the success of modelling the right workplace behaviours. But in the end, it's not just restricted to one stakeholder. Wellness needs to be a business imperative that the individual, the team, leadership and HR jointly address.