Well-being is a holistic feeling of being positive about one’s life, feeling good about it and functioning well. It goes beyond wellness and includes favourable physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, psychological, social and financial health.
Employee well-being, especially since the pandemic, is not a choice for organisations but a basic requirement for achieving organisational well-being. Empirical evidence indicates employees who feel better, perform better. A study published by Forbes found that happy employees were 20% more productive than unhappy ones. It has been observed time and again that organisations with an employee-centric outlook tend to respond better to challenging times and the pandemic has reiterated the importance of being prepared for unforeseen future challenges.
It’s anybody’s guess that economies and organisations of a future that promises to be VUCA will be driven by a skilled workforce. Eight out of the ‘10 most in-demand skills for the next 10 years’ identified by Forbes, people-centric skills that are interwoven with employee well-being. Additionally, creativity and innovation will be key to organisations’ survival in future and these can emerge only when the workforce is in a positive state of being.
What organisations can do
The feeling of well-being at workplace is an outcome of a host of elements – organisation’s culture, quality of work, access to resources, relationships at work, working hours, compensation, benefits, medical benefits, workplace safety, psychological safety, feeling of being cared for, feeling of being appreciated / recognised etc. A thoughtfully crafted and heartfully implemented well-being strategy makes employees feel safe, productive, valued and belonged at workplace, thereby creating a positive work environment with high employee engagement and collaboration that helps organisations achieve their business goals in an effective and sustainable way.
At Vistara, consistent engagement with employees, encouraging a sense of responsibility, team spirit and ownership are fundamental to building camaraderie and nurturing a sense of belongingness, to cohesively achieve and celebrate business objectives. In a ‘routine & roster driven’ industry like ours, we encourage employees to take moments out to be with their loved ones for pleasure as well as in times of need. For last couple of years, we have credited the earned leaves in advance in employees’ leave balance so that they can plan their time-off in advance. Lifestyle rosters are a great assistance to pilots and cabin crew in planning their schedules as per their unique needs.
Although competitive compensation packages are vital to attracting and retaining talent, employees are increasingly looking beyond pay slips in making crucial career decisions. Accordingly, empathy and care for employees, regular communication, engaging them across all levels, effective people management practices, learning and skilling opportunities, career growth and supporting staff in the best ways possible, particularly during challenging times (such as the pandemic and other unforeseen events) are differentiating factors now and core to the EVP which organisations must seriously consider, if they do not already.
The Covid-19 pandemic was detrimental for industries across the globe with the travel and tourism sector being hit the hardest. Organisations that acknowledged significance of employee well-being came out successfully from this global crisis. In Vistara, though we had to take tough decisions of announcing judicious pay cuts, we also ensured that jobs of all our employees were protected. And simultaneously, we extended our outreach to employees and embraced them to provide whatever assistance needed by them or their families. Frequent employee connects, virtual engagements and regular leadership communications were all aimed to make the employees feel cared for. Later, when situation stabilised, the airline was the first in the industry to reinstate salaries. All this was not only widely appreciated by employees, but it further strengthened emotional connect between them and the organisation.
In a VUCA world, employees naturally may have different anxieties and insecurities about what’s happening and what the future has in store. Regular, transparent, and consistent communication can help calm down these anxieties and create comfort. It also creates a sense of community among employees, which is valuable in developing trust and building a strong bond between leaders and employees. Campaigns to remove insecurity among employees pay rich dividends and must be persevered with.
Well-being also includes humanely handling instances when things go wrong. Being a Tata group organisation, our Code-of-Conduct guides us when managing difficult instances of disciplinary issues, low performance, misconduct, etc. with ‘human decency’ ensuring that the individual’s self-worth is maintained.
Well-being of talent also includes regular skilling, complemented with ample growth opportunities. We have observed at Vistara, that career conversations create transparent pathways for employees in their professional growth and initiatives like annual L&D calendars help address their skilling needs. Additionally, Internal Job Postings enable employees to pursue different roles of their choice while organisation enjoys the advantage of retaining skilled employees. Such win-win arrangements help both employees as well as the organisation become future ready.
To have well-being get its due, it may be effective to replace employee engagement survey with ‘employee well-being’ surveys. It is worth exploring to make the Board, the CXO leadership and all people managers accountable for ‘wellness index’ (just the way they are for employee engagement scores today). Can we make HR agenda being derived from both the business goals and well-being goals? How about christening the CPO (Chief People Officer) as CWO (Chief Well-being officer)? Why not make ‘creating happy productive employees an organisation’s raison d’etre. It is time we understood that employee well-being is not just a means to an end, but an end in itself.