Satish Kannan, Co-Founder & CEO of Medibuddy had an interesting story to tell in his keynote on Beyond Boundaries: Unlocking ROI for Infinite Potential through Employee Wellness & Performance at People Matters TechHR India 2023. Opening his insightful session by emphasising the importance of great talent and why organisations should protect them, he went on to do a comparison of businesses in the 1960s and 2020s.
Given that ROI was one of the critical topics he covered, Satish highlighted how human beings i.e. talent were central to the success of big companies back then and even now. But their competitive advantage varied. Back in the 60s, for successful enterprises such as Ford Motors and General Electric, it boiled down to licenses, land and factories but today businesses can attain great heights simply with a laptop, high-speed internet and great talent. This is evident in the power that companies like Google, Facebook and Titkok for instance hold today and is also a massive testament to the rate of accelerated disruption in the business landscape in the past 20 years.
Additionally, he pointed out another key trend. Earlier, the most powerful positions in any company were the CEO and CFO but the latest concept of G3 introduced by Ram Charan and senior leaders from McKinsey and Korn Ferry emphasised: “Elevating HR requires totally redefining the work content of the Chief Human Resources Officer—in essence, forging a new contract with this leader—and adopting a new mechanism we call the G3—a core group comprising the CEO, the CFO, and the CHRO.”
Undoubtedly, in today’s disruptive economy and the rising prominence of CHRO, talent is the greatest competitive advantage for organisations. But the burning question is how can we attract, retain and enable them to perform their greatest work? Satish came with powerful answers.
You cannot do without employee health and wellness
While compensation packages continue to reign top when it comes to retaining top talent, the second most important employee expectation has been employee health and wellness. Its prioritisation has definitely increased with the COVID-19 pandemic and organisations must gear up to design impactful health and wellness frameworks. But the challenge lies in understanding what wellness benefits your employees want which will vary especially in a multi-generational workforce.
For those in the age of 21-28 years, there tends to be a greater inclination towards fitness, nutrition and mental wellness. For those who fall in the 28-35 age bracket, given that this is a prime time to start a family, more emphasis is laid on reproductive health, paediatrics and vaccinations. For the 35-40 age bracket, the concern is usually around parental health while for those who are in their 40s or more than 50 years of age, medicines and management of chronic diseases are a priority.
Designing and investing in wellness solutions then calls for taking account of not only demographic data and medical information of a diverse workforce but also tapping into operational factors such as the industry and whether the organisation in question is hybrid or based in a big or small city. Accordingly, the benefits rolled out will differ.
The solution to this conundrum? A flexible wallet
Having worked with 1000 companies, 40 lakh employees and 1.2 crore lives under the corporate umbrella, Medibuddy understood that a flexible wallet fixes all the issues organisations face in rolling out wellness benefits. The main benefit of this policy is that the budget provided to employees or teams can remain the same but they will have the power to choose what wellness benefit is most suited to their needs. Given the rise of hybrid working, organisations must also ensure that this is a technology-enabled solution that gives employees equitable access to all health benefits.
To drive home this point, Satish also shared two case studies with the audience. In the first one, he spoke about a famous product software MNC with 20,000 employees across 6 offices. This highlights a geographical challenge as organisations need to create a consistent pan-India program inclusive of all wellness benefits.
What Medibuddy discovered through their Health Risk Assessment Test is that 98% of this company’s workforce suffered from Vitamin D deficiency and around 96% suffered from Vitamin B12 deficiency. The downside of this is a massive reduction in productivity and a negative impact on enthusiasm levels. By offering lab tests, doctor consultations and a flexible medicine budget, employees now had access to the right medication and over 6 months, a marked improvement in deficiencies was witnessed.
The other example was of an FMCG company with a large number of on-ground sales professionals. Their challenge was that during summers, there was a high incidence of viral fever and exhaustion resulting in a drop in sales productivity. What Medibuddy did was offer the organisation flu shots to reduce this incidence. Through these examples, Satish highlighted that companies can optimise their budget to offer the right solutions by looking at the job profiles and employee demographics.
How can we measure the ROI of these wellness solutions?
Yes, talent is critical, so is their well-being and finding the right solution to address their wellness is fundamental. But for HR leaders, putting numbers is imperative to making objective business decisions when choosing the right wellness solutions. Having studied the ROI facet over a considerable period of time, Medibuddy discovered an interesting formula.
Satish proposed that organisations must divide the full revenue by the total number of employees. Then this data on revenue per employee should be further divided by 365 days to know the revenue per employee per day. But why does this matter?
When an employee falls sick, it results in 3 days of productivity loss and this calculation highlights what organisations have to lose. It becomes essential to invest in not 3 days but rather 1 day of sick leave per employee when outlining the wellness budget. While the number often varies across businesses, if one’s health and wellness budget per employee comes to 10,000 rupees, then they are already in the right ballpark number. What comes next is to create very high utilisation and engagement.
But as essential as ROI may be, it’s also about making a difference and recognising the human life behind your talent. Citing examples of detecting a mild heart attack to stage 2 melanoma, the real value in investing in your people lies in saving and nurturing lives. To conclude, Satish insightfully shared, “You can start with the competitive advantage of talent and ROI but it all comes down to saving a life. When talent wins, the organisation wins."