Article: How to design holistic, impactful & sustainable wellness programs

Corporate Wellness Programs

How to design holistic, impactful & sustainable wellness programs

Wellness is a larger team effort. It is about finding interactions with team members, partnerships with managers, and encouraging conversations with leaders.
How to design holistic, impactful & sustainable wellness programs

As a fitness-led preventive healthcare company, ( redefines fitness for both individuals and corporates, while maintaining diverse fitness needs. As a consumer-led tech-driven business, they have played a significant role during the pandemic, in shaping the construct of corporate well-being. 

Jayam Vora from ( shares, “Pre-Covid, wellness in India was in conversations, not much in action. However, pandemic has changed the consumer and corporate mindsets, and hence the need to create a meaningful solution to solve the need for from a sustainable standpoint.”. Here is how organizations can embark on the wellness bandwagon 

The wellness outlook changes

During the pandemic, different aspects of wellness came to the forefront: 

Product to Services: Today’s companies want to offer preventive healthcare to its employees as a goal-driven track to bring about meaningful change. This requires a services mindset to cater to multiple wellness avenues. 

Activation for success: Wellness requires a high-touch model that drives initial engagement and activation to kill the inertia and get people started. 

Creating Quantifiable and Meaningful Impact: Companies need to be able to quantify health goals for individual, departments and organisation, because wellness as a concept is still unproven in terms of ROI. Hence, starting with small-budget compact services, socializing these within the employee population, and showing impact in 6-12 months, is the way. 

Wellness is a journey that requires a holistic and long-term services approach. 

How to design a wellness program? 

Wellness starts with drafting a holistic wellbeing framework, as shared by Vandana Mukherji from Airbnb. They curated the pillars as physical, financial, mental, and social wellbeing, and within each, outlined three categories i.e. benefits, learning and events. A collaborative approach with a core group of leadership members will help drive overall wellbeing success. Most importantly, it must be based on the voice of the employee, and organizations can study market best practices and conduct surveys to draft the wellbeing charter. Here’s how:  

Bring a holistic lens: Pandemic has reinforced the need for mental wellness, but speaking about mental wellness is still taboo in India, hence bringing awareness about mental wellbeing was first step. Publicis Sapient started a Mental Wellbeing Ambassador program, wherein the leaders got trained by clinical psychologists, to allow people to reach out, speak and share anonymously in a pre-designated time-window. “We were able to engage at least two people per week, it was basis willingness wherein whoever wanted could participate, with no constraint of ‘position’. Gautam Chainani from JSW shares how their Employee Assistance Program was enabling employees to move from a fixed mindset of anxiety and depression to a growth mindset of learning, by talking and sharing. 

Give employees freedom of choice: Sriram Kunnathur, Publicis Sapient says, “We need to create opportunities for people to choose what they want and how they want it”. Jayam reiterates this by sharing that one-shoe-fits-all cannot work. “We have to offer options such as a weekly calendar with flexible inputs”. At DB Corp Ltd. mindful eating choices have been introduced. Neha Vadehra Arora shares how putting a calorie value as red and green has urged people to make right choices. 

Engage and enthuse: Events are a great way to encourage participation. Vandana Mukherji from Airbnb shares, “We onboarded vendors for mental, emotional, and social wellbeing, such as Art of Living, Yoga, meditation, diabetes awareness etc. We engage people by calendarizing and publishing it for people to choose from. Another engaging way is to gamify the wellness initiatives to add a fun factor. 

Curate custom-made wellness benefits: Disha Rambhiya, HDFC Sales shares how a gamification application which tracked employee health, steps, meals, etc. attracted on-the-go sales employees, leading to 500+ signups in the first month itself. “Mxplayer being a millennial heavy organization, focuses on adding options for employees’ health, the way they want it to be through flexibility-led service providers”, shares Ankita Singh.

Drive wellness top-down: CXOs must share and speak as role-models to drive the agenda. Creating cohorts in the form of leader-boards gets the competitive spirit going, according to Jayam. Using senior people as influencers helps create social acceptance. Praveen Gandhi from RPG shares how focused communication from top to bottom, from leadership to managers to team members was driven virtually. 

Quantify the impact: A great way to highlight ROI is to introduce virtual DIY assessments for employees to gain a ‘health score’, which can motivate. Vandana shares, “After we do a wellness event, we have a campaign monitor, to gauge how employees are feeling, and this is reviewed every quarter to modify as we go ahead”.

How to make wellness sustainable? 

A holistic, impactful and sustainable wellness program is one that is linked to the culture, vision, mission of the organization. Debasreeta from Dr. Reddys shares that wellness is linked to their purpose of ‘Good health can’t wait’. “Even before Covid, we launched a program called ‘My Health Index’ for employees and their families, We had gathered employee diagnostics from annual health check-up data and surveys, and categorized employees as High, Medium and Low Risk by assigning a MHI score. We then designed a bouquet of offerings allowing people from each category to choose”, shares Debasreeta. Creating brand ambassadors from the success stories helps drive a long-term wellness culture. A culture of wellness must be infused in the way people work and live, and hence a ground-connect is key. At DB Corp, listening campaigns are held every Wednesday to gather employee views on how to improvise on health. Another necessary aspect is to involve families. “Including families in discussions and programs is a must-have to push people to think and go beyond” quips Neha.

It is obvious that wellness is a larger team effort. It is about finding interactions with team members, partnerships with managers, and encouraging conversations with leaders. Sriram Kunnathur, Publicis Sapient shares, “We did not look at the ROI route, but at the purpose and outcomes facilitated as an organization”. To make this happen, wellness cannot be an HR agenda, it must be an overall strategy. 

“The next 1-2 years will be definitive in how wellness shapes the corporate culture. A high impact can be achieved if driven collectively and collaboratively, while defining and learning with each other from an India context, and getting it right through ROI”, shares Jayam.

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Topics: Corporate Wellness Programs, Benefits & Rewards, #PMTRWC

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