With wellness of their employees becoming a priority for organizations globally, HR leaders need to have incredible foresight as they innovate and build upon strategies geared towards the wellness agenda. The key stakeholders have to be accounted for in framing these programs and the ROI have to be continuously looked into at great depth in order to re-work these frameworks and find success and enhance wellbeing holistically. In a recent interview with People Matters, Naresh Krishnaswamy, Growth and Marketing Head, cult.fit shares important insights on what makes a wellness culture, the benefits of tech-based solutions in this endeavour and how one can truly witness and deliver impact.
An alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and IIM Calcutta, Naresh joined Cult.fit in 2018 from Myntra where he was the Chief Revenue Officer in his last role. He spent 6 years there overseeing a 100x+ growth in Revenue and Customers. He brings expertise in growth, planning, digital marketing, customer retention, pricing, profitability, store merchandising, payments/partnerships, creative/graphics, growth products/tech and leadership/team management. Prior to Myntra, Naresh spent 2 years as an investment banker with UBS Investment Bank in the Equity Capital Markets division.
Here are some excerpts from the interview.
Q. In light of the significant transformation in the world of people and work, what are some of the rising trends in the domain of wellness that you have witnessed? Among these, what could be the key priorities for HR leaders going forward?
For the past 2 years we have been seeing that more and more consumers are aware of and actively pursue a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to healthcare, preventive solutions are more important, and we see them opting for a healthy lifestyle. We have also seen stigma around mental health reducing and consumers opting for therapy and consultations a lot more freely. Nutrition is another pillar of wellness that has seen great strides in acceptance, people are realizing physical fitness, mental wellness and nutrition are interconnected, this has resulted in a large demand for one-stop solutions.
Covid has accelerated the demand for overall health and wellness, and we are now living in the post-covid era where people have realized health issues are not to be taken lightly. HR leaders hold a key position in this health and wellness-oriented society, they have the capacity to influence and guide the Indian workforce to not just be more productive but also lead a healthy lifestyle that contributes to personal happiness and a sense of accomplishment.
Q. A wellness culture incorporates both physical fitness as well as mental resilience. What are some of the best practices that can be implemented by organizations seeking to build a sustaining holistic wellness culture?
Some of the best practices that I would emphasise upon: spread awareness by making employees aware of the health solutions available; motivate and encourage stakeholders to lead a more health and wellness-oriented lifestyle; and enable your people by accommodating employees’ health and wellness needs which is the need of the hour. A healthier employee base means everyone is more motivated to work and can be more productive. Having regular sessions with employees to discuss their health needs and addressing issues by giving sufficient time off, enabling therapy and consultation when needed is the baseline for a wellness culture.
Q. Following this question on partnerships, a wealth of digital solutions are now made available to aid the wellness agenda. What are some of the benefits that can accrue from the increased use of such tech-based solutions?
Tech-based solutions offer multiple benefits, some of which are:
- Enhanced Monitoring: Fitness devices let you track your fitness journey with a lot more accuracy
- Limitless Content: access to global health and wellness content where you can pick and choose your workout regimes
- Flexibility through Online Classes: It’s no longer necessary to go to a physical location, digital allows 1 on 1 sessions with a pool of trainers, group classes, etc within the convenience of your house.
- Connected healthcare: It’s pertinent that health information flows freely and securely so all minor major ailments can be discovered and treated.
Q. Given how the wellbeing agenda has become an essential part of building a positive employee experience, what are some of the challenges that are likely to come up in the implementation of such programs?
There are not many challenges in the implementation of such programs, I feel we have solved the barriers of not working from the office in the last 24 months. Wellness programs are now very flexible between physical and digital delivery. The only issue is creating the time and space for engaging in health and wellness activities which can be solved by corporates allowing for such a lifestyle, if the corporation is truly employee centric they will find a way to make this happen.
Q. Any investment including wellness demands that impact is delivered and witnessed. In other words, measuring the ROI of wellbeing programs is a must. What are some of the metrics by which organizations can measure the impact of their wellness initiatives?
Let us start by considering who are the major stakeholders in this. It is the Corporate, Wellness partner and the Employee.
All three have to work cohesively and in tandem to witness any impact. The corporate has to enable the wellness initiative, the partner has to deliver the program while being engaging and accommodating the diverse objective, the employee has to engage with the program by being motivated and active. This will yield upticks in engagement and productivity that can be measured by lesser spontaneous leaves, more productivity, reduced healthcare spending ETC, we often deploy a promoter score metric that captures the measurable KPIs and the non-measurable ones like employee satisfaction, engagement and awareness.
Q. Finally, what are some keywords of advice you would like to share with leaders venturing into the space of corporate wellness programs and building a wellbeing culture?
We live in an interconnected society, businesses are now global and interdependent like never before. This connected global economy has created a mandate for all stakeholders to have access to and engage with preventative wellness and health programs. The pillars to deploy and sustain these programs are:
- Keep yourself motivated. When the stakeholders are personally vested into a wellness lifestyle they realize how issues like time management and motivation need constant solutions.
- Health is extremely personal, in fact it might be the most personal thing there is! All people do not like the same exercise, some like walking, some like the gym. It's important you don’t make the employees conform to one wellness regime and allow them to pick up whatever they feel is best suited for them (your wellness partner should offer a diverse program that is super flexible).
- Make it fun because health doesn’t have to be a boring set of rules you HAVE to follow, this lifestyle has some of the most creative / engaging practitioners and some super exciting communities.
- Try and try again, like all good things in life health and wellness is not something you will crack from the get-go, fluctuating motivations and life priorities will always get in the way, it’s important to accommodate these in the program and allow for varying level of engagement
- Finally, it’s not an option! Health is by far the most important asset for anyone’s life. We need to appreciate and work towards the same.