The pandemic has awakened individuals and organisations to the importance of life and health. It has showered accolades on organisations who have kept the physical and mental well-being of employees first. A poll in a recent TRWC session suggested that one of the biggest business tensions is the retention of employees, and therein stems the question of employees’ health. The fact remains that preventive wellness caters to business continuity and sustainability. Here’s how.
Health and wellness as the core of business
The pandemic forced the loss of face-to-face human connection and human touch. Huge changes, from remote working to hybrid working directly impacted employees’ health and wellness. Covid impacted employees both physically and mentally, the physical impact being the fight against the virus and lowered immunity. Contingencies in friends and family due to death, disease and disability etc. created a mental impact. The huge mental impact also stemmed from the sudden shift from face-to-face offices to digital offices and having to deal with MS Teams, Zooms etc, unprepared work-from-home setups, pay-cuts or loss of bonuses, tough industry environments around layoffs, boundaryless working hours, and the fear of being irrelevant. After 18 months as employees return to work, there is a need for organisations to know their mental state and understand the fears employees may have around returning to the workplace.
Why Preventive healthcare is the key to success
Top-of-the-mind concerns for employers are retaining employees while ensuring innovation and profitable growth. The pandemic highlighted that preventive healthcare is critical to business success. Earlier too, regular health assessments by organizations have helped prevent ailments and improve productivity. But especially post the pandemic, HR teams and CHROs are looking at wellness from a wider spectrum- early detection of diseases, lowering of healthcare costs, making preventive healthcare affordable, lowering absenteeism, reduced presenteeism, higher employee retention, higher employee value proposition, breeds innovation and ROI, enhanced loyalty, and better goodwill.
“Healthy employees can work more and achieve more, and employer can give them the due for their contribution”, said Amol Maheshwari, Country Head - Sales and Account Management, MediBuddy.
Indeed, healthy employees are happy employees and engaged employees, who can add continued value. Hence, it is important to build a preventive wellness strategy for business continuity
How to design a Preventive Wellness Strategy for Business Continuity?
Designing a preventive wellness strategy involves detailed program planning centred on three important tenets Accessibility – Affordability – Agility. HR and wellness professionals must understand that one size does not fit all, and must follow an inside-out approach:
- Analyse industry trends
- Study internal organisational data to understand the business sense i.e. statistics such as mortality from health insurance or life insurance, attrition, absenteeism, etc.
- Analyse demographics of employees as per life stages and their different physical and mental attributes and needs
- Educate people about wellness programs at all levels to ensure success
- Incentivise health and wellness by showing people ‘what’s in it for them’
Some of the core elements of preventive care in office are occupational health units, on-demand healthcare through telehealth, health risk assessment, annual health screening, and lab tests, 24*7 doctors access, e-pharmacy access, vaccinations, nutrition and fitness sessions, emotional wellness sessions and incentive plans. Having a corporate-funded health insurance policy combined with personal negotiated plans that employees can buy and avail, combined with a wallet approach can ensure utilization of wellness programs.
Above all, it is important for a wellness leader to engage and communicate show people how they benefit in terms of quantitative and qualitative benefits. Some ways to do this are departmental league tables and games to create a buzz, messaging which links health to being progressive, and incentives around good health such as better perks and creating “healthy heroes” brands. This will create lasting pull for wellness initiatives, and put the onus of being healthy on the employee.
An effective and sustainable preventive wellness strategy can be driven by investing in the right partnerships. “We need to bring the best of plans to employees, which are well-designed and well-negotiated”, shares Amol.
More than logistics, wellness success is about communication and endorsement and must involve a 360 degrees communication plan curated to specific employee demographics.
The outcomes must be measured through healthcare analytics such as data and dashboards. Some of the success factors to measure are savings in insurer premiums, utilization being greater than the average industry benchmark, employee health and wellness surveys, employee NPS usage, lower attrition, lower absenteeism, CSAT scores on customer engagement and a culture of innovation. Continuous measurement and ongoing commitment at the CXO level is the key to unlocking a healthy, happy and productive workforce.