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2022 has been a rollercoaster of a year. From a health and well-being perspective, everyone is trying to put their best foot forward. Keeping up with the changing demands of a health-conscious workforce is no easy task! The future is focused on holistic well-being, which covers all aspects of wellness - physical, mental, financial and social.
One area of holistic well-being that is gaining traction is "creating an ecosystem of OPD benefits and preventive healthcare" - which is a vast universe unto itself. The challenges for corporates start with geographical and industry-wise concerns, and then lead into challenges of adoption, implementation and governance to be able to suit the health needs of the relevant workforce.
Pragathi K. Achanta (Director HR, AT&T) shares his opinion:
Corporations used to have a simple approach to health and wellness in the workplace, often following the examples of their peers or competitors. They would consider employee feedback and market trends when determining the best approach. However, today, health and wellness has become a much higher priority in the evaluation of employee benefits and total rewards packages.
This is due in part to the growing importance of employer branding and the increasing expectations of job candidates. In order to take the next step, companies should focus on preventive health measures and use predictive analytics to anticipate and address potential health concerns before they become an issue. This approach is similar to the way that companies now use predictive analytics to minimize network downtime, and it can be applied to employee health as well.
Pratima Gupta (AVP HR, TM-HR Division, Huawei Technologies India) shares her insights:
The concept of total rewards package in today's world is becoming more employee-centric, and as technology evolves, the need for a balance between employee well-being and productivity is becoming increasingly important. Insurance alone is not enough to ensure good health, and there is a need for a mindset shift among employers and employees to focus on implementing healthy habits and addressing gaps in health and wellness strategies.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of employee wellness and inclusivity, and the need for a comprehensive, holistic, and integrated solution for employee health and wellness. Employers should aim to measure the health index of their employees before and after implementing such solutions, in order to see improvement in the long term. This has become a top priority for organizations.
Pragathi K. Achanta says:
The company has grappled in the past with low utilization rates for employee health checks, and we have tried various strategies to increase participation. We found that incorporating wellness goals into the business targets and goals for the year was effective, as it showed their employees that their health and wellness is important to the company and that they will be tracked against those goals.
Additionally, we found that making the process more convenient, such as through mobile apps and gamifying the process, helped to increase participation. We also noted that bundling different offerings and making it easy to see progress helped. I believe that a combination of multiple strategies is necessary to improve participation.
Pratima Gupta opines:
I agree that Pragathi's team has good strategies in place for employee health and wellness, but I must also note that there is a shift happening in the mindset of companies to prioritize employee well-being. We need to be more proactive in measuring the impact of health and wellness programs. I suggest that, instead of only measuring utilization and satisfaction rates, we should also focus on metrics such as average happiness and health index.
Organizations today should aim to have a more integrated and holistic approach to employee health, including financial well-being, and they should consider a personalized approach based on the diverse workforce they have. In my opinion, technology can help with predictive and analytical insights to aid employers in taking charge of employee health and reducing negative health events.
Pratima Gupta shares her insights:
I believe that despite companies implementing various health and wellness initiatives, they are not achieving the desired results. I attribute this to a lack of understanding and urgency around preventive measures and the lack of a mindset shift among employees. To change this, companies need to develop role models who prioritize holistic well-being and have strong leadership buy-in.
Additionally, companies should measure employee health, stress levels, and emotional well-being in their board meetings. Technology can help by providing data and insights on future health risks and by making it easy for employees to access and engage with health and wellness programs. I believe that for organizations to achieve a happy, healthy, and productive workforce, change needs to be initiated from all sides and vendors should make their programs seamless, scalable, simple, and easy to access.
Pragathi K. Achanta shares his thoughts:
I believe that the problem with low utilization rates of health checks in their industry is down to the mindset of employees, who prioritize their work over their wellness. I have found that making wellness a goal that is tracked and included in business targets, as well as making the process more convenient and accessible through mobile apps and gamifying it, has helped increase adoption.
It is important to have a culture within the company that prioritizes employee health and wellness and to allocate a budget towards activities that promote it, rather than harmful ones such as food buffets! There is a high percentage of sudden deaths among male employees between the ages of 32 and 42, which is likely due to the stress of their careers and sedentary lifestyle at that age.
Pratima Gupta says:
I believe that a change in culture is needed in order to prioritize health and wellness in the workplace. It's important to make health strategies a key part of the employee culture and to measure it not only at an organizational level, but also at a team level. I must stress the importance of measuring the impact of wellness programs and using data to show the value they bring to employees.
A multifaceted approach to wellness programs and a focus on preventive rather than corrective actions. Personalization is important in catering to different needs and preferences of employees. I also believe that a happy, productive, and engaged workforce can only be achieved through changes in habits, actions, and mindset, and that each person should take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
A strong culture of health and wellness should be prioritized in companies and this should be reflected in all aspects of the company, from engagement activities to pantries and meals offered. Companies can work with external vendors to conduct health and wellness audits and provide predictive screenings to identify potential health risks for employees.
This could be a powerful branding tool for companies, and such services should be made available as a workplace benefit for employees. There is a need for innovation in this area, particularly in managing the health of employees in multi-location places and across different generations.
Pragathi K Achanta says:
For a company to prioritize health and wellness, it should start by conducting an external health and wellness audit to gather information about what can be done and what resources are available. Small changes, such as labeling food items with calories, providing healthier options in the pantry, and improving hygiene in the workplace to show that the company is serious about employee health and wellness.
Rescheduling global calls to better align with circadian cycles, and branding the company as a place that focuses on the health and wellness of employees and their families can serve as an employee value proposition and attract top talent.
Pragathi K. Achanta's thoughts on the subject:
The most important thing for companies to focus on in terms of health and wellness for employees is to make sure that services are available to employees wherever they are located, whether it be in office, at home, or in different parts of the country. This can be achieved by consolidating vendors and offering more bundled services, and making sure that everything is accessible through mobile apps.
Additionally, it is important to have a reach that extends across the country, so that employees have access to services wherever they are located. The goal is to reduce the number of vendors, increase accessibility and make sure that the services offered are pan-india. Another priority is to show a reduction in claims ratio on insurance, and to focus on preventive measures rather than corrective actions to improve employee well-being.
The need of the hour is for companies to prioritize health and wellness in their employee culture and to reimagine their offerings in this area. It's a good idea to consolidate vendors and make their services available through mobile apps, with a focus on reaching employees regardless of location. Corporates could also reimagine traditional perks, such as festival gifts, to focus on promoting physical activity and wellness.
The current climate presents an opportunity to make changes in this area, as employees and employers have become more open to these types of offerings, and as service providers have expanded their offerings in this space.
Pratima Gupta's opinions on the topic:
The top priorities for leaders in 2023-2025 will include effective crisis management, focusing on employee experience, and developing the skills and mindset of leaders and managers to manage the future of work and new generation talent effectively. I agree with Pragathi's advice of consolidating vendors and providing services that can be accessed remotely, and using data to make informed decisions on cost-effective solutions for the organization.
That brings us to the end of the conversation, with many key takeaways to think about the need for agile and preventive health plans for companies across the world.