When thinking of wellness, most people get a mental image of yoga, exercise, mindfulness and a host of other activities that can lead to a feeling of wellbeing. Additionally, more often than not, everyone unanimously agrees on the importance of wellness and health management in daily life. However, in practice, wellness is hardly ever a priority for most working professionals in the world. If there is anything to learn from recent events, it is that making health and wellness a priority is a must in an ever-changing, uncertain world. From governments to business leaders and HR managers, everyone had their worldview rocked by the health crisis of an unprecedented scale. In the midst of learning how to navigate these challenges, new patterns of management have emerged, and ideally, these patterns are here to stay.
As an HR leader, the various moving parts in the organisation, and also having the unique role of managing the work lives of the organisation's workforce often makes it difficult to focus on oneself. However, if the workforce is to be managed correctly, it is imperative that HR personnel take their own health just as seriously as those of their colleagues.
While managing the expectations of employees and the constantly uncertain nature of a workplace affected by a crisis, HR managers are more often than not prone to elevated levels of stress, emotional and mental distress, and also higher health risks. These issues can be mitigated only through the adoption of a company-wide wellness programme that puts the focus on individual members and also gives due importance to the various concerns brought about by uncertain circumstances. This can help alleviate the additional stress that plagues HR professionals over the health management and productivity of their teams.
While on the subject of wellness, it is important to note that employee engagement is directly linked to the health and wellbeing of the workforce. After all, if the people working in an organisation do not feel cared for, or have higher levels of concern over their wellbeing, how can they feel engaged with their work and organisation as a whole?
According to a report by Gallup, about 66% of employees do not feel engaged with their work and also report sub-optimal wellbeing. Of these workers, 52% are reportedly "thriving" when asked about their self-evaluated overall life satisfaction.
Additionally, 22% of employees report being engaged at work, but also seem to have sub-optimal wellbeing. Of this group, 65% are considered to be thriving, which is a significant boost over the previous group of employees.
However, when high engagement and high well-being combine, the resulting self-reported life evaluations are overwhelmingly positive. For this group of professionals (approximately 12% of the working population) 92% report themselves to be thriving in overall life satisfaction.
While setting up a healthcare plan is the most important part of managing wellness, the relevance of these programmes to employees’ lives is equally important given the current lifestyle changes and remote working environment.
Access - To make healthcare more accessible and reduce the avoidance of health checks, telemedicine and telehealth services may be included in the plan to help employees gain access to health facilities from the comfort of their home.
Cost Cover - To help ease workers’ minds in the midst of a pandemic, companies could offer to increase the healthcare cost coverage for employees and reduce costs for the patients themselves. This could come in the form of specialised plans for specific ailments or a general plan that is also flexible according to the changing needs of the workforce.
Mental well-being - While designing a holistic wellness plan, it’s imperative to also consider the mental aspects of wellness. Especially with remote work and added stresses of juggling between family life and work life at the same time, mental well-being cannot be ignored. Hence, a well-designed mental health support system may be included in the wellness plan for corporates of all shapes and sizes.
As we saw based on the statistics, the future of work points towards wellness, health and engagement as a three-legged stool - if one of these legs were to be disturbed, the delicate balance of corporate productivity would be at risk of collapsing. Armed with the knowledge of the past, it is time for a change in outlook from productivity, wellness and engagement as separate entities of a workplace, to viewing the three as a unified whole. Taking this approach will undoubtedly lead to lower stress, better health and optimal levels of productivity across the organisation.