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Webcast: Using benefits to drive a culture of well-being

According to a recent report, more than 40 percent of employees said their work was being affected by health problems - a figure that's risen by a third over the last five years.

In this webcast - 'Using benefits to drive a culture of well-being' by People Matters and ekincare, Dr. Noel Coutinho, SVP Business Development - ekincare was the moderator. The panelists Sirish Kotipalli, Head - Leadership & Management Development, and Lionel Paul David, HR Head - OLAM GBS discussed how leaders can make a substantial difference in their employees' lives by including well-being principles in their company's engagement programs.

Corporate well-being concerns

A recent study revealed - even after organizations are spending so much money and effort towards building health and well-being programs for their employees, 62% of the employees actually feel that their existing healthcare programs need improvement. It would be a shocker to a lot of companies that focus on increasing healthcare expenses and still makes employees feel that their healthcare programs are not up to the mark. Possibly because even after covering a lot of hospitalization benefits, a lot of healthcare expenses are still out of pocket for the employees today. According to a study, an average Indian spends close to Rs. 9000 for their OPD charges or other hospital expenses, of which 60% is done for their family members.

Later on, Sirish shared the expectations and thoughts for the coming year as a lot of investment is coming in from the organizations to see how they can improve their existing health and well-being strategies for employees, with 3-4 health events happening in the organizations every month. He firmly believes that employee health has a direct impact on the way a company performs.

Outlook on health programs for different age group employees

Since organizations now have a lot of young people joining in who are full of energy and enthusiasm, it is equally important to take care of their health. Looking at the baby boomers, the focus remains on equally maintaining a balance between the physical health and mental well-being of all the employees. Various NGO-driven programs, parenting programs, relationship programs, etc. help in maintaining that consistent connection with the employees and understanding them better.

Defining the organization's well-being culture

Since employees these days are prioritizing their health, this is a hot topic among the HR Community too. Due importance is being given to energizing productivity, creating employee-centric designs, debugging presentism, including mental and emotional well-being programs, so there has been a collective exploration to find meaningful solutions.

Importance of leadership in employee well-being

Few organizations do have leaders leading from the front, while others are active sponsors. One such example is the TCS CEO, who himself used to run marathons and is now spilling it over to the entire organizational culture. Another such initiative was taken up by a company that came up with a Chief Fitness Officer. So, such trends show that the leaders also feel this is an important area for everyone from a strategy point of view. The question that now arises is - How many leaders are actually sitting with their team members and discussing the well-being programs? 

Employees taking ownership of the well-being initiatives

Taking certain well-being initiatives for the employees and recognizing them as the champions of the program, encourages them to come back to the HRs and give their suggestions too. So seeing that value contribution coming in from employees and taking ownership, it comes out to be a real success. Employees too can help increase the utilization rate through word of mouth as they have their own community or groups created within the organization that makes it easy for them to connect.  Also, self-directed initiatives do not sustain, so creating a community or environment for the same is important as these initiatives sustain only when tagged with high-energy employees and recognizing them for their effort at the end. 

Evidently, data has its own role to play. We can gather a huge amount of data from the healthcare interventions and events that take place in the lives of the employees. Once we have the data, it is possible to understand the health risks and create personalized healthcare journeys for all. 

Prachi Bharadwaj is an experienced Marketing Communications Executive with a demonstrated history of working in the health tech & higher education industries.