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As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, employers are recognizing the importance of workplace wellness strategies to support the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of their employees. In the last two years, 80% of employers have expanded their wellness programs, and over half now offer mental health support services.
However, post COVID-19 pandemic, there is still much work to be done to address the changing healthcare landscape. This webinar talks about the latest trends and best practices for workplace wellness, including strategies for promoting healthy behaviors and improving employee engagement and productivity.
Sanjeev Sharan (Director HR, ZTE Telecom) shares his opinion :
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on wellness and organizations, which have become three pillars that are crucially important globally. COVID-19 has shifted from being a topic to a priority, particularly in terms of health and performance. Wellness and the organization's well-being are now key factors that impact people's lives, and discussions around them are frequent in organizations.
Santosh H D (Manager Employee Excellence, Syncron Software) shares his opinion:
In my opinion, I agree with what Sanjeev said about the increased importance of wellness after the pandemic. However, I believe that the biggest change is in the shift of how wellness is perceived by employees. Prior to the pandemic, not everyone was making a great effort towards wellness and there were other driving factors that took precedence. But now, post-pandemic, employees are looking for companies that prioritize their wellness and their families' well-being.
It's no longer just about the individual employee, but also their family because the pandemic has shown the impact it can have on families. Therefore, it's crucial for organizations to have a proper strategy for wellness that reaches every employee, regardless of their location. This means having a partner to deliver wellness benefits to even the remotest parts of the country. Annual health checks and H equity are no longer enough. Wellness needs to be a significant part of an organization's strategy.
Sanjeev Sharan says:
Healthcare benefits and wellness policies are important, but it's crucial for organizations to go beyond just offering benefits. The organization's top-down approach is what sets the message that healthcare is a priority, not just for business impact, but for the overall organization and its development. It's about catering to individual needs, not just providing facilities. Predictability is important for stability, and only organizations can cope with the uncertainty and look towards the future. This will govern the fate of the organization, and unpredictability is not something we should rely on.
Santosh H D says:
Many companies have already started focusing on wellness post-pandemic and have begun incorporating it into their overall people strategy. They have realized that providing good medical insurance is not enough and are now focusing on the physical and mental well-being of their employees. This includes having an annual calendar of events and identifying partners to help deliver wellness benefits.
I have noticed that many organizations are highlighting their wellness benefits when making job offers. Wellness should be budgeted for and implemented by a dedicated team, and should go beyond just physical and mental well-being to include coaching and social activities that improve the overall perception of an employee's well-being. Wellness should be a core focus of a company's overall people strategy.
Santosh H D continues:
I recently heard a classic example of how companies can show their focus on employee wellness. Last year, my company allowed all employees to work from anywhere as a pilot for a year. As the year progressed, some employees became concerned about what would happen in 2023 if they were asked to come back to the office after having relocated their families.
Our global management team made the decision to offer offices for employees who wanted to come in, but also allow those who wanted to continue working from home to do so. This decision showed that our company prioritizes the wellness of its employees by considering their needs and not forcing them to make difficult choices that could negatively impact their personal lives. It's important for the entire leadership team to buy into this idea of wellness and culture so that the strategies can be implemented smoothly with proper funding and support.
Deepika adds her thoughts:
I agree with this sentiment. When we called our employees back to the office after the third wave or even after the second wave subsided, there was a lot of resistance. This was because people had realized that it is possible to have a work-life balance. This was not just a notion that people talked about in meetings, but they had actually found the right balance between having a work life and personal life separately.
Sanjeev Sharan says:
One of the key learnings from our experience was that people's peace of mind and ease of life is crucial, especially during times of crisis. Initially, we focused on medical needs, but soon realized that mental well-being and mindset are equally important. It was a global event that impacted people across cultures, so a mindset change was necessary for all involved. We took on the responsibility of caring for each other as human beings and made it a habit to prioritize precaution and intervention. Overall, it was a positive experience that taught us the importance of balancing medical and mental needs in times of crisis.
Deepika adds her thoughts:
When we started calling employees back to the office, there were concerns raised about work-life balance. To address this, we made environmental changes in the office, such as adopting gyms and moving rigs, to accommodate employee needs. As leaders, we need to assess, create, and communicate the health needs of the team, starting with wellness programs. For example, in a dental company, we realized that people only go to the dentist when there's unbearable pain. This is not part of a regular wellness program, but we need to prioritize all aspects of our health, including financial and mental wellness.
Sanjeev Sharan says:
We actually started doing lots and lots of activities in the offices, like we had a competition globally. The objective back then was to make it more interesting for people to participate and the aim was to increase awareness about the importance of helping others. We have created a one-minute video promoting physical fitness which I regularly upload. I believe that organizations should implement checks to ensure that the money they contribute is used for the intended purpose, such as making electricity services more accessible and increasing security.
I also think that food, medical practices, and medical facilities should be integrated into building designs. While we haven't started doing it yet, medical services can be mixed in a field much like a microphone. A policy should be put in place to ensure that it is taken seriously and that any impacts are carefully considered. I think that small businesses need resources to address issues such as illegal immigration, and it's important to start with the basics.
Santosh H D says:
As an employer, I strongly believe that the productivity of my employees is directly related to how well I take care of their well-being. It is absolutely crucial to implement a focused approach towards physical and mental wellness to ensure that my employees are happy and healthy. However, I understand that some employees may be hesitant to use the benefits provided, such as health checkups, due to a lack of trust or understanding of the benefits. It is my responsibility to communicate the importance of wellness and build trust with my employees by ensuring that their information is kept confidential and that they understand the overall focus of the organization is on their physical and mental well-being.
To encourage employee participation, we have implemented a variety of activities such as fitness contests and wellness events to engage at least 30-40% of the organization. It is essential to track the impact of these benefits and strategies throughout the year and not just at the end of the year to make any necessary changes. Ultimately, my goal is to create a workplace where my employees feel cared for and supported, leading to their personal and professional success.
Santosh H D answers:
When I talk about wellness, I don't just mean physical illness. Your employees are your most valuable resource, and losing them means losing a lot of experience, knowledge, and expertise. That's why having wellness as part of your strategy should be a no-brainer. But sometimes there's a lot of inertia in the leadership, and great ideas coming from the organization don't get implemented. That's when you need a partner to help you. We are facilitators, but we need experts in the domain to conceptualize these strategies.
If you have a great idea, don't try to implement it on your own within the constraints of the organization. Work with a partner who is willing to go the extra mile to deliver the best benefits. Understand what is feasible for the organization, have clear budget numbers in mind, and be confident in the leader in what you are trying to do. Only then will it be successful, and employees will appreciate such an implementation.
Sanjeev Sharan shares his perspective:
The Internet is the most important thing that exists. If an organization does not have the best ideas and becomes too liberal, it is always a bad idea because consistency, standing, and continuity are probably the most important things. Without these, no organization or management will be totally committed, and employees will not have faith because consistency is not guaranteed.
Therefore, I think the role of technology should be to provide a dashboard that is seamless, easy to use, and accessible. The only thing that can be done is to ensure that the technology is driven by data and is supported by technology. Ultimately, technology will be the building that is impartial and does not have any emotions.
Santosh H D shares his thoughts
Technology is a very big driving factor here. That is the reason why you see a lot of organizations like ekincare coming into this domain by bringing in technology and merging that with wellness and how it can be delivered to people. To be able to deliver effectively and measure, you need data and technology. You need a constant partner with gathering data, analyzing data, and giving you real-time information. A lot of these things cannot be built in-house, so you need to use the right partner who has invested in coming up with a robust solution, which helps you with the data, with the strategy, understands your requirements and comes up with something that is customized to suit your organization.
This is why a lot of our professional leaders today are looking at tools and technology as a partner and as a support system to implement the business purposes. The emotional aspect, the rebuttal, is very justified as well because the data does not differentiate between anybody. It tells you what the fact is and you like it or not. If your numbers are not looking good, you cannot assume that you are healthy, which is very, very important. You need to be open to it, and the company needs to do the right thing. It's not just for the sake of providing a benefit. That's why I never said it's a benefit. We should probably project it as a benefit from a marketing perspective, but it is part of your strategy
Santosh H D shares:
Measuring productivity is a very tricky question. But if you have data over the one, four, four, five years that you sustained with the program and you keep improving that every year, probably in 3 to 5 years time frame and then definitely have some data points that will tell you that if you break them up, you can see the best contributors to the organization, but also the most healthy population. With that, your colleagues start seeing a difference in the way you're contributing. So my take on it is if you persist with a strategy for a couple of years beyond two years, you will start seeing data that will help you measure the impact. Well, this has had on productivity and performance of a group of individuals
Sanjeev Sharan adds on:
It's going to be a little too early to actually measure the impact of these initiatives. But I believe that there are certain areas to start with and actually measure that will help the management of the organization. Maybe we need to continue because ultimately, whatever initiatives you are bringing in, there is a cost. One of the things would be to look at the absenteeism or the participation of the employees in the wellness program. These activities will help you understand how many people have actually benefited from this program and how it has impacted their absenteeism due to illness or health. The comparative data will help in pushing it on and looking to see what is going on.
Another aspect to consider is the productivity which is linked to the employee's performance. And then after that performance, you can link it to the wellness program. Initially, we can focus on absenteeism, engagement, and participation of the employees. Managers can see the impact of the program on these factors and if it is working, then they can also conduct surveys to take a dipstick of the employees' feedback. But this is just the beginning, and there will be lots of other factors to look at. So, to answer the question, it's a huge task and these are just initial details that we can use, but there will be lots of other factors to consider.
That brings us to the end of the conversation, with many key takeaways to think about the need for Workplace wellness strategies for evolving workforces and companies across the world.
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