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Employees' Lack Of Physical Activity And Tobacco Use Top Concerns For Indian Employers

Tobacco use by employees is one of the top five lifestyle concerns of the companies for employees; stress

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The lack of employees’ physical activity and stress are the top lifestyle risk factors identified by employers in India, according to the India Health and Wellbeing Study by Willis Towers Watson, the leading global advisory company. The other top concerns were obesity, followed by poor financial wellbeing and tobacco use.

Combating employee stress appears to be a key focus area for employers in India. An 80 percent majority of the organisations have taken at least one action to manage employee stress and mental health in 2018 and 89 percent selected “identify and manage stress and behavioural health issues across the workforce” as a top priority.

Furthermore, 66 percent employers have already developed or are developing stress or mental health strategy for their employees and an additional 17 percent are considering it for 2021. The key steps already taken by organisations to manage employee stress and mental health include providing flexible working options, followed by offering onsite stress management interventions, promoting the employee assistance programmes; offering stress management and resilience training and employee education and training. 

Steps organisations have taken to manage employee stress and mental health:


Offered in 2018

Planning for 2019

Considering for 2020 or 2021

Provide flexible working options 

68%

8%

9%

Offer onsite stress management interventions

46%

18%

18%

Promote the EAP 

40%

18%

15%

Offer stress management and resilience training

38%

29%

18%

Offer employee education and training

38%

27%

19%

Offer manager training and coaching to line managers and senior executives 

33%

27%

21%

Develop stress or mental health strategy/action plan

29%

37%

17%

Calibrate jobs to enhance employee control, autonomy in making decisions

26%

21%

19%

Have guidelines for email/voicemail blackout times

21%

21%

14%

Use risk assessments/stress audits

9%

29%

27%

Offer programmes to support chronic behavioural health conditions

8%

29%

30%


Sudesh Shetty, Head of Health & Benefits, Willis Towers Watson explains, “Stress has a direct link to workplace performance and productivity. While some employers in India have already taken steps to develop stress or mental health strategy, more focussed effort is required to identify the specific reasons of stress and design interventions aimed at addressing them and improving the emotional and mental health of employees. Almost 60 percent of companies do not use data/matrix to measure the stress of the workforce and the leading causes, and that surely is an area of improvement”.

Rohit Jain, Head of India, Willis Towers Watson, says, “It is immensely encouraging to observe this increased focus on employee health and wellness. However, to translate this into all-round wellbeing, enhanced productivity and ultimately improved financial performance, companies must develop a coherent and holistic health and wellness strategy encompassing all four aspects – physical, emotional, financial, and family.”

Tobacco use was identified as one of the top five lifestyle concerns by 25 percent of the companies, only 8 percent currently offer tobacco cessation programmes, and an additional 15 percent are considering to follow suit in 2021. 



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