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Effectiveness Of Corporate Wellness Programs

Corporate Wellness Programs are said to help the employees with their productivity, physical and mental health. How effective those programs is to be analysed.

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An expectant mother at Deloitte said, she could speak anything to her counsellor, who had become a friend and confidante, at the workplace. Even after having the baby, the counsellor stayed in touch with her if she needed any help.

Like many companies, Deloitte runs a counselling facility for women professionals as a part of their employee wellness program. The counsellor does regular check-ins with expectant mothers on health and nutrition, anxiety/anticipation and coping with the altered lifestyle. S V Nathan, Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte India, “We also run an internal campaign on physical fitness called ‘Weight and Watch’.” He further adds, “We have put up weighing machines, a height indicator, and a body mass indicator chart in our office restrooms. A colleague was quite inspired and decide to get health, losing close to 20 kilos. Inspired, others joined too.”

Corporate Wellness of the employees has become one of the primary focus of the companies. Johnson & Johnson, which attributes ‘corporate wellness’ to be both its vision and mission, has implemented innovative initiatives like exercise reimbursement, life coaching, sleep management, stress management training, etc. Emrana Sheikh, Enterprise HR Head (India & South Asia) of Johnson & Johnson, says, “We firmly believe that corporate wellness has a cascading effect on the health of the business and ultimately the health of our customers and communities.”  

Such wellness programs are increasingly being used for the benefits of increased productivity, improved employee satisfaction, and decreased long term costs. Nathan said, “When I started my career over 30 years age, the kind of wellness programs we see now did not exist. Today millennials and GenZ will ask you upfront what you plan to do for their wellbeing.” Such is the demand for the Wellness Programs have come to be.

The contrary fact is because they are such a new concept, they are far from being a complete package. Nathan says, “I strongly feel the need for addressing mental wellbeing. We all work in high-stress situations and admitting mental stress may be seen as a sign of weakness.” This suggests a lot more research is needed in this field which would ask for many changes and innovations. Sheikh says, “We are looking at constant innovations to engage and empower our colleagues – be it through Energy Management Training, engaging employees and their families via personal digital health tools, etc.”

We have to also take note of the infrastructure and maintenance charges. “The investment in such programs depends upon the organization, their needs, and demand,” says Amol Naikawadi, MD at Indus Health Plus. He further adds, “As a practice, HR allocates a budget annually which turns out around 2500 to 3000 per individual.” At The Fuller Life, Employee Wellness Company working over 17 years and having clients over 15 companies like Accenture, Britannia, Dell, etc., the Wellness Program includes three things: Diagnose early; Increase awareness – across nutrition, rest, and exercise; fitness activities – yoga, Zumba, etc. Now depending upon the nature and variety of programs required the charges are incurred.

It is also not undeniable that there is a prevalent skepticism regarding how much of the corporate wellness programs are successful. Is it all worth the buck spent on every program? An official at The Fuller Life says, “Our customers do surveys after activities and these show increases in awareness, adoption and efficacy of the programs, which is the reason why our clients stay for long time.” Feedback from the employees is crucial for any progress to be made. Another part of the structure is who is being referenced for the development of different wellness programs. The official adds, “We work with the partners like hospitals, EAP providers, diagnostic centers, gyms, wellness providers and financial experts – aggregating from the best in the marketplace.” It is thus a question whether the wellness companies follow such systems for the development of their programs.

Macroscopically, how much of the wellness industry is going to establish itself in the Indian Market? Naikawadi says, “As per my observation, the wellness industry is growing at 13 per cent CAGR. The tax benefit of Rs 5000 available on preventive health check-ups will act as an incentivizing factor.” The progress in the field of wellness suggests that there is increased awareness about health and wellness, especially in corporate circles. “The corporate management, who is supporting the cause of wellness, can also bring down employees expenditure on healthcare insurance by preventive healthcare,” says Naikawadi. Sheikh says, “We want to continue enforcing the culture of health metrics and train more to lead healthier and fulfilling lives and hope that they cascade the positives further to their families and friends.”

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