Why Investing in Employee Wellness Initiatives is not just a checklist anymore

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Why Investing in Employee Wellness Initiatives is not just a checklist anymore

For total wellness of employees their mental wellness should be among the top priorities with other health benefits that companies provide. A stressful mind can develop diabetes, hypertension, a bad heart and many other unwellness.

Workplace wellness has been a subject constantly calling for attention with increasing work pressure, burnouts, fatigue in employees resulting in declining efficiency. 

Covid 19 has escalated it by such a proportion where companies — small to big — are employing all possible methods to battle it.  Companies have ramped up their existing mental wellness initiatives. The ones that didn’t have any employee wellness plan before have introduced it now. 

All the big corporate mainstreams like Google, Microsoft, TCS, etc. have already been on top of this game for a long time. 

  • Google’s comprehensive Employee Wellness Initiatives include physician, chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage services, among others.
  • Microsoft conducts health checkup events for its employees and their families that covers heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and mammograms.
  • TCS’s employee wellness initiative – Maitree that started in 2005 to counsel its employees branched out as “Radio Maitree” in 2020 to reach out to the employees and their families to support them by delivering them their favorite songs and letting them share personal stories to stay involved despite the isolation in lockdown. 

How Employee Mental Wellness Initiative affects employee productivity

Lancet study, which tracked electronic health records of nearly 2.4 lakh Covid patients mostly from the US, said anxiety was the most common post-Covid ailment that affected 17% of the survivors, followed by mood disorders (14%). A small percentage suffered brain hemorrhage and dementia, especially among patients who suffered severe Covid infections.

A stressful mind stunts employee development. According to an article published in The Economic Times,  following are a few reports on the mental health condition and its effects on employee productivity, companies, and the economy across the globe: 

1. 42.5% of the employees in the private sector of corporate India suffer from depression or anxiety disorder. Studies indicate that two-thirds of people who have suffered from depression face prejudice at work or while applying for new jobs. 

2. The World Health Organization estimated that India will suffer economic loss amounting to a staggering 1.03 trillion dollars from mental health conditions between  2012 and 2030

3. A study conducted by mental health charity in the UK showed that mental health conditions are the second biggest cause of absences in work and result in the loss of 15.4 million work days annually in the UK. 

4. Recent research in the international retail sector suggests that one in every ten work hours is lost to unplanned time-off. The estimated cost to the global economy due to depression and anxiety is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

All these and more go to show that employee wellness initiative is one of the pillars that put up the structure of employee development.

Why should you consider integrating employee wellness initiatives into your company benefits program alongside other health benefits

“You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business.” -Zig Ziglar

Companies cannot function without their employees. They know it and therefore they implement several programs and packages like, incentives, insurance, etc. for employee benefit which in turn benefit the company. 

A Harvard Business Review article published in 2010 revealed that comprehensive strategically designed investment in wellness programs for employees’ social, mental, and physical health has cumulatively saved Johnson & Johnson $250 million on health care costs for over a decade. The percentage of employees who smoke has dropped by more than two-third. The number of employees with high blood pressure or those who are physically inactive also has declined — by more than half.

It’s time we treated workers as people and not just profit generating machines. A  Gartner article establishes the difference between the old conventional Employee Value Proposition that companies implement and the new one that they should —

  • Company EVP must adopt a view towards employees as people, not just workers. They must facilitate them with outstanding life, not just work, experience. They must focus on the feelings, not just features corresponding to their needs. The Old EVP falls short to fulfill these necessities. 
  • Organizations spend $ 2,500 per employee EVP from upskilling workers to keep up with emerging digital skills to offering pet insurance which are not yielding the expected benefits.Employee engagement hasn’t improved tangibly since 2016.
  • Recent Gartner research of 5,000 employees and 85 HR leader interviews on EVP practices, challenges, and solutions reveals: 
  1. Only 23% of HR leaders believe most employees will continue working in their current organization after the pandemic ends.
  2.  Only 31% of HR leaders think their employees are satisfied with the EVP.
  3.  And 65% of candidates report they have actually discontinued a  hiring   process due to an unattractive EVP.
  • Whereas, the new EVP follows through the human deal by perceiving emotional value in employment in the organization by enabling them to feel more understood, autonomous, invested, cared for and valued.
  • The new more human EVP can be built by focusing on building deeper connections with employees, allowing them radical flexibility, creating personal goal opportunities for them, ensuring their holistic wellbeing, and taking action on shared purpose.  

Dr. Steven Aldana, USA’s one of the foremost experts on healthy living and worksite wellness, and CEO of WellSteps, shares in his blog,

 â€śPoor employee productivity can be defined as physically being at work but not working.  This type of poor productivity is called presenteeism. It is estimated that the cost associated with presenteeism due to poor employee health is at least 2 to 3 times greater than direct health care expenses. Thankfully, wellness programs can help increase employee productivity.”

“If your workplace hasn’t yet invested in the workplace wellness program, then it’s time to get things going”, says the multi-hyphenate Joyce Odidison,  president of Interpersonal Wellness Services Inc. Joyce goes on to list the key reasons for this.

  1. Covid 19 forced us to adapt to a completely different lifestyle without no time and warning. Having to work completely from outside the office, online, learning new technologies and trying to adjust to them as quickly as possible requires fast pace learning.  Healthy employees learn faster and retain more of what they’ve been taught allowing for transfer of learning in the workplace faster and more accurately.
  1. Healthy employees boost Employee Engagement and derive greater participation, commitment, better service and customer satisfaction, which will result in referrals and repeat business that will boost sales and boost the bottom line.
  1. Happy healthy satisfied employees are more positive and confident which reflect on their performance. They will appreciate the company treating them like valued assets rather than just numbers on spreadsheets. No stressed out cranky employees, no unsatisfied customers.
  2.  A healthy body and calm clear mind can boost innovative ideas. It can attend to all challenges and needs of the company with a higher level of focus.
  3. Given the changing economic state, companies will need top talents to break through the competition and lead. An effective robust employee wellness programme will prove advantageous in the race to attract the best talents in the companies. The talents will want to work in an environment that optimises their efficiency. 
  4. Healthy body and mind bring about strong immunity. So more capable a company’s employee wellness programme, fewer sick time off work, fewer doctor’s visits, fewer health insurance claims, lesser chance of major illness on encountering covid. 
  5.  Working in a healthy workplace amplifies the resilience in employees as they feel like belonging to a part of a family in the workplace that cares about them. This way they get emotionally more strong to take up future challenges. 

Small to medium size companies too are gradually adopting employee wellness initiatives in their workplace.  Some are forced by the current situation, some have been aware even without a pandemic that a company’s workforce needs to be thinking lucidly to generate profit for the company. 

The companies that are still contemplating adopting employee wellness initiatives into their employee benefit programs need to hop on without losing time and choose something effective and proactive unlike the toll free numbers which are as good as speaking to the walls and expecting answers.  

Among the creative, cool, and caring employee wellness initiatives, a lot of companies have found something called an AI based chatbot. 

This adorable buddy-bot is finding its way to becoming the next big thing in the workplace and personal wellness slot with its daily reminder for you to take your meds daily, workout regularly, tracking your healthy habits and prompting you to improve them to make you healthy and happy.

Though it is everyone’s wise and cool buddy, for introverted people like me it’s somewhat of a godsend tech-made knight in shining armor. If I ever have to talk to anyone about my stress and anxiety to get a recommendation for a  mental health professional I’ll rather dig myself into a whole to never come out. 

AI buddies are also helpful for those employees who don’t have time to notice if they need a friendly intervention as to their mental or physical wellness in everyday life. 

All work and no care to employee wellness can make the whole company workplace downcast. If you don’t know how to help your employees, ask for some assistance. Many companies are employing other companies with expertise in professional employee wellness initiatives. 

If you are planning to introduce an effective employee mental wellness program to your workplace and looking for assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out. Monami is a company with trained professional counselors always at the ready to help you with your employee wellbeing.