Occupational health has long been a point of debate in corporate circles that are focused on mental and physical health. Making wellness a priority at the workplace creates a good culture, considering that employees spend up to 60 per cent of their waking hours at work. For employers, a wellness program can reap a bouquet of benefits, including reduced healthcare costs, lower insurance premium, lesser absenteeism and better employee productivity. There is evidence to conclude that employees in companies that have focus on wellness are likely to foster a productive workforce.
Constituents of employee wellbeing comprise: physical, mental, emotional, financial. All these issues get accentuated at workplace. YouGov conducted a survey of 3000 working people in the UK. The single most important factor that 60 per cent respondents said impacted their mental health was work related stress. While 53 per cent were open to speaking about the issues, a significant percentage of those interviewed were afraid of serious repercussions. Surprisingly, in the sample about 15 per cent believed they will be targeted with dismissal, demotion or disciplinary action if they revealed any mental health issues.
Probably one of the most ignored aspects of wellness is financial which affects mental health. Those corporations that integrate wellness programs into their employee benefit repertoire, conduct programs for short-term and long-term results, some of which include financial education, lifestyle changes, stress reduction and mental wellness will have a better retention rate.
Mental wellness equals employee wellbeing
While physical health has formed the foundation for employee welfare for decades, employees’ mental wellness is now being recognized as an equally important parameter at the workplace. It is a total of raising awareness combined with special initiatives that help promote mental wellbeing for employees and consequently their families. Such initiatives include a whole spectrum of activities, like health education classes, counselling sessions, and financial advisory programs that promote mental wellness too. All this leads to a holistic approach in ensuring an employee’s wellbeing.
Merits of wellness programs
While wellness programs have proven to augment employee satisfaction and morale, their success essentially pivots on engagement levels. Higher the engagement, increased likelihood that the program will result in change. Many companies incentivise employees for partaking in wellness programs or achieving health milestones. For example, first time parents- to- be are put through a program on ‘Steps to welcome your baby and nurture the new family member’. Similarly, financial wellness as an important component in an individual’s mental wellbeing can be addressed through ‘Tips to balance cash flow while investing’ and so on. Some of the merit of wellness programs can be enumerated as:
Good health can result in more active waking hours, better mental agility and an enhanced ability to work smart. It can also lead to fewer illnesses, and in turn, less medical leave. Historically, healthier employees have demonstrated higher productivity, equating to better company performance and saved costs.
Reduced healthcare costs
Healthcare costs in a company can be minimized with reduced absenteeism. Those employees who are prone to risk factors like excess weight, smoking and alcohol consumption tend towards hypertension and diabetes, among other medical conditions. These employees then become expensive to insure, so curbing such conditions at the outset can lead to a reduced outlay in the long run.
Better health can translate to lower absenteeism, because healthy employees are less likely to opt for medical leave to care for themselves or family members. The more productive days a company can get, the more likely they are to outperform previous year’s records.
Better employee morale
A workplace that is committed to employee wellbeing not only cultivates high morale amongst its employees, it is more likely to be perceived more likely to be perceived as a desirable employer, boosting brand equity and attracting the best talent. A commitment to employee health can also strengthen morale and reduce attrition.
Maintaining wellness at workplace
Apart from increased awareness among employers, employee wellness has been given fresh impetus by health tech startups which have helmed a brand-new segment of digital healthcare services for organizations, serving as a single touchpoint for employee health benefits activities. There are a few health tech startups such as ours that provide a digital platform access to HR departments in corporates that can track the welfare of their employees. Anonymised, aggregated data on health aspects can throw up insights on how people are progressing.
Focus on employee health can do wonders for employers and employees. With new-age healthcare touchpoints aiding businesses in caring for employees’ overall wellbeing, a digital platform providing business intelligence, care planning standards, and quality execution are imminent and the only way ahead!
This article has been written by Siddharth Upadhyaya, Founding Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, OurHealthMate. The article has been initially published in Deccan Chronicle.
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