The health of corporate India has taken a dive over the last decade owing to their sedentary lifestyle, growing work pressures, and lack of harmony between personal and professional lives, among other reasons. One out of every two employees in the country suffers from stress while 43 percent of them have skewed BMI, as revealed in a 2016 study. It has also been found that a large percentage of people in the corporate sector face the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and other lifestyle-related disorders.
In the light of such unsettling numbers, it has become vital for organizations to recognize the need of creating a ‘wellbeing-focused workplace’. Ill-health not just affects the productivity of the employees and increases the rate of absenteeism, but also has a direct impact on an organization’s bottom line. According to an ASSOCHAM report, the formal sector of India can save up to US$20 billion each year through 1 percent reduction in absenteeism alone, and concurrently safeguard employees against lifestyle and chronic diseases by adopting a strategically-designed ‘corporate wellness’ programme.
The key to ‘corporate wellness’ is offering employees a series of benefits and activities that promote their health and well-being. Here are some major initiatives that can help Indian companies create a workplace that integrates a total health and wellness model into every aspect of their business:
It has become imperative for companies to focus on general prevention by having medical check-ups for employees at least once a year. Offering flu vaccinations, conducting awareness workshops on general health issues, and taking group health insurance for employees will encourage employees to prioritize their health. Simply offering a rebate or incentive on healthcare can also work wonders!
Nothing is better to stave off illness and ensure a healthy mind and body than getting employees up and active. Incorporating on-site fitness centres, sports teams, marathons, or guided yoga classes can be a great way to inculcate wellness culture at a workplace. Even low-cost solutions like sit-stand desks, walking meetings, bike racks, or ‘deskercises’ can go a long way to getting the employees moving.
It is an undeniable fact that food lies at the core of health and well-being. Corporate kitchens should thus stock healthy snacks and drink options such as granola bars, fruits and nuts, green tea, protein shakes, etc. to encourage healthy eating habits among employees. Providing healthy breakfast and other meals at subsidized rates can also help ensure an environment of health at the workplace.
There is a common belief that healthy foods are expensive and thus cannot be available to one and all. However, there are many superfoods that involve only a small investment but offer big leaps when it comes to the health and wellness of employees. Providing them with condensed superfoods which are natural-based, such as berries, green tea, dark chocolate, etc. will ensure their holistic nutrition.
For that extra motivation to keep health in line, companies can start various incentive programmes for employees. From covering a part of their health premium for having a healthy BMI to something as small as giving a cash prize for losing that extra flab, financial rewards can work quite effectively.
Being physically fit alone is not enough to ensure the health and productivity of employees. It is just as essential to improve their mental health and relieve them of stress through mindfulness practices like meditation and breathing, emotional intelligence development training, and counselling sessions. For a wellbeing-focused workplace, companies must also build a culture where employees practice gratitude, encourage positive communication, and have a deep sense of purpose and contribution.
Deploying these corporate wellness initiatives can help employers improve the health and well-being of their employees, and consequently enhance their productivity, lower absenteeism, cut health care costs, provide higher job satisfaction, and secure a long-term sustainable competitive advantage. Health and wellness is thus the new fuel for driving the successful corporate India of tomorrow!
Shivam Hingorani is Founder of Ace Blend (Natural Protein & Superfoods Nourisher).
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)