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Recipe for "A Healthy Workplace"

“Good investors are always looking to find ever more sophisticated ways to understand the underlying strength of a company. Health and well being are powerful indicators in assessing the businesses ability to attract, retain and motivate top performing employees. In fact there is increasing evidence that a healthy workforce provides a competitive advantage”

With years of experience in prompting and promoting wellness in organizations – here is what we set out as ingredients and a recipe for “Building Healthy Workplaces” at HCS Wellness
Leadership Commitment
Haven’t we heard culture has strategy for breakfast and culture more often than not is modeled from the top. Some indicators to leadership commitment are

  1. Is there a specific budget for wellness initiatives?
  2. Is there a specific team devoted to driving wellness initiatives within the organization
  3. Does the CEO have a healthy lifestyle?
  4. How often does health & wellness find priority in a CEO’s communication to her people?

Measurement of the correct data
What’s measured improves (though I am also tempted to admit that everything that counts can be counted). Nonetheless in order to manage anything you need to know where you are to decide where you want to be. Measurements would mean

  1. Metrics around indicators of health and wellness in an organization – Health Insurance claims, Engagement surveys, Absenteeism etc
  2. Around employee health you need to measure and track data at two levels –
  • Health screening (bio-metrics like BMI, Random Blood Sugar, BP, Cholesterol) measures are good indicators to work on for slightly older employees who have sinned enough for their sins to show up in their health screening reports
  • Health Risk Assessment to measure which of the indicators (measured as a part of the Health screening) are at a risk of going awry due to the lifestyle of the participant today. For the kind of young population working in our services industry it is more important to measure all dimensions of their lifestyle and not wait for the effects to show up in screening results

Relevant Plan Design
Wellness initiatives have to be “responsive” to the findings from the measurement. Initiatives which are taken as a ‘fad’ or as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to a health exigency in the organization are short lived in the memory as well as the lives of employees in the organization. Given that budgets will always be a constraint it is also important that the design of the initiatives is such that maximum value of every rupee spent is extracted. For eg. an annual preventive health check for senior employees is going to do nothing for their health if it’s not followed up with a support plan for individuals. We have seen organizations going in for Preventive Health checks where more than 95% of people have done practically nothing with these reports as their health metrics deteriorate in the annual health-check report year after year gathering dust in drawers at home.
Disciplined Implementation
Strategy without execution is hallucination. The keyword here is discipline. Either organizations should have a well managed wellness team reporting into the Chief Medical Officer and even if the team has shared responsibility it needs to be run like any other business process within the organization. In the absence of a resident “Wellness expert” it is more prudent to take advice from outside. Be careful about hiring the right wellness partner whose interests are aligned to yours and who has bandwidth to understand wellness and experience to run health promotion programmes. A free service taken from the hospital which does your preventive health check will only inflate your insurance claims. I don’t need to explain – right?
Ongoing Support
Wellness is about living life fully. It cant be done in shifts or batches or only at the workplace and not at home. Its perennial and all pervading. Wellness initiatives need support of the entire management infrastructure to actually bear fruit. Haven’t you heard that one – an organization asked employees to not work late and asked for lights to be switched off at 6 p.m.. Managers have therefore asked their teams to carry their laptops home. Support – you get it?!
Having read this – do you think your organization has it in itself to build a healthy workplace? Write in if you have interesting experiences to share to either support or flout my opinions.

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