Employers Must Prioritise Employee Wellness

/ Guest Column / Friday, 14 January 2022 17:25

By: Kaustov Kashyap
The pandemic is revolutionising wellness among people and organisations. Covid-19 has changed the perception of health and fitness, both at home and in the workplace. It has presented us with opportunities to improve wellness and its parameters, such as mental health, financial stability, relationships and work-life balance, and take those to a higher level. Personal wellbeing is no longer the responsibility of only individuals and doctors, but also that of employers and HR leaders. Things that employers can do to prioritise the wellness agenda for employees in 2022:
Teleconsultations
In the world of technology, more doctors are using online healthcare platforms to connect with patients through video conference or phone calls. It saves time and money as well as ensures social distancing. Employers can tie up with these teleconsultation apps to offer the workforce quick, free and real-time access to a team of healthcare professionals both on working and non-working days. Since the outbreak and especially during the second wave, teleconsultations came to the rescue of desperate patients, connecting them with doctors, hospitals and e-pharmacies.
According to a report, the teleconsultation segment in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 72% and valued at over $800 million by 2024. Hence, in 2022, we can expect more businesses, including SMEs and early-stage startups, to adopt teleconsultations for their employees.
Wellness programmes
In 2021, several organisations offered their employees routine health check-ups and wellness programmes, which, apart from Covid-19, covered diabetes, stress, cardiac health, fitness, yoga and meditation, and nutrition among others. In the coming year, we can expect more corporates to unveil wellness programmes that serve the distinct needs of their employees, and accord equal priority to productivity and health in the workplace. With more and more young people falling ill, and even succumbing, to lifestyle-related diseases, it is imperative that companies give as much attention to employee wellbeing as to balance sheets.
Relationship counselling
Healthy personal and sound professional relationships are key to satisfaction in the workplace. Companies are integrating relationship counselling sessions into employee health benefit plans to reduce stress levels and improve mental wellbeing, and by extension, performance. Employers can provide access to self-help apps and organise workshops that result in better employer-employee and employee-to-employee engagement.
Health insurance
Financial wellbeing is directly linked to employee wellbeing. Money, or the lack of it, is a major stress factor and often the cause of underperformance at work, resulting in health problems such as hypertension, cardiac and other illnesses. Employers can provide employees and their immediate families – usually parents, spouses and children – with adequate health insurance or increase the cover in the event they already have one in place. This can go a long way in mitigating the financial risks that employees face, particularly during a health crisis.
Work-life balance
Covid-19 has underscored the importance of work-life balance. In spite of work from home and the new hybrid model, a healthy work-life balance remains key to employee wellness and productivity. We saw how, during the WFH setup last year, many employees were stressed as they juggled their work obligations with household chores. I believe, in 2022, employers must adopt a hybrid work model where employees spend two or three days of the week in the office and for the rest, work remotely. This will do wonders for their mental and physical health.
Alternate therapies
The pandemic has only exacerbated problems that employees have been facing, whether it is a hectic lifestyle, peer pressure, financial woes, health issues or the lack of opportunities. Given this rather dismal scenario, employers should make alternate therapies, including yoga and meditation, an integral part of the work culture. These and other stress-relieving techniques can help the workforce deal better with day-to-day problems at home or at work and improve their overall outlook on life.
With a vast majority of employees in the formal sector reporting burnout from work or workplace-related stress, it is important that the corporate sector flags employee fatigue and go beyond traditional work and health-related benefits to ensure the occupational, mental, physical, emotional and social wellness of their employees. Year 2022 gives us a chance to start anew.
(The writer is a HR & Career Consultant Jorhat & Guwahati, Assam)

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