Here’s why India can redefine employee wellness

Written by Shweta Sharan

Writes on education for The Hindu and Deccan Herald. Founder of Bangalore Schools, a 54,000-member parent and teacher community. Digital marketing strategist and social media expert with various schools in the city. Editor at Toka Box, a Seattle-based STEAM activity box and book curator for children. Gig worker. Other experiences and areas of expertise include technical writing, copy editing, business development, and video editing. Interests include literature, education, and cinema. Key strengths include exceptional writing abilities, creativity, a knack for mobilizing online communities, creating dynamite marketing campaigns and experimenting with new-age marketing and communication skills.

January 29, 2018

Many Indian companies have employee wellness programs but how does one know they work?

These three questions could tell you whether or not you are on the right track:

  1. Do you know what metrics matter to your organisation?
  2. Have you done a complete need analysis of your employees based on the nature of industry and their individual profiles? Have you used this to craft your employee wellness program?
  3. Have you linked objectives and KPIs to what can make a difference to employee productivity?

If you answered no to at least 1 of the above questions, then chances are that you may not be boosting your employees as well as you should.

Life and Money, India’s pioneer in the digital wellness for employee space, conducted a Twitter chat on January 19th, 2017. To better understand physical wellness in the Indian employee wellness space, we decided to bring in Siddharth Banerjee and Eika Banerjee to facilitate the chat.

Do we take emotional wellness seriously enough?

Eika Chaturvedi Banerjee leads three Future Learning business verticals and is also the creator of Future Learning’s line of signature programs, Bodhi. Siddharth Banerjee is the Executive Vice President (EVP) – Marketing and Head of Brand, Insights, Media, Activation and Digital at Vodafone India.

The theme of the chat was ‘The Science and Ancient Wisdom around Physical Wellness.’ Eika set the theme rolling by pinning down the concept of wellness as defined by our shastras, because it affects us and how we are, unlike employees from another country or culture.

According to Eika, physical wellness is tied down to emotional and financial wellness.

According to Anu Krishna, heightened self-awareness is key, as it will always tell us what the body needs. This is where India can one up other countries when it comes to understanding wellness – it takes into account the mind, body and soul. Louise Hay, Stephen Covey, George Lucas and Stanley Kubrick have been hugely influenced by Indian philosophy, Vedanta and ancient wisdom.

When talking about health and its importance in our lives, many participants in the chat came forward with their own experiences of how they neglected their health and how this played a toll on their emotional and financial health.

Anu Krishna noted that specific food habits and beliefs can also have an impact on the body and mind.

It’s that simple. Physical fitness impacts emotional health, which impacts the ability to be productive, earn money and make tough financial decisions. It’s time companies started tailoring programs and cues to make all these aspects work for an employee, instead of just have workshops in siloes. For example, it is not just important to talk about good habits to follow (working out, drinking, not feasting on junk) but getting into the psychology of how humans can trick their minds into forming good habits and breaking bad ones.

How to encourage employees to take physical wellness seriously

Siddharth Banerjee advocates following micro steps to make physical wellness a successful employee wellness prerogative.

This is a great way to get employees to understand just what goes into their food. Even Richard Thaler, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics recently for his work in economics and ‘choice architecture,’ talks about how restaurants and the entire food industry controls how you eat by omissions and commissions. Many restaurants don’t mention calorie count. Food labels are made with the assumption (and many times it is correct) that consumers don’t know how to read labels effectively. Salad or diet coke is given with cheesy hamburgers to allay this fear that the meal isn’t too unhealthy after all. It is up to us to be conscious consumers and employers can give the right ‘nudge’ to their employees by making sure they choose from hygienic food, whether it is a paratha or a pizza. And ban instant noodles!

Our participants had some superb ideas to get employees to take physical wellness seriously.

Smriti Joshi advocated distraction-free eating zones or spaces, where employees could unwind, eat and look at food as a community affair, instead of just gulping food down on the go and getting a task done.

Manoj Ganapathi suggested gamifying health goals.

How technology can help employees embrace physical wellness

The participants discussed how technology can be used to make employees understand the importance of healthy living practices. A few Twitter users mentioned that technology could be a distraction because of how it is taking over our lives.

Some of them said that it is all about how technology is used. In fact, technology could be used to measure the employees’ progress and health goals.

The engagement scores, as well as absolute productivity metrics, organization engagement metrics and retention scores, would all reflect your investment in employee wellness!

Siddharth also suggested an idea that could well become a huge trend!

In conclusion, our results from the chat found that everyone gets inspired by talking about physical wellness because it dominates other aspects of our lives, primarily happiness and success. Want to get your employees to do better and remain with you for a longer time? Start physical wellness routines that pivot on constant assessments and positive reinforcement. As Siddharth said, “If the world can appreciate Internet of Things, I am sure corporates would appreciate the interconnectedness of our bodies!”

The above blog is by Shweta Sharan

Image Credit : Pixabay

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