Apollo Munich Health Insurance: Bringing some fun into the workplace

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Fun at work is not just essential but an innate part of AMHI’s culture.

‘All work and no play’ has never worked. In fact, workplaces nowadays strongly realise and encourage the importance of including fun at work to cut down on the monotony. So much so, that fun at work is now serious business for organisations as they ensure there is either a dedicated resource looking after the initiatives or have it outsourced to experts in the area.

For Apollo Munich Health Insurance, fun at work is not just essential but an innate part of its culture. This insurance company, unlike the BFSI sector that’s known to be boring and monotonous in terms of work routines, organises various fun activities to make its work environment more engaging and interesting. The activities are meticulously planned and strategically timed so that they do not disturb workloads and yet provide the much-needed break to people.

Some of the initiatives are meant to simply provide a life learning, some food for thought to people to keep them energised and motivated throughout their tasks. For instance, the ‘soch for the day’ is a new inspiring quote that’s put up in the washrooms of their office every day, where people can read and spend a few minutes pondering over the same.

This month, AMHI just concluded a unique contest called ‘Kaun banega spell-bee champion’ which was a spell marathon, held at the head office in Gurgaon and relayed live across the office. To encourage its singing talent, it had organised Saregama@AMHI, which was a six-month long effort culminating in October, in a grand finale.

SaReGaM@AMHI participants

Such initiatives increase employee stickiness. People who have fun at work and enjoy their job, stick around. Moreover, when money is tight and it is difficult to offer financial incentives, creating a happier workplace is an easy, affordable way to reward and retain staff.

It brought AMHI’s singing talent from across the country to a single stage on a dazzling evening, as 16 finalists emerged from a set of 76, who were in turn selected from 251 registrations. App-based coaching, mentoring and guidance was provided to hone the skills of the participants at every stage. The semi-finals were held across five cities for five zones + one office as CPC office (Gurgaon).

This contest, which was open to the entire staff, was won by Umang Shastri, who is a security guard at their Ahmedabad office.

Similarly, Twinkle Toes was an extravaganza event organised in the event of the 10th anniversary celebrations of AMHI. The contest brought to fore the dancing skills of seven teams comprising employees who took great interest in choreographing their dance, designing the costumes, selecting the props and executing the dance numbers. The top teams not only received lucrative cash prizes but also gained a lot of organisation-wide fame.

AMHI’s executive director and chief people officer, Sriharsha Achar, says, “Such initiatives increase employee stickiness. People who have fun at work and enjoy their job, stick around. Moreover, when money is tight and it is difficult to offer financial incentives, creating a happier workplace is an easy, affordable way to reward and retain staff.”

Planning and executing such activities at the right time with limited budgets, is far from easy. As long as the activities and initiatives do not take too much time away from work, managers are fine with them.

Money certainly cannot buy happiness, but happiness is known to bring in more productivity and in turn more profits, which may then be distributed amongst the workforce itself.

In a similar initiative, called ‘Happily Wrappily’, which was a low-cost, high-return project, the Company was able to engage the staff and their children. While other organisations have ‘bring your kids to work day’ or something similar, AMHI, on its 10th anniversary, got their employees’ kids to design the gift wrapping paper for the anniversary. Although, this was initially planned as a contest, considering the efforts each of the children had put in, the Company acknowledged and rewarded them all.

More ongoing and unique initiatives—such as a selfie contest, Shutter Shots, a Gratitude Week or a Stress Awareness Month and ‘No Shave November’ or ‘Movember’, where both men and women clicked pictures with real or fake moustaches, to promote men’s health—at AMHI, keep people happy and engaged.

However, planning and executing such activities at the right time with limited budgets, is far from easy. Achar is of the view that as long as the activities and initiatives do not take too much time away from work, managers are fine with them. “However, that does not mean there is something happening every day. The activities need to be spread out evenly across the year and involve a good mix of events. Also, advance budgeting and keeping costs within what has been planned are prerequisites for a buy in,” he opines.

A meeting with Parul Chatterjee, chief manager, employee engagement, Apollo Munich Health Insurance, and the mastermind behind these activities, is enough to give you an idea of the serious planning and hard work it takes to churn out these fun initiatives. Spreading cheer is an important business agenda for her, as she sees it as a daily dose for people to stay motivated and give their best.

That said, it is better to have an internal dedicated resource for the same if fun at work is not just a one-off initiative, or an off-site, but a part of the work culture. Since people internally understand what will work best, involvement of internal employees better promotes camaraderie and team work. The work gets distributed amongst people willing to take ownership to deliver something that will spread happiness.

“Also, to ensure consistency of practices and policy framework across the length and breadth of the organisation as well as the country, it is important that organisations have a dedicated ‘chief employee engagement officer’ or a ‘chief happiness officer’,” says Achar. While AMHI is doing a significant job in trying to rid people of the monotony of work, while helping them see the fun side, it goes without saying that bringing in a fun element into the workplace certainly has its own immense benefits.

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