While everyone talks about productivity, profits and performance, only a few are really concerned about being happy at work. Aviva Life Insurance is one of those few companies that has started a conversation around why employees should be happy at work. The Company has also initiated steps to educate its employees about the importance of happiness at work, to stay engaged and deliver better.
The second wave of the pandemic was so devastating that it took a toll on people’s physical and mental health. Add to that the challenges posed by remote working, and people ended up worried, anxious, stressed and mentally disturbed. Aviva could also feel the anxiety and emotional turbulence of the workforce and realised that its people really needed some cheering up. “We could feel that people were stressed, anxiety levels were high and there was very limited engagement with remote working,” shares Ashish Mittal, head of people, Aviva Life Insurance, exclusively with HRKatha.
Aviva was anyway conducting many active sessions on the health, emphasising how being physically healthy could really help one become active at work. In addition, it started to think about ways to kick start a conversation around being happy in life, which could then also impact the mental wellness of its employees.
“We wanted to create a journey for people to discover ways to beat their stress and anxiety levels, control anger and indulge in activities that made them feel happy in life, which would then also make them productive at work,” tells Mittal.
To this end, the HR team at Aviva got together and came up with a happiness campaign, aimed at spreading awareness about the importance of being happy and how to achieve a state of happiness.
“Performing or indulging in an activity that one finds really enjoyable, even for half an hour, can give one enough joy to last the entire day”
Ashish Mittal, head of people, Aviva Life Insurance
The eight-week campaign, which started in the month of June 2021, is in its last week now.
Before starting the programme, the Company did some research on the traits of a happy individual, pointing out qualities, such as the ability to manage stress, anxiety and anger, which went into making a person happy. It realised that happy individuals do things they like, every day, and this further makes them enjoy their work and experience happiness daily, so much so that they are able to give equal time to their family and social life.
Under the programme, the Company tied up with an external partner, to provide an app where people could log in, create an account and register to start their happiness journey. The registration offered access to various webinars on topics varying from how to be happy, including mindfulness sessions and also meditation. The focus of the webinars and sessions was on encouraging people to enjoy sound sleep, do things which made them happy, keep stress and anxiety levels in check and practise anger management.
A WhatsApp group was also created for all the registered employees, which was administered by people managers. Content was posted on this group periodically with fun tags, ‘Did you know?’ elements and articles, which promoted happiness in life. Participants also shared their journeys and experiences on the group, which further inspired everyone.
Happiness, as we are all aware, is quite subjective. Different people will derive happiness from different things. Mittal shares that if someone loves riding a bicycle, the Company would encourage that person to take time out to indulge in that activity every day. Similarly, he cites the example of a person who enjoys watching television or viewing content online on a particular subject — the campaign would encourage such a person to do that daily. “Performing or indulging in an activity that one finds really enjoyable, even for half an hour, can give one enough joy to last the entire day. And if it is made a daily practice, it will definitely have a positive impact,” asserts Mittal.
The application allowed participants to check their happiness quotient, which was calculated on the basis of their stress level, how often they got angry and whether they were able to achieve their happiness goals.
The response to the programme was rather positive, with almost 1500 employees participating. “My chats with some employees have revealed that they are really impressed, that as a company we are talking about happiness at work and educating the workforce about the same. For them, it was a unique subject to be introduced to,” shares Mittal.
Even after the happiness campaign ends, participants can continue to access the app if they wish.
Educating people on how to achieve happiness is one thing, and enabling it is another. The Company has tried to mitigate this issue by imposing a cap on calls and meetings. There will be no work calls or meetings — internal or external — after 6 p.m. and or before 9 a.m. In addition, an hour is set aside every day for employees to attend to their domestic work at home and indulge in personal work or activities.
Although this programme is in its last leg, there is a lot in the pipeline for the employees at Aviva Life Insurance. The Company is planning to launch a bouquet of initiatives around employee health and wellbeing, such as the health camp week, fitness week and meditation week.