Ensuring overall well-being at the workplace is crucial for employee satisfaction, productivity and engagement. By prioritising physical, mental and emotional health, organisations create a supportive environment that fosters employee success, reduces stress and promotes a positive work-life balance, leading to improved overall performance and retention.
Taking employee well-being to the next level, GE HealthCare South Asia has implemented HealthAhead, a comprehensive platform focusing on holistic well-being. This global well-being platform has been in operation for over ten years and brings interventions and initiatives throughout the year, specifically tailored for GE Healthcare in India and South Asia.
“Starting January 2023, we became independent, and with this newfound independence, we are moving forward with a very clear purpose as an organisation, to create a world where healthcare has no limits. We are trying to really transform our culture and shape it into certain specific tenets around people, patients and our customers,” says Divya Srivastava, CHRO, GE HealthCare, South Asia.
“We look at well-being impacting the organisation’s overall health, which manifests in culture and engagement survey scores, absenteeism, attrition and team performance.”
Divya Srivastava, CHRO, GE HealthCare, South Asia
As an independent company, the focus is on three fundamental pillars that form the foundation of GE HealthCare’s vision — people, patients and customers.
People: The first pillar is the people within the organisation. The goal is to create an environment where everyone can bring their true selves to work. The idea is to foster inclusion by providing equal opportunities and cultivating a culture of diverse thoughts.
Patients: The second pillar is dedicated to patients, ensuring that the work done directly benefits and impacts the end-users of the company’s equipment and services.
Customers: Lastly, the customers, viewed as partners in growth, play a crucial role in delivering healthcare solutions to patients. The theme is centred around learning, growth and career development, highlighting the organisation’s commitment to grooming leadership and helping employees realise their full potential.
These three significant themes align with the people-first culture the company is striving to cultivate, especially under its new identity as an independent organisation. “We keep them in mind as we work on our business objectives, and on our functional priorities as an HR organisation,” points out Srivastava.
GE HealthCare South Asia operates as a significant presence within the region. Its main presence is in India, followed by Bangladesh, and a smaller presence in Nepal. Additionally, the company conducts indirect business in countries such as Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, encompassing its overall South Asia presence.
The HealthAhead initiatives are implemented at the site level through active teams of employee volunteers. With multiple offices across India, particularly in Bangalore, the teams work together to identify problem areas or topical themes and ensure the delivery of HealthAhead’s overall objectives and strategies for the entire region.
For instance, the company is running a HealthAhead Championship, focused on healthy living. “This is a holistic approach to encouraging and motivating employees to think healthy right from the time they wake up to the time they go off to sleep. So, through the day, there is focus on different aspects — step count, taking time out for simple or short meditation sessions, engaging with colleagues in a non-office setup even while having healthy food in the cafeteria or special lunches specifically considering the nutritional content, ” shares Srivastava.
Four pillars of well-being
Coming to the other holistic well-being initiatives, the company focuses its efforts around the following four pillars of wellbeing:
1. Emotional well-being
Under this pillar, the company has many initiatives:
a) Employee assistance programme (EAP)
Under the emotional well-being pillar, GE HealthCare South Asia offers significant support to its employees through an Employee Assistance Programme or EAP. The EAP is highly valued and sought after by employees, as it provides anonymous and free-of-charge services in partnership with an external organisation. Additionally, the programme extends its support to employees and their families, and its utilisation has been particularly significant during periods of organisational change and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
With EAP, employees have the opportunity to engage in individual conversations that are completely confidential and anonymous if they choose to be.
GE HealthCare South Asia has many apps in place to support employee well-being to the fullest. The aim is to make well-being easily accessible on mobile phones, recognising the need for convenience and on-the-go accessibility.
One of these applications is ‘MeEquilibrium’, which is designed for stress management. It provides simple breathing exercises and a range of tools to help individuals maintain a state of equilibrium, build resilience and cope with daily stress. Employees and their family members can access this app free of charge.
Another application is ‘GroKo’, which focuses on personal well-being. It covers various aspects of physical health, including fitness, yoga and nutrition. It also offers resources for stress relief through meditation and emotional well-being support. This app is exclusively available to all GE HealthCare employees.
GE HealthCare South Asia has partnered with ‘Calm’, a popular application that assists in managing stress and anxiety. Employees can benefit from memberships and discounted subscriptions to this app.
These applications, along with the support provided through the EAP, address both the emotional and physical well-being of employees, at some level.
2. Physical well-being
The company broadly focuses on activities and events that go beyond just physical health. These events include volunteering initiatives, cricket or football matches, and other social-engagement activities that foster overall well-being. These activities specifically cater to the physical well-being of employees.
3. Financial well-being
The company collaborates with industry experts to provide coaching and guidance on financial management. This is in response to feedback from employees who expressed a need for support in understanding financial matters and building a safety net for themselves. The guidance covers areas such as tax management, filing taxes and general financial advice.
The company also offers employee discounts with certain market players who can assist in tax filing and provide advisory solutions. For new employees entering the workforce, the company offers extensive support to help them understand the importance of financial independence and the benefits of early investments for a secure financial future.
Additionally, the company pays attention to employees who are close to retirement. Through financial advisory and well-being sessions, they discuss retirement benefits and provide guidance on how to navigate the future effectively. This encompasses the aspect of financial well-being within the organisation.
4. Social well-being
Within the context of social well-being, GE HealthCare South Asia emphasises the importance of fostering connections and employee engagement. “We take time out to help our employees take a break from normal day through events and especially volunteering activities. It provides a lot of relief for our employees to just to be able to connect with each other and bond with each other,” asserts Srivastava.
The company maintains a continuous focus on social well-being and regularly organises ongoing engagements to support and enhance social interactions among employees. These initiatives are designed to create a positive and inclusive social environment within the organisation.
Additionally, the company assesses the success and impact of its employee well-being initiatives by evaluating the level of participation and engagement in the sessions and events. This is done through both qualitative and quantitative feedback from employees. “We also look at well-being impacting the organisation’s overall health, which manifests in culture and engagement survey scores, absenteeism, attrition and team performance,” shares Srivastava.
The organisation has been putting in efforts towards employee well-being ever since the pandemic hit the economy and forced people to confine themselves within the four walls of their home. Some of those initiatives included:
Wellness Wednesdays: The Wellness Wednesdays initiative was successfully launched, particularly during the COVID-19 period when employees faced restrictions and challenges. The aim was to provide a platform for employees to connect and share experiences while navigating the uncertainties and health concerns associated with the pandemic.
The initiative also sought to build resilience among employees and foster a sense of togetherness, considering that everyone was working remotely from different locations.
Wellness Wednesdays became a regular rhythm within the organisation, with a series of sessions and interventions planned every Wednesday. Additionally, the initiative also encouraged employees to reflect and apply the insights gained throughout the week, leading to more meaningful and engaging interactions during subsequent Wellness Wednesdays.
Srivastava attributes the success of Wellness Wednesdays to the leadership’s buy-in and commitment to its implementation. Their support helped foster a sense of unity among employees throughout the organisation, as the initiative was accessible to the entire South Asia employee group through online platforms.
“It connected everybody in the organisation, and therefore, was run as an initiative across the entire South Asia employee group through an online team programme. Everybody had access to it, and everybody could connect to it. We wanted to make employees feel that we are in this together as an organisation,” emphasises Srivastava.
The functional leaders took an additional step by offering wellness days off to their teams, demonstrating their genuine commitment to employee well-being during challenging times. This gesture was highly valued by employees and reinforced the leadership’s dedication to navigating the difficult circumstances together.
Overall, the leadership’s intent, consistent messaging and tangible support contributed to the success of the Wellness Wednesdays initiative and fostered a culture of prioritising well-being within the organisation.
Mental-health sessions: To increase mental-health awareness, the company also organised mental health sessions, featuring psychiatrist Dr. Shyam Bhatt. The impact of these sessions was positive in terms of raising awareness and providing support for mental health within the company.
“Till recently, even talking about mental health was taboo. People would think twice about discussing mental health in a professional setting fearing that they would be judged or that it would impact their performance or career. However, the COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in shifting the mindset around mental health, encouraging open discussions and destigmatising the topic,” shares Srivastava.
The sessions provided scientific insights into the effects of stress on the brain and body, helping employees gain a deeper understanding of their own experiences. They also provided cues on how to read body language and create open spaces for discussing mental wellness in team meetings and one-on-one conversations.
Following the success of these sessions, additional interventions were implemented, such as webinars focused on building resilience in people leaders. Currently, the company has a repository of mental-health sessions accessible to all employees through the HealthAhead platform.
Chai pe charcha: As a part of the informal initiatives focusing on employee mental well-being, the company introduced the ‘Chai pe charcha’ sessions for the sales teams. The programme was aimed to build connections and support employee well-being during the COVID-19 period, fostering a sense of bonding beyond work and providing a breather from the intense work routine.
“Due to remote work, the informal connections that naturally occur in office settings were missing, leading to burnout from back-to-back meetings. These sessions provided an opportunity for leaders to engage with their teams on non-work-related topics, sharing stories, discussing hobbies and current events,” points out Srivastava.
Now, in the pandemic-free era, the company has introduced new initiatives to be added to its employee well-being vision board. Overall, GE HealthCare is dedicated to supporting its employees’ holistic well-being across the following eight dimensions under the HealthAhead initiative:
i) Intellectual: The intellectual dimension focuses on expanding knowledge and skills through webinars, group-learning sessions and industry information sharing.
ii) Physical: The physical dimension emphasises physical activity, nutrition and sleep through marathons, step-count challenges, Zumba, yoga sessions and access to fitness apps.
iii) Emotional: The emotional dimension offers counselling support, resilience-building programmes, and expert sessions on stress management and empathy.
iv) Social: The social dimension fosters connections and a sense of belonging through networking, community events and volunteering activities.
v) Spiritual: The spiritual dimension encourages meditation and finding a higher purpose.
vi) Occupational: The occupational dimension promotes job satisfaction, career development and learning opportunities.
vii) Environmental: The environmental dimension emphasises working in stimulating and inclusive environments.
viii) Financial: The financial dimension provides resources and guidance on financial planning, investing and budgeting through webinars and informational materials on the HealthAhead portal.
“The purpose behind examining the eight dimensions of wellness was to identify various aspects that contribute to an individual’s well-being in both personal and organisational settings. These dimensions were chosen based on extensive research conducted by the team. The idea is to recognise that wellness is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Each person may have different priorities and perspectives when it comes to wellness. For one person, it may be related to the environment, while for another, it may be linked to financial or cultural factors. The aim is to ensure that the well-being initiatives cater to the diverse needs of the employees, resonating with them individually,” concludes Srivastava.