God of small things: Integration of work and well-being

Unless employees feel taken care of and find meaning in their work, productivity cannot improve

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Most companies have a full fledged employee well-being programme, and they also spent substantially on these programmes. Yet, the outcome of such programmes is not always satisfactory.

The problem is that organisations often keep these well-being programmes independent of an employees work-life and not integrate with it.

The success lies in small things. When companies try and make small differences that makes work-life easier for employees, the impact is many fold. This actually is a true integration of work life with wellbeing.

For instance, if an organisation fails to look after the safety of its women employees who are working till late in the evening, then even the annual bonus will not make much of a difference in their perception of the company’s treatment of its women employees. Therefore, instead of just compensating via an annual bonus, a cab facility for women working late may be a wiser decision.

Employee well-being cannot be treated as a separate policy. The motive of such policies is to make the workplace convenient for the employees of all sections.

Naresh Kumar Puritipati – HR director, Lactalis Group

Navin Gurnaney, CEO, Tata Starbucks, says, “For us, the satisfaction of the employees across all the levels is equally important if not more than that of the customers. We make sure that from our end, we don’t place our partners (Starbucks refers to its employees as partners) at such outlets, commuting to which may take more than an hour. There have been instances of women employees being transferred to outlets closer to where they shifted after marriage. In fact, if a woman employee shifts to a different state or city, we try looking out for outlets which are near their homes, where they can be transferred to.”

He further says, “Starbucks believes that most issues can be addressed with the right initiatives. However, we don’t force our policies on the staff. There are many people who prefer workplace ambience over the commuting comfort. I have come across some partners who have shifted their residence away from the outlet location, but haven’t appealed for a transfer as they enjoy working with their colleagues at that outlet.”

It is high time employers realise the need to initiate employee well-being programmes and make it a workplace culture instead of treating it as a different initiative.

Raj Raghavan, head-HR, Indigo

The definition of employee well-being has evolved with time. It is no more limited to only health benefits or maternity leaves. Today, well-being covers a larger area, which includes both physical and mental, and family time. Motherhood is not just a physical challenge for a woman, but demands that she spend enough time with her child, contributing to its upbringing. Keeping this important aspect of motherhood in mind, Indigo offers a change in the terms of contract when its women pilots become mothers. They can choose to fly two weeks a month and take two weeks off to spend time with their children.”

Raj Raghavan, head-HR, Indigo, says, “There is no other way of taking care of employees other than integrating employee well-being programmes with work. These are parallel and go hand in hand. Employees need to find meaning in the work they do, otherwise their productivity will not be enhanced. It is high time employers realise the need to initiate employee well-being programmes and make it a workplace culture instead of treating it as a different initiative.”

However, one set of rules may not be applicable to every employee. The needs vary with factors, such as age, gender, role in the family and place of residence. Even though rules cannot be set according to individual needs, following a trend for the rules makes the employee well-being activities and programmes significant. Naresh Kumar Puritipati – HR director, Lactalis Group, says, “Firstly, employee well-being cannot be treated as a separate policy. The motive of such policies is to make the workplace convenient for the employees of all sections. Secondly, an organisation is a heterogeneous mixture of people with varying backgrounds. Therefore, the needs vary from person to person. Thus, an organisation has to be flexible enough for every employee to fit into the frame. While we all are working from home, this phase is more challenging for the women employees. Therefore, they definitely need and deserve special care from their companies.”

Starbucks believes that most issues can be addressed with the right initiatives. However, we don’t force our policies on the staff.

Navin Gurnaney, CEO, Tata Starbucks

Talking of what Lactalis may initiate as part of the employee well-being, in future, Puritipati explains, “Post pandemic, we plan to offer permanent remote-working facility to our women employees across some sections, and also to those who are commuting comparatively longer distance to reach office. We are in talks to finalise this measure.”

The more the employees are taken care of by their organisations, the better is their productivity. This is because every function will have its own ocean of challenges, but employees will be able to swim through it all only with a life jacket provided by the company, in the form of well-being initiatives. A good and integrated employee well-being programme can bring about changes in the perspective of the workers about workload. It helps them enjoy the right work-life balance in return for which a company benefits from employee satisfaction. Therefore, it is wiser to integrate employee well-being with work.

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