Emotional well-being of workforce a concern for Indian employers

A study by Willis Towers Watson reveals that Indian companies are serious about developing a formal physical and mental health strategy for their employees, as they are most concerned about their employees’ lack of physical activity and stress.

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Organisations in India are taking the health and wellness of their workforce very seriously. As per a recent study by Willis Towers Watson, the global advisory, broking and solutions company, organisations have now realised that their employees’ health and physical and mental well-being is as important as their financial well-being.

66 per cent of organisations have already taken, or are seriously considering mental health strategy for their staff in the next three years. Presently, only eight per cent of employers offer programmes to support chronic behavioural health problems, but 59 per cent are planning to offer them sometime soon. 63 per cent have either already developed or are in the process of developing a strategy to improve the financial well-being, and 13 per cent are considering it in three years’ time. Fifty per cent organisations intend to offer customised or personalised messages to help improve financial planning as compared to only six per cent today.

While steps are being taken in the right direction, overall, there is still a lack of a complete health and wellness strategy.

More than 80 per cent of the organisations have done something towards achieving wellness for their workforce — in the areas of weight management, condition management, physical activity and nutrition, stress management and mental health. Sixty-one per cent have taken at least one step to improve the financial well-being of employees in 2018. However, it remains a matter of worry that almost 50 per cent of the companies surveyed are yet to put in place a formal health and well-being strategy.

According to Rohit Jain, head-India, Willis Towers Watson, while the focus on employee health is a positive thing, “…to translate this into all round well-being, enhanced productivity, and ultimately improved financial performance, companies must develop a coherent and holistic health and wellness strategy encompassing all four aspects — physical, emotional, financial and family.”

What is encouraging is that more and more companies are accepting the fact that the family plays an important role in the overall well-being of an employee, which naturally has a positive effect on productivity. Therefore, organisations are increasingly engaging the workers’ families in many ways— through various programmes and activities; by communicating with and reaching out to family members; and by redesigning employee-assistance programmes to ensure emotional and financial well-being for employees and dependents (44 per cent).

The top challenges are as follows:
• Rising benefit costs – 59%
• Lack of data to measure plan outcomes/changes in member behaviour – 49%
• Lack of appropriate technology solution to deliver health & well-being programmes- 42%
• Lack of employee engagement with health and wellness programmes- 40%

Companies feel physical activity (62 per cent), and stress (55 per cent) are the top concerns for their employees’ lifestyle , followed by obesity (43 per cent), poor financial status (27 per cent) and tobacco use (25 per cent).

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It is also learnt that companies are slowly and steadilyly adopting a segmented and targeted approach with 60 per cent planning to focus on individuals on the basis of their health risks by 2021.

One in three organisations already have a formal technology strategy in place, and have developed a dedicated portal as a hub for health and well-being programmes. By 2021, 67 per cent organisations will start using web and mobile-based lifestyle behaviour coaching programmes, while 58 per cent are asset to sponsor the use of wearable devices to monitor physical activity and nutrition.

The survey also revealed that even though 82 per cent of the organisations have begun communicating regularly with employees encouraging employee safety and well-being, two in five admit that poor employee understanding is a major hurdle.

Sudesh Shetty, Head of Health & Benefits, Willis Towers Watson India Insurance Brokers said, “Organisations must realise that an effective communication strategy that is segmented, creative, multi-channel and sustained over a campaign period is absolutely critical for employee participation, engagement, and eventually the success of any health and well-being strategy.”

The well-being study, which aims to explore the strategies and tactics used by organisations in India to address employee health and well-being, cover more than 100 organisations between June and August, 2018.

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