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This exhaustive guide will introduce you to workplace wellbeing strategies and tools that you can use to build a holistic programme that is scientific, proactive, and preventive, and which enables your team to thrive.
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Why should employers focus on holistic well-being at work?
One of the first concerns of HR and business leaders with regard to employee wellbeing is a rather basic one. And that is: how do you define where well-being starts and ends?

More often than not, the ‘term workplace well-being’ is used to refer to a basket of services and benefits intended for the physical well-being of employees. Things such as medical insurance (which, for the most part, does not cover mental health ailments), telemedicine, gym memberships or yoga workshops, daily activity or fitness challenges, etc.

But can well-being be restricted to gym memberships or sleep apps alone?

The answer is obvious. Employers need to be as concerned about the emotional welfare of employees, as about the latter’s physical wellness. Ailments like anxiety or depression are no less critical than heart disease or diabetes, in terms of their impact on individuals, and over time, organisations. Many employers do talk about the importance of emotional well-being, but they are still in the minority. And even among those who vouch for it, there is often a gap between intent and action.

Many companies, for instance, encourage people to take mental health breaks. However, when appraisal season rolls around, the number of hours worked suddenly becomes an important metric in handing out promotions or rewards. Other companies persist with rigid or centralised management structures that belie the promise of an ‘empowered’ workplace. And then there are employers who believe that workplace wellbeing starts and ends with employee assistance programmes or EAPs, despite their huge under-utilisation rates.

The approach to psychological and emotional wellbeing is nothing if not preventive and holistic. The feeling of being secure, valued, and productive in one’s workplace depends on one’s 360-degree environment — things like workplace culture, relationships, management style, the level of support and flexibility one gets, and more. And this list isn’t static. In an age of emerging complexities like remote work, the ‘hustle’ epidemic, and the threats posed by constant economic downturns and technological change, holistic corporate wellbeing is not a destination, but a journey that requires constant effort, evaluation, tweaking, and course-correction on the part of employers.

How you do anything is how you do everything. - Zen Buddhist saying.

Holistic and proactive well-being isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But it is vital. Workers today are more stretched and stressed — and also aware of it. Here are some statistics that should make employers sit up and take notice.

SNAPSHOT 1- EMPLOYEE WELLBEING IS BROKEN

How the pandemic has impacted leaders’ priorities

COVID-19 is the defining disruptor of our times. But the good news is that leaders and decision-makers are today determined to respond to it with clarity and empathy. There is a genuine desire to help employees manage the demands of work and family, and to make them feel valued at work.

In some respects, employers can’t afford to look the other way. The period since early 2020 has been immensely stressful for employees. Many companies cut salaries or jobs, leading to financial uncertainty for millions of people. A large number of workers reported feeling anxious and depressed. Also, the lack of in-person interactions meant that work relationships and culture took a beating. Employers are concerned that these factors could drive up voluntary turnover as the Indian economy and the job market improve, and employees find more opportunities coming their way.

Therefore, employee health and well-being are among the biggest priorities of employers today. According to the 2021 HR Sentiment Survey by Future Workplace, ‘employee well-being and mental health’ was the #1 priority of HR professionals in the US. A global survey of 1000 leaders by Infosys yielded similar findings: investments in remote connectivity, and the safety and well-being of employees were among the top aspects of workplace transformation chosen by the surveyed employers.

Interestingly, showcasing a commitment to people’s well-being is also becoming an opportunity for brands to distinguish themselves from their peers. Willis Towers Watson’s Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey shows that 85% of Indian employers plan to use their well-being programme as a key differentiator in the next 3 years, from 18% today.

So companies are clearly waking up to the importance of well-being. And some more reasons for this shift include things such as:

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