Why Most of Employee Wellness Programs Fail

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CHRO of Aptech Shourya Chakravarty has stepped down
Vishal Mehra will be the next CHRO from 1st February 2021. Vishal is a seasoned HR leader and has been with the company since 2016, leading a different vertical.

The concept of “Employee Wellness” has become the flavour of the season in many corporates. To be an employer of choice, many corporates join the bandwagon of employee wellness without much deliberations and hence these programs fail. In order to have a healthy and happy workforce, employee wellness should become an integral part of the company’s culture and business strategy.

Well-designed Program

A well-designed employee wellness program should improve employee morale and have a positive impact on the employee’s health. However, when corporates implement one-dimensional wellness programs, without taking employee opinion, it results in short-term or no participation from employees. The intent of employee wellness programs may be noble, but not all employees will be interested in running marathons. In order to be productive, the employee wellness program should have goals, monitoring mechanism and dedicated resources for its implementation. Employee well-being is not just about conducting health check-ups or health assessments, rather the results of these should be used for defining the health-related baseline. Based on this baseline the wellness program should be created and tailored based on employee requirements.

Not a Silo Program

Employee wellness programs should not be treated as siloed programs but should be interwoven in the organisation’s DNA. The programs launched should ensure sustainable healthy habits across the entire employee population. A few months ago, we deliberated upon how to inculcate healthy habits for Aptechites. We do have mini-gyms at some of our offices, but the intent was to do something impactful. We discussed this with our Happiness Committee who came up with the suggestion of improved quality of water (not just bottled water). After some deliberations, we decided to install Kangen water machines for providing alkaline water across all our offices. The benefits of alkaline water are many – it helps regulate pH levels of the body and prevent chronic diseases, boosts immunity, neutralizes acidity, among others. We even encourage our people to carry alkaline water for their home use.

Express Respect

Teams perform better when they feel and believe that they are respected, appreciated and valued. A key aspect of “wellness” is how we treat employees. Do we treat them with the respect which every human being deserves? Do we understand their concerns/ issues? Do we appreciate them when they do something good? Do we scream at them if they are unable to achieve their objectives & targets? Do we help them to manage their stress or do we end up contributing to their stress? Do we bully the weaker employees? All of these are a direct contributor to an employee’s health and overall wellness. It is equivalent to an organisation doing business without having structured values. Hence the wellness programs should be holistic which includes both mental and physical wellness. In my view, any wellness program begins with “mental wellness”. The organisation must ensure that the work environment is congenial, and employees can speak their minds without being bullied, penalised and abused, be it overtly or covertly.

Conclusion

There is no one rule of thumb which could define the wellness program as right or wrong. Wellness is all about ensuring that the employees are happy and look forward to Monday morning. It’s about leadership involvement and their vision to make the workforce healthy and happy by prioritising employee health and wellness in their list of goals.

Building employee wellness programs is easy but what needs to be ensured is that the employees embrace it; hence the programs should be engaging and evolving. Neither too many carrots nor too many sticks can make the wellness program effective. The employee wellness program will be successful if it is comprehensive and includes all the facets of employee wellness from mental to physical to financial.

As Joseph Addison said – “Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health, and is as friendly to the mind as to the body.” So let’s make the workplace more cheerful, happy and respectful!

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