Vandana C Tilwani CHRO Havas Group India on Employee Wellbeing

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Vandana C Tilwani CHRO Havas Group India on Employee Wellbeing
The health and wellness space is not devoid of smart tech. From fitness apps to wearable devices, technology is being leveraged to drive the wellness agenda in the workplace by organizations.

Interaction with Vandana C Tilwani Chief Human Resources Officer Havas Group India On Employee Wellbeing

Vandana C Tilwani is currently the CHRO at Havas Group India, one of the world’s largest global communications companies. At the group level, her support extends to all the agencies that operate in the country.

With over 20 years of experience in diverse roles and industries, Vandana has successfully led the HR function and large teams in several multinational organizations like GroupM, Hilton, Conde Nast, WNS, and more in driving strategic objectives.

Q- What are the top challenges for HR Leaders in 2022?

The uncertainty caused by covid-19, its variants, and the ambiguity around opening up of borders, offices, and economy is diluting the efforts made in the direction of ‘returning to normalcy’.

Organizations are grappling with questions like ‘Should we call employees back to work?’, ‘Can we create a safe and healthy environment for the staff’? and ‘Should double vaccination be mandated and a condition to return to office?’, and so on.

The almost 2-year hiatus from an active life has made people question their priorities in life leading to them seeking a more balanced lifestyle and stress-free work even if that means lesser compensation.

The newer generation is looking for a hybrid work atmosphere and flexibility in timings. It’s the age of the gig economy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Organizations, however, are realizing the need to reorganize and restructure. And the lack of clarity isn’t helping much.

Q- How do you see changing landscape of employee wellbeing at workplace in past few years?

The pandemic has forced us to discuss more openly topics like employee wellbeing and mental health. The last two years have been quite tough on people and organizations with so many of us losing jobs, loved ones, and sources of income. Being stuck in their homes with nowhere to go, it is only understandable that people have experienced stress and anxiety at many levels.

More and more organisations are recognising that this is no longer an individual issue and we need to do more to break the taboo around it through awareness and conversations. And therefore, are willing to take steps to creating a healthy, safe and conducive environment for its employees through wellness programs – onsite and virtual.

Q- How to leverage technology for employee wellbeing in the current scenario?

The health and wellness space is not devoid of smart tech. From fitness apps to wearable devices, technology is being leveraged to drive the wellness agenda in the workplace by organizations.

Under the Havas Wellness Program, ‘Be Kind To Your Mind’ which is adopting a hybrid model, we are leveraging online tools like a wellness app, zoom/teams call, mailers, and more to deliver workshops, organize panel discussions, share videos, and other informative material on various health and wellness related topics.

Q- How to implement a successful employee wellbeing program at the workplace?

Every organization has its own unique need and that is determined by the kind of work their employees do the first step is to identify that need for your organization using tools like wellness and engagement surveys. These tend to be a good source of rich information about your people. Once you’ve studied this data, it’s easy to identify your top priorities in the area of employee wellness.

At Havas, which is a media and advertising company, our challenges revolved around stress and burn-out due to stretched work hours during the lockdown, tight client deadlines, and difficulties working from home.

To add to that, in India, there’s a taboo around mental health that prevents people from openly talking about what they’re going through due to the fear of being called incompetent and soft. Everyone is expected to perform at high levels, all the time. The pressures are high as there’s a lot at stake.

The ‘equalizing’ effect of the pandemic has made us realize that no one is invincible and we all feel vulnerable and out-of-sorts at some point in life. Our biggest motive through this program is to encourage discussions and motivate employees to come forward and talk about their issues without having to add filters. We want them to know that we understand and want to work with them through these challenges.

I believe if the intent is right which is backed by a solid and steady program that is delivered seamlessly, the results will be there for everyone to see. The program does not promise to take away all their problems, but can definitely help drive awareness, acceptance, and open conversations around mental wellness.

Q- What are the benefits at Havas Group when it comes to employee health & wellness?

At Havas, there’s immense focus on the agenda of employee wellness. We recognize that employees invest a significant amount of time and emotion at work being productive, delivering results, and building relationships and it’s only natural that it influences their attitude and approach to life, relationships outside of the office, and more importantly, their health – physical and mental.

With this awareness, we have launched a global wellness program called “Be Kind To Your Mind” to help employees learn about, prioritize and champion mental wellness. Through this initiative, we hope to promote an open culture around mental health and empower our employees to manage and prioritize it.

Through webinars, workshops, EAP, tips & tools, panel discussions, etc. on topics ranging from depression, bullying, addictions, and more, our aim is to take proactive steps to develop a culture to promote mental wellness and reduce mental ill-health.

Needless to mention that like most organisations, Havas too offers its employees health insurance benefits to support them in times of need. These include covers for medical treatments, accidents, term life, and more.

Q- Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Employees today have access to very open and diverse work cultures where they can thrive and grow in their careers. Organizations are providing them with healthy and safe working conditions, growth and networking opportunities, best-in-class wellness programs and so much more.

There are policies and programs that support flexible working, provide platforms to raise concerns, and offer employee benefits, which organizations are crafting for the welfare of their staff. I believe that employees need to leverage all these benefits to their advantage because ultimately they are the owners of their life.

Thank you, Vandana! 

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