Health and Wellness for the New Workplace

Health and Wellness for the New Workplace
The new workplace has a long-term impact on the physical and mental health of employees. Companies have started realizing that the way the new workplace is being handled is not sustainable.

“You are on mute”. This was the most popular line in 2021. Guess, which was the most missed line in 2021. That was “Let’s go for a tea”. For the past two years, breaks for most of the corporate workers got compromised. A doctor told me that the timing of breaks makes the most difference on physical and mental health of people.

Irregular eating increases the risk of diabetes, blood pressure, and obesity. Continuous working reduces the attention span and focus and lowers productivity.

What’s the Big Deal?

You can set an alarm and take a break. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. We need company for breaks, exercise or even having fun. That is why we are called social animals. The breaks are just one reflection of the fundamental change which has happened due to the pandemic.

The Fundamental Change

That fundamental change is the definition of the workplace. A significant number of people have started working from their homes. Not only that, almost half of the “work from home” workers have been working from their hometowns. The screen time has increased multifold.

The ergonomic standards have taken a sharp plunge. The average working time has increased and the break times have taken a break.

How It Impacts

The new workplace has a long-term impact on the physical and mental health of employees. Companies have started realizing that the way the new workplace is being handled is not sustainable. As per Microsoft Work Trend Index, employee burnout ratio in India has increased to 29%.

The big attrition is another reflection of mental health issues emerging from the deep unexplainable dissent which is a mixture of uncertainty, revenge, burnout, and desire to break free. Finally, it all adds up to the rising health insurance premiums.

How to Solve It?

All these seem like different problems but they have the same origin. People have social needs. When these needs are not met, there start mental health issues. The mental health issues start reflecting as physical health issues and other organizational problems.

The solution to these issues is three Ps

  • People Manager Maturity- People managers are the regular touchpoints for employees and have a huge impact on the psyche of the employees. The people managers need to be regularly refreshed on skills like listening, emotional intelligence, time management, reviewing, counselling and coaching.
  • Policies- Work from Home was a cost-saving for companies. Employees also saved on travel costs. However, work from home also required investment. The investment was made in bare essentials like internet connection and power backups. However when it came to ergonomic office setup, many turned blind eye towards it. Physically ailing body does not allow the mind to contribute meaningfully towards work. Policies are required for new office hours, ergonomics, and discipline.
  • People Connect- This is the most basic need of a social animal, the need to talk. They need to talk to someone about something other than work. There is a need to create opportunities and interventions where people can connect with each other naturally and talk about things. Currently, these interventions are christened as “Mental Health Initiatives”. People do not subscribe due to the stigma attached to it. Hence some creativity is required here.

This brings us to the core of the subject, how these factors are contributing towards the trends in employee health and wellness.

Trends in Employee Health and Wellness

The 4 key emerging trends are

  • Customization- More and more organizations are inclined to increase their coverage by adding top-ups with the basic insurance plan. That reduces the average insurance premium. Another trend is co-pay, sharing the expenses with employees, to ensure responsible usage of the health benefits. (de)inclusion of parents is another debate. Moving forward, organizations intend to have employee-wise customization of the health insurance coverage rather than using a blanket policy for all the employees.
  • Health and Wellness Incentives- If you go to the gym for 30 minutes and burn 300 calories, you accumulate HealthReturns which you can use to redeem against your premium. Such incentive plans will define the future in the remote working environment. The Online Health Apps and the Insurance Service providers are getting geared for this kind of ecosystem.
  • My Health, My Ownership- As people are becoming more conscious about their health and increasing healthcare costs. People have started recognizing the need to have their medical history in one place. Currently, the healthcare service provider changes with each job change. Organizations may soon start encouraging employees to manage their healthcare on their own and submit the healthcare plans for reimbursements, just like people make investment declarations for tax exemption.
  • Coverage Expansion- Work from hometown has put pressure on insurance providers to expand their networks deep inside the nooks and corners of India to service the new workplace. This will improve the health standards across the country.


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