The Covid-19 pandemic has taught a lesson or two to both employers and employees on the importance, attention, and focus needed to be given to the overall wellness of people at workplaces, where they spend a major portion of their working lives.
The pandemic has disrupted the way the world lived and worked. It has caused a lot of mental, physical, and emotional stress to everyone.
Adapting to a new working culture has also added extra fatigue to the lives of employees. It has been over a year into the pandemic and HR leaders across the world have taken different initiatives to maintain the wellbeing of their employees.
The pandemic has really brought employee wellbeing onto the centre stage. Companies realize that employees are their valuable assets, and in difficult times like the pandemic, companies have to make extra efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Employee wellbeing is often misunderstood to be only confined to physical wellbeing, whereas it is a wide term that encompasses an employee’s physical, mental, psychological, social, and financial wellbeing.
Moderating a panel discussion at the Phoenix CXO Virtual Summit 2021, organized by ETHRWorld on September 30, Yuvraj Srivastava, Group CHRO, MakeMyTrip, said, “There is more consciousness about health and wellbeing in the minds of the employer as well as the employees, because of the pandemic. It has now struck everyone that they have to be far more careful about their health and wellbeing.”
Why should organizations invest in employee wellbeing?
“People are critical, as they are the key to the success and survival of the business and from there stems the need of investing in wellness,” said Anjali Rao, HR Leader and Senior Director, Intel India.
Employee wellbeing is extremely important for Employer Value Proposition and from the standpoint of the business because employees are the building blocks of a company. Organizations work hard to acquire the people with very niche technical skills and these are the skills that are built after investing a lot of time and effort. Employee wellbeing thus becomes very important for retaining the talent and building it further by investing in it.
“Employees’ health, psychological and emotional wellbeing is no longer a question of whether or not, it’s about how now,” said Chitresh Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Refyne.
Employee wellbeing is very important for any organization and it is not a new concept. It has been there for a long time, but it is critical to get it right otherwise it is of no use for both the employer and the employee. The need is to come up with a programme that is relevant to the needs of the employees at that point in time and constantly evolving to keep up with the changes.
Mental and emotional wellbeing of employees
Talking about the increased interest and awareness about employee wellbeing, Namrata Gill, VP – Corporate HR, Dr Reddy’s, pointed out that earlier employees took wellness programmes as something that was thrust upon them by the management, but ever since the pandemic hit, there has been a positive shift in the attitude of the employees towards these programmes.
HR leaders believe that there is a need for a well-rounded and holistic approach to designing employee wellbeing programmes. Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP and Head – HR (Global) and Head of Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, said, “The answer when we try to define workforce wellbeing is lifestyle wellbeing.” He further stated that every organization believes in a set of values, and the core values within an organization should be, respect for individuals because no one is going to stay for long if they are not respected.
Talking about emotional wellbeing, Visvanathan further said, “Instead of just putting money in their pocket, we also need to put an arm around them.” He suggested that having the resources to come out of a situation really helps the employees but knowing that their organization is there with them in their tough times gives them a sense of both financial and emotional security. “Personal support and providing solace to people that we as an organization are there for them has a huge impact on the morale of an individual and also overall wellbeing,” he added.
Financial wellbeing of the employees
The financial wellbeing of an employee is extremely important and probably is the area where the least innovation is done to date. Chitresh Sharma, Co-founder and CEO, Refyne, pointed out that a major chunk of a person’s time is spent in education and another major chunk in the organization they work for, but no one actually makes an effort to teach them how to manage their personal finances.
Sharma further suggested that organizations need to take a step towards helping their employees in maintaining their personal finances by redesigning the payroll models, for example commencing the salaries on a more regular basis, say weekly or biweekly. He also suggested that this change has to be brought through automated technology because finances are very individualistic in nature.
Adding to this, Vishwanathan said, “We need to ensure that financial complexities are not running in the minds of our people. Giving people a salary is also not enough. We also need to help them learn the art of creating wealth.”
Commenting on Sharma’s suggestion to commence salaries on a more regular basis like weekly or biweekly, Vishwanathan said water needs to be judged before jumping in.
Namrata Gill and Anjali also echoed Vishwanathan and said that Indians culturally operate in a way where we clear all our bills in the beginning of the month, so, for a change like this the entire ecosystem has to be changed and this process would take time although this could be a reality in the future.