Gaurav Bhandari, a Mumbai-based IT professional, is content with the work-life balance he has been able to achieve thanks to his company’s wellness programme. Constant work-related travels across India and a sedentary lifestyle coupled with night shifts were taking a toll on his health. With the encouragement and help of his company, he moved a lot closer to his workplace. “Today, my office is just a walk away from home at Airoli in Navi Mumbai, so no long hour travels to work. My body mass index (BMI) is under check. Besides, I am able to spend quality time with my wife and daughters,” says Bhandari. Bhandari, 38, represents the archetypal corporate employee who was facing the rigours of a hectic work schedule that drained him physically, mentally and psychologically a few years ago. However, corporates are increasingly chalking out wellness programmes for their employees that are ‘need and evidence-based’, as they are beginning to see how it could influence the profitability index graph in the long term.
Holistic as the buzzword
A full-fledged gym, meditation sessions, customised food menu in office canteens, flexible work hours and a preventive health package remain a given as part of a company’s wellness initiative. However, a key difference between the approach a few years ago and now is the shift from being voluntary health offerings to the mandatory introduction of holistic wellness programmes. “We believe health is no longer only the responsibility of particular functions of an organisation. Instead, it is an integrated part of a company’s strategy, governance and operational framework, underpinned by tailored and targeted interventions to assessed need and engagement—both at an individual and employer level,” says Sailesh Shetty, vice-president, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd.
The evolution of a healthy workplace at Toyota Kirloskar comprises four levels. For example, the first level focuses on sports, the second level stresses on exercise and fitness, the third level identifies and prevents health risk factors, and the fourth level focuses on enhancement of health and productivity. A tailor-made Art of Living programme, as well as a 24×7 free counselling service known as ‘Aasare’ to provide emotional support to workers on personal and workplace issues, stress management through occupational health management (OHA), obesity and overweight prevention programmes called ‘Lean works’ are some of the initiatives that are practised regularly through plan, do check and action (PDCA). In addition, specific health programmes are designed to suit the needs of different employee lifecycles considering their advancing age factor. The wellness programmes are also more holistic than before and also include employee engagement which can affect health. For instance, more companies are realising that presenteeism is a larger issue than the impact of absenteeism on the workplace.
Ideally, presenteeism is defined as the practice of coming to work despite illness, injury or other distress, often resulting in reduced productivity. “About five years ago, we introduced flexi work timings wherein an employee needs to be present in the office only between 11am and 4pm and can choose to come early and leave soon or walk in late and go back home accordingly. Besides, an employee has been given the flexibility to operate from any of the offices that are close to their home. In addition, an employee can choose to work from home two days in a month,” says Lancelot Cutinha, headhuman resources, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd. Moreover, the company has also relooked at the number of maternity leaves being extended. It now provides 40 weeks of maternity leaves, which includes four weeks of part-time work as well. Similarly, paternity leaves are also now provided at Mahindra & Mahindra group, which operates in 12 key business sectors.