Published on March 3, 2021 by Lopamudra Priyadarshini
Healthy employees = A healthy bottom line
The link between employee health and behaviour and business performance has been validated by a significant amount of research. A study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India ASSOCHAM suggested savings of USD20bn in India by end-2018 if corporates implemented effective wellness programmes. Corporate wellness has gained momentum in recent years, especially with the pandemic in 2020.
Consultants saw an increase in the percentage of companies implementing third-party wellness programmes to 61% in 2020 from 49% in 2019
The popularity of centralised wellness platforms increased in each wellness prospectus to 38% in 2020 from 31% in 2019
Demand for behavioural health offerings, which involve the connection between mental and physical health, has grown significantly since the start of the pandemic
The global corporate wellness market
With the global workforce affected by an invisible enemy, corporates had to find ways to support employee health and wellbeing quickly and effectively. While they found ways to protect their employees physically – by providing the option of working from home and flexible working hours – the effect on mental health initially went unnoticed. With an alarming number of cases of workplace depression, absenteeism, stress and anxiety, organisations realised the importance of moving from traditional wellness offerings to a more blended and holistic approach towards wellness.
The global corporate wellness market was valued at USD57.2bn in 2019, according to a study conducted by Grand View Research, and is expected to grow at a 5.9% CAGR from 2020 to 2027, with a significant contribution from the US.
The global corporate wellness market is segmented based on service, category and end-use industry.
Trends to follow in 2021
2021, undoubtedly is going to be the year of employee experience, and wellness would be a critical factor. Most organisations are moving towards offering more holistic wellness benefits to attract talent. This goes beyond providing the traditional medical, insurance and clinical improvement initiatives such as free health check-up camps. We list below the top trends to watch in corporate wellness in 2021:
- Emotional health programmes: A positive development amid the pandemic is the renewed focus on mental health. Talking about mental health has generally been taboo, but a direct relationship has been established between good mental health and a happy and productive life. As companies continued to navigate the crisis, however, employee burnout began to increase, driven by factors such as pandemic-induced fear, isolation, remote working conditions, longer working hours and increased household responsibilities. This resulted in conditions such as sleep disorders, anxiety, stress and hypertension, ultimately leading to a lack of concentration, absenteeism, non-productivity and opportunity cost. Employee assistance programmes, tele-counselling, coaching, wellness workshops, support circles, digital detox hours, talk therapy and wellness apps have gained popularity. Corporates are proactively trying to reduce anxiety and fear and convert them into creative and productive energy.
The pandemic has led to a surge in downloads of mental wellness apps, specifically those focusing on meditation, dealing with anxiety and falling asleep. The world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps in April 2020 saw a combined 2m more downloads during the month than in January 2020, reaching close to 10m total downloads for the month, according to a report by app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. The charts were dominated by market leaders, including #1 app Calm, with 3.9m downloads in April, followed by Headspace with 1.5m downloads and Meditopia, with 1.4m.
- Telemedicine programmes: Telemedicine is the use of electronic information to communicate technologies to provide and support healthcare services when distance separates the participants. It has emerged as a new horizon in the public health domain and is becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare infrastructure, boosting growth of telemedicine initiatives. The global telehealth and telemedicine market is, therefore, expected to grow at a CAGR of 37.7% and reach USD191.7bn by 2025 from an estimated USD38.7bn in 2020.(3) Although delivery of virtual care raises concerns about privacy, discrimination and over-diagnosis, we believe it will be an exciting trend to watch this year.
- Financial wellness: Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” Financial security is a basic need, according to Maslow’s hierarchy, and adopting healthy money habits would contribute to a stress-free life. Recognising the importance of this, corporates are helping their staff through education assistance programmes, soft loans, financial planning sessions and pension plans.
- Wearable technology: Investopedia defines "wearable technology”, also known as "wearables", as “a category of electronic devices that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing, implanted in the user's body, or even tattooed on the skin. The rapid adoption of such devices has placed wearable technology at the forefront of the internet of things (IoT)." A report published by Business Wire suggests that North and South America are the most extensive and fastest-growing markets, respectively, and that wearable technology data as a managed service will reach USD319m globally by 2026. The millennial workforce is highly driven by wearable technology – from smartphones, fitness trackers, hearables, smart clothing, body sensors, wearable cameras, head-mounted displays and location trackers to implantables, these gadgets and devices have become a way of life. The pandemic has reinforced the need to adopt this growing technology. We believe that with staff returning to office, organisations would need to relook at their policies and consider integrating this technology into their networking and servers without affecting productivity.
“Employers are investing the most in mental health (88%), telemedicine (87%), stress management/resilience (81%), mindfulness and meditation (69%), and COVID-19 risk intake/wellness passport programs (63%)”, according to a recent report by Wellable.
Wellness at Acuity Knowledge Partners
“The health and safety of our staff is our top priority.”
This was the tagline in the organisation-wide announcement by our senior management when we started working from home. Enforced in both letter and spirit, the company was lightning fast in adopting a holistic wellness approach to keep the geographically diverse and virtual workforce motivated, engaged and healthy.
Some notable initiatives:
COVID-19 coverage in medical Insurance. COVID-19 was included in the group medical insurance cover for all employees and their dependants.
REBOOT session. The Employee Engagement team launched an exclusive physical and mental wellbeing programme to virtually support all staff. The team ran programmes weekly to cater to the needs of a multigenerational workforce, including yoga, Zumba, dance fitness, group exercise and meditation classes and fitness challenges.
UPLIFT was another unique programme developed under the banner “Unleash Possibilities” to assist in emotional wellness. It used behavioural psychology to equip employees with tools and techniques to adapt to this new normal and promote a more harmonious personal and professional environment in these difficult times. The company also sponsored phone counselling sessions.
Upskilling. The Training & Knowledge Management team also quickly responded to the new challenge by launching a number of online courses and virtual classroom learning sessions to help staff continue to learn new skills.
Digital literacy. The Diversity networks conducted a number of sessions to create awareness of online safety and fraud, focusing on children of working parents.
Corporate wellness has become more of a business investment than an expense. Drive wellness to grow your business.
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About the Author
Lopamudra is a certified HR professional with over 14 years’ experience spanning across BFSI sector. Her areas of expertise include HR administration, Payroll, Benefits, Statutory Compliance, Employee Engagement and best practices. She also leads the HR operations team at our Bangalore center.
She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and is a certified Performance and Competence Developer by Carlton Advance Management University (CAMI-USA). Lopa enjoys coaching and mentoring MBA students and women willing to return to work. While she is off the job, she spends time with students and women communities helping them succeed in their career transition and growth.
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