Corporate Wellness: Need for Short and Long Term Strategy

April 7, 2010 at 4:23 am 1 comment

In the last few decades, the world has shifted from industrial economy to knowledge economy.  In the Industrial Economy, companies were hiring people in thousands during the industrial boom for jobs which demanded physical activities including operating machines carry weights, construct plants etc. This very physical activity and limited mental stress helped people remain fit and free from lifestyle disorders like obesity.  In today’s Knowledge economy, the workforce mostly sits at one place and uses their knowledge / mental skills to contribute to the business.  This happens at the cost of limited or NIL physical activities.  Today the corporate world is very competitive and this has led to work related stress, pressures of deadlines and peak performance at all times.  We do not have time to even think of our own health and wellness as everyone is busy thinking how to perform well at work and are putting extra hours at work and off work hours for the organization.

This very attitude of the working class has put the workforce at risk of lifestyle based disorders like blood pressure, cardiac issues, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.  The very fit workforce which joins a corporate at a young age and junior position turns out to be unfit and as risk of lifestyle disorders in few years and that too at a point when they are holding key strategic positions in the company.

An unhealthy senior workforce will affect the performance of the company as people carrying lifestyle based disorders with them are bound to spend more time on managing health, regular absenteeism and lack of risk taking attitude, which is the key attitude at a senior position of a growing corporate entity.

Corporate bodies need to take a serious note of this and provide wellness avenues within the corporate as otherwise their workforce does not have time after work to attend to their wellness needs.

Corporate Wellness is an extension of individual wellness.  It is implemented by a corporate for the benefits of their employees.  People working in a corporate – small or large spend most of their awake hours either commuting to and from work place or in the work place itself. They get plenty of mental activities in the office thanks to the competitive nature of today’s world.  They have to cope up with work pressures, meeting targets and other deadlines which contribute to ever increasing stress. Irregular food intake, irregular sleep, party culture including smoking and drinking related abuse compounds the stress and aggravates physical imbalance even further.  Nutritional gap widens and increases the risk of chronic lifestyle disorders.  People do not realize that this kind of corporate lifestyle causes chronic lifestyle disorders which are not reversible and the only way to avoid them is to prevent them from happening at all.

The risk factors leading to chronic lifestyle disorders are common to them all. If corporate wellness programs are not introduced at the right time, they will lose their valuable workforce and their top and middle management or key personnel may be operating from within sick or unhealthy bodies.

Contemporary Corporate bodies operate in a very competitive environment, where a single decision can make or break their business in a second.  Senior management and people at key positions including decision makers, strategists are required to be agile and take quality decisions instantaneously at times. Most senior management / key personnel are in their late 30s or 40s and are already at a risk of developing chronic ailments or are already a casualty to the chronic ailments. In such a case instead of focusing on the corporate challenge at hand, the mind is occupied in keeping the chronic ailment at bay. If they make critical errors or are out of action for a long duration, the adverse impact to the company in terms of profitability and productivity is immense.

According to a report “Working Towards Wellness: Accelerating the Prevention of Chronic Disease”, prepared by PwC’s Health Research institute and World Economic Forum, there is a growing need for the corporate world to take employee wellness seriously and provide corporate wellness programs as well as chalk out corporate wellness strategy to take care of the employees’ wellness

The first step is to make the employees aware of the adverse impact of their sedentary lifestyle.  If the workforce is not physically and mentally fit, it is going to adversely impact the performance as well as the bottom line of the company.  

I personally would advice the corporate bodies as “ You take care of your employees and they will take care of your profits”

Corporate world not only need retrospective wellness programs but also need proactive wellness strategies is place. This is because the corporate workforce consists of people of all age groups. At one end of the spectrum are the energetic and exuberant youths – fresh out of educational institutions. While at the other end we have the veterans – the experienced middle aged war horses who due to their sedentary lifestyle are either at risk of contracting chronic lifestyle diseases or are already a victim.

If the corporate is looking forward to obtain and retain its talented workforce, only looking towards their mental prowess is not enough. They also need to be physically fit. Their physical well-being ensures that the company can get the benefits of their energetic, focused and sustained efforts at work. An intellectual workforce performing in peak condition ensures that the organization remains agile and grows regardless of changes in the market conditions.

A corporate needs short term as well as long term strategies.  Short term strategy should focus on creating awareness among the workforce about the chronic ailments and provide instant relief if needed. This can include pre-employment health screenings.  It ensures that the corporate can keep a tab on recruiting unhealthy people into the company.

Long term strategy ensures that the healthy workforce employed by the company remains healthy for long. It can include lifestyle disorder based risk screening programs at regular intervals. The first step is to screen the employees for risk factors.  Follow up the risk assessment program with a structured program designed to reduce or minimize the risks.  Reassess the risks at regular interval to measure how far the prevention programs are successful.  The figure can be obtained in percentage or in number of employees.

The Corporate world has to ensure that they have appropriate programs to ensure that their workforce remain safe from chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis etc. Such programs can be created either by developing in-house expertise or by having strategic alliances with wellness experts.

Customized short and long term wellness strategy not only helps the organization plan the career path of a newcomer but also helps them maintain a longer and successful run at work. It also helps the corporate harness their Human capital optimally and get sustained benefits of their experience and expertise for a longer period.  

According to the “Working towards wellness” report, promoting wellness not only reduces indirect costs that occur due to absenteeism, disability and workers’ compensation but also increases overall productivity and work quality due to improved work performance.

Corporate not only gains valuable good will and loyalty from their employees but appropriate wellness strategies can reduce direct healthcare costs and improve the image of the company internally as well as externally and helps them choose and pick from the best of talents willing and eager to work with them.

Rejuvenation opportunities like a small health club, indoor games, pool tables, aerobics, health food junctions at office premises is something any corporate can easily provide for employees to help them spend some time unwinding and reduce stress at work.

Further, please await more information on how certain successful organizations have taken corporate wellness seriously and have ensured a fit and healthy workforce within…

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Winning the battle against Lifestyle disorders – one day at a time File your Health Returns

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mandeep  |  September 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Organizations need to invest in sustained interesting wellness programs rather than one of intervention. You have very aptly put the need. Corporate wellness is going to play an important part in organizations “Wellness” in business in times to come.

    Reply

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