Prakriti Poddar has been working in the area of Mental Wellness since 2000. A Mental Health Entrepreneur, with a passion for innovation in the ecosystem. She mothers three organizations in this space, apart from her consulting practice. Boutique Mental Health services are offered through her center Mind Over Image Consulting, where she houses clinical psychologists, various therapists, neurofeedback and personalised life coaching services. Having recruited the best practitioners in the field, her boutique mental well-being integrated platform provides unmatched solutions along with escalated psychiatric tie-ups when needed.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has once again shifted our attention to the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the need to promote healthier habits, be it at home or in the office. Corporate wellness programs that focus on improving employee health and engagement are also becoming a top priority for organisations as there’s a renewed interest in employee safety, wellness and culture.
With virtual programs and remote resources expected to play a critical role in business operations over the months to come, HR managers are refocusing their wellness strategies around the ‘new’ normal. It’s now more important than ever to consider how the pandemic has changed what employees require and anticipate from corporate wellness programs.
Why Corporate Wellness Programs are the Need of the Hour
There’s no denying the fact that the pandemic has disrupted our lives in unprecedented ways. According to a study, more than seventy per cent of workers in the United States have described the COVID-19 pandemic as a significantly stressful time in their careers. From experiencing financial stress, getting pay cuts, losing a loved one to the COVID infection to juggling virtual work with home responsibilities, the pandemic has taken a severe toll on employees ‘physical and mental health. As a result of these changes, HR managers need to approach corporate wellness programs with a revived focus to create a win-win situation for both the employees and the employer. After all, investing in the well-being of employees promotes a healthy work culture. When an employee witnesses improvement in physical and mental health, it enhances their productivity, which improves organisational finances and offers a better corporate reputation.
Revamping Wellness Initiatives in a Post COVID World
For employers who are already dealing with a host of new challenges related to remote, hybrid or newly back to office working arrangements, it has become re-evaluate their corporate wellness programs, with more focus on these 3 key areas:
Holistic Wellness Programs
The pandemic has created the need for wellness programs to be well-rounded, comprehensive to address the overall health of an employee. Though previous to the pandemic, traditional corporate wellness programs did start to pay greater attention to emotional wellness apart from physical wellness but it has now exploded. With new realities of work, blurred lines between home and work and new stressors, supporting mental wellness is the key to a holistic wellness program that takes care of every aspect of employee well-being and drive positive outcomes. Also, workplace wellness in a post COVID world is expected to pay more importance towards the management of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. In their wellness offerings, employers need to provide more proactive initiatives, such as on-site fitness classes, exercise breaks, tobacco-cessation programs, gym memberships and food wellness programs.
Flexibility Remains the Key
The crucial thing to remember is that the pandemic is not over and the chances of another wave is a looming threat for businesses and economies around the world. To be at par with the evolving situation, employers need agile wellness strategies which can be scaled down or up easily over time. Even though the workforce of an organisation may be geographically or physically dispersed, this is the time when employers have to be closer to their employees than ever before. Employers can use data from surveys and resulting insights in order to respond to changing needs of employees (e.g., need for financial aid, support for caregiving duties, etc.) in an agile way and drive further improvements in employee experiences.
Round the Clock Support
In the post COVID world, companies need to be able to care for different categories of workers like:
- Newly remote employees
- Regular remote employees
- Employees working on-site
- Employees who are unable to work due to different reasons
As a result, many virtual workers will not get access to onsite corporate wellness programs. Thus, employers can leverage virtual platforms and applications to offer personalized wellness solutions, including yoga classes, fitness classes and other health packages to all regardless of where employees work. By investing in wearable devices and mobile platforms, employers can also allow employees to track their health and take steps to mitigate their health risks.
The pandemic has revealed several gaps in corporate wellness strategies that employers can bridge to enhance employee health and wellness. With many employees working remotely and finding it hard to cope with the economic and mental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers will need to bring in changes in their wellness programs to empower employees to better cope with the crisis and reduce health risks amid the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.