By Varun Gera
With a surge in unhealthy lifestyles, increased cases of mental illness and NCDs in India the concept of workplace wellness has become pertinent. The market for corporate wellness, valued at $3.4 billion in 2015, is expected to reach $7.4 billion by 2024 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of nine per cent in the Asia-Pacific during this period.
Achieving a work-life balance has been a struggle for Indian employees, but company heads are realising that investing in employee health and wellbeing adds to the bottom line, and are now offering perks in the form of healthcare solutions that go above and beyond the insurance cover that was offered thus far. Companies today are committed to supporting the diverse well-being needs of their employees in body, mind and purpose. From focussing on weight loss, smoking, stress relief or even diagnostic care, wellness programmes are now aimed at employee engagement, over all well being that help enhance the employees’ quality of life.
Trends to watch out for in corporate wellness:
Personalization: With a rise in awareness about health, a one-size-fits-all solution no longer works for employees. Every employee’s journey towards complete well-being is different and as such requires customised solutions that meet their health goals. Technology plays a crucial role in aiding this customisation and also ensuring ease and convenience. Digital platforms can give a personalised view to the employer on each employee’s specific wellness goals and activities, their current health status, interests and preferences, and will also lead to higher participation rates.
Holistic wellbeing: Workplace wellness is expected to see a shift in initiatives and goals to support total wellbeing, instead of being a tick-in-the-box for employers. By total wellbeing we mean, going beyond the physical health of the employee and focusing on the full spectrum of wellness, including mental, emotional and even financial elements. For instance, if employees are in debt or are otherwise experiencing financial issues, the stress can reduce their effectiveness in the workplace, increase absenteeism, and ultimately lead to poor health habits or illness. A holistic, focused wellness programme that includes forward-thinking concepts on finance management can encourage healthy behavioural change in the interconnected areas linking them to the bigger picture.
Expanding benefits: Our current workforce is bearing the burden of a dependent population (increasing number of people in the 0-14 and 65+ years bracket), and with an increasing geriatric population, that burden will only grow. In the coming years, employers will focus on expanding their support towards child and elderly care, that will impact employees’ medical costs for years to come.
Encourage time off: Globally, research has concluded that vacations are essential to achieve total wellness, giving rise to an emerging trend to create incentives for employees to take time off. Currently, employees still worry about financial implications or perceived workplace pressure due to taking time off. However, in the coming years, more companies will encourage and even enforce employee vacation time, inspiring employees to decompress on their own.
Harnessing the power of technology to gain better access to healthcare in a fragmented market like India is a first for the country’s workforce. As technology continues to become an intrinsic part of our day-to-day lives, the advantages it offers will only multiply. Affordability and access have been pressing issues for India’s primary care industry for the longest time with little in terms of solutions for the average middle class Indian. With healthtech start-ups charging ahead with innovative and disruptive ideas that solve these problems, the healthcare industry in India is likely to witness a wave of good health in the years to come.
(Varun Gera is Founder & CEO, HealthAssure. The views expressed are personal)