Organisations these days have a diversified mix of generations in their workforce. With each generation being in a different stage of life, their needs and circumstances vary. Therefore, it makes sense for organisations to now focus on differentiating their wellness initiatives for different work groups — to be able to provide a healthy, engaging and happy work experience. Although it sounds easy, it takes a lot of effort and planning to customise the wellness programmes to suit various needs.
Kameshwari Rao, vice president- people strategy, Sapient India, shares with HRKatha how Sapient tailors its wellness initiatives to suit the needs and expectations of different employees. Rao says, “Our organisation’s wellness initiatives are based on the concept of integrated wellness, which encompasses holistic wellbeing for our employees.”
To begin with, the programme covers all aspects of wellness (physical, nutritional, emotional and financial) and also cater to the needs of millennials, and specific work groups such as women, young parents, differently-abled, new hires and people with personal situations.
Rao adds, “Fitness is a way of life and needs constant attention. Our people can opt for multiple wellness programmes such as, weekly yoga, quarterly webinars, ongoing counselling, daily physiotherapy, which contribute to their personal wellness. We host regular events to bring people together, to share ideas and solutions and celebrate wellness as a culture.”
To cater to the needs of people from different life stages, first their needs, issues and expectations have to be assessed. This requires effort from the human resources department of an organisation. To assess these needs, Sapient conducted a few researches among the different workgroups. One of these— a 2015 survey with IMRB that assessed the millennials— revealed that most millennials weighed monetary benefits and steady growth over other benefits and a majority of their concern was ‘parental care’. Taking cue from this, the company has been conducting special workshops for millennials on wellness financial management and parental care.
To meet the physical needs for wellness, Sapient has the usual on-site health checks and other medical facilities. In addition, there are focussed EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) workshops catering to the emotional needs. Rao shares, “People are more open to seeking emotional help from the counsellors now as compared to a few years ago.” About 50 per cent of the people at Sapient have registered on the EAP portal with self-development, marriage and relationships being the top three issues faced, accounting for 68 per cent of cases. A total of 290 counselling services have been availed in 2016 including the quarterly onsite counselling at Sapient.
“The programme covers all aspects of wellness (physical, nutritional, emotional and financial) and also cater to the needs of millennials, and specific work groups such as women, young parents, differently-abled, new hires and people with personal situations.”
Sharing the scope of the emotional wellness initiatives, Rao further says, “We recently conducted emergency protocol training to equip leaders to detect early signs of depression, emotional weakness and suicide, and to make them understand their responsibilities in mitigating the same.” Additionally, for ensuring nutritional wellness, Sapient organises dietician talks and has an online dietician to assist people with their needs. It also organises financial planning sessions with experts who raise financial awareness amongst its people.
In terms of how employees perceive these initiatives, Rao says, “The value proposition of our benefits lies in the feeling of being cared for.” However, from an employee point of view, Sapient has been conducting regular engagement and value proposition surveys to gauge this, with consistent positive responses. “Besides, the number of appreciative comments on our internal communications platform called Vox on a daily basis, gives us real-time feedback. The increase in the uptake of the programmes/facilities is another indication of the value received by our employees. Since most of our wellness programmes are co-created by people, the value proposition and the impact automatically increases for them,” Rao shares.
84 per cent of the people at Sapient were impacted by the wellness initiatives in 2015 with a significant decline in health risks across different parameters. The overall increase in engagement and active participation in the wellness initiatives has also been noteworthy. There was a seven per cent improvement in nutritional risks, five per cent in sedentary lifestyles and acute infections, three per cent in respiratory, cardiac and digestive disorders and a two per cent improvement in stress caused by smoking or alcohol.
Considering the special needs of expecting and returning mothers, Sapient also has some special programmes in place to ease out the transitions and returns before and after the maternity breaks. “Where most women drop out from their careers during or after their maternity, 71 per cent of new mothers have returned to Sapient over the last four years,” Rao opines.
Ritu Gupta, senior technologist, SapientNitro, is one of the new mothers who returned to work after the maternity break. She shares her experience about how Sapient helped her overcome her apprehensions in returning to work with a baby to take care of. She says, “Post delivery I was worried about joining office since I didn’t have the support at home and was reluctant to leave my baby in a crèche. I searched for many options, which Sapient provides to new moms but after reading policies, I was not too sure how to avail them. With support from the People Success team and regular connect with supervisors, I was able to manage and streamline my work well.”
With such success stories of healthy, engaged and satisfied employees, Sapient is constantly enhancing its approach to wellness for the workforce. It is with the support of the leadership that such programmes really make a difference. As Rao says, “A leader’s connect with people is a wonderful platform to enhance the reach and efficiency of wellness initiatives. Our leaders lead by example and actively blog about wellness issues. This helps people relate with their personal experiences and motivates them to be part of our wellness programmes.”