Employee Wellness – Leading People and Culture Efforts

Author: Jitender Panihar
Date: Sep 28, 2020

As the world adapts to the new way of working, employee wellness has become exceedingly crucial for businesses to thrive and grow. And as most organizations ask their employees to shift to remote work, professionals all around the world are staring at larger challenges: isolation from the society, the overwhelming inflow of COVID information and data, and a sense of helplessness.

Although the shift to the remote work has caught up fast, it would mean different things to different people. While many of us could transition into this new normal remarkably well and fast, others struggled considerably. While some of us live with families and are busy looking after kids and home-school them, few others stay alone and are experiencing this complete isolation for the first time in their lives. Those living with elderly folks must be even more cautious not to contract the virus as older generation are more vulnerable. For most of us, including working mothers, in the absence of domestic help, having to juggle work, household chores, and raising children all at the same time is proving to be quite stressful. Though for many of us, work from home has always been a better option considering the travel time and need for flexibility, a lot of us are facing issues with reduced productivity.
This is the moment when employers must adopt a different perspective and take decisions accordingly that could create an impact in their employee’s productivity. These are the testing times for organization and its culture because the way it supports its employees would define its values.

Here are a few of the catalysts which could be instrumental in ensuring that the work does not act as an additional stress in employees’ lives:

Communicating more often
Continuous and transparent conversations will be the key for organizations aiming to ensure their employee’s well-being score is always positive. The personal touch and in-person conversations that had influenced culture to a large extent then are now gone and there lies an opportunity for ambiguity to creep in. Thus, there is a need to constantly stay in touch to infuse confidence in your employees.
Regular check-ins on your employees and their family’s wellness would be personal and the most effective way. People Operations team members and individual managers from the MoEngage team can have these conversations in a frequent interval with everyone. In a constant endeavor to understand our people’s opinion and feedback on work aspects, we at MoEngage have been running polls and surveys to gather useful insights which help us improve the experience we create for our folks and reach out with support wherever needed.
This is a leadership opportunity where each leader drives constant engagement and communication to ensure we have stronger teams and get through these times together! Being approachable, transparent, and engaging would be imperative to empathize with your employees. Town Hall or All Hands meeting every month to update business and organization’s performance and talk about the future focus would be a great hit when it comes to the feeling of togetherness that we long for.
Enabling your employees with guidelines to create a better remote work routineor sharing a trick or two to ace at maintaining low-stress levels at work, preventive measures to COVID or running remote meetings, etc.  would be a great way to keep them motivated and focused.
And most importantly, all your messages should be tied back to your organization’s core values to create a culture of trust and effective communication.
Digital transformation and technology adoption
Utilizing your internal communication channels and video conferencing platforms to collaborate to ensure business continuity. Since all of us miss our routine and are social distancing, we tend to not be physically active and miss out on regular workout regimes. However, thanks to the most advanced wellness technology platforms that have made life a little easier.
Corporate wellness partners like ours at MoEngage offer a range of options for fitness and wellbeing through webinars - Workouts, Yoga Classes, Meditation, Mindfulness exercises, Workshops on Eye-Care, Tabata, work out challenges, etc. They also have regular information around most recent developments regarding COVID, how to not impulse eat and maintain a healthy diet during the lockdown, tips, and tricks to boost immunity, stress tests that you can take sitting at home and many more such offerings. Employees also get call/chat services where they can reach out to or consult doctors/health practitioners 24/7. There are free online health check-ups for employees and their families as well. The programs also provide support for issues like depression, stress, anxiety and substance abuse.
Now is the time for organizations to spend that extra dime at wellness programs and platforms that they can partner with and create a holistic impact on their employee’s lives
Empathize with your employees
Companies must encourage employees to indulge in some ‘me time’ to de-stress and relax. Breaks are therapeutic and they promote mental well-being, which, in turn, can help them in their work. While a lot of us might think what the point is in taking leave since we are at home anyways, however, it is important to address the work from home burnout and take that break.
Policy interventions around mealtimes and mandated leaves should be in place, and companies should encourage employees to take leaves as they would do in the physical workplace.
It is now more important to keep track of your work-life balance and rejuvenate now and then. Initiatives like a No-Meeting workday in a week would go a long way to help your employees improve their productivity and help focus on real work without interventions.
For a global organization like MoEngage which caters to 4 different time zones empathizing with our employees would also mean respecting time differences and helping create the line between work and life.
Managers and team leads should now put extra efforts to understand the work styles of individual employees and respectively plan to address everyone’s needs and reach out with support wherever possible. You cannot expect anyone to be available on call at all hours just because they are at home, you should rather now enable them to structure their work and day according to what suits them best.
Creativity in Engagement
While we had typically spent around 9 hours at work, at times even more time with colleagues than with family and friends, now confining ourselves at homes might mean a crucial change in terms of our habits, lifestyle, and routine causing a lot of stress, anxiety, depression, and other physical and mental health concerns.
Engaging your employees more creatively, making the activities/initiatives more interactive, inspiring, and tech-friendly, and having rewarding contests around various themes would be an interesting way to keep your remote workforce engaged. Never miss an opportunity to get the team together to run a fun activity on a Friday or any other day!
About Author – Jitender Panihar is the Chief People Officer at MoEngage Inc., Bengaluru. He comes with a rich experience of more than 12 years of delivering change and transformations across Indian & APAC geographies. His specialties include- HR Strategy, Organisation Design and Restructuring, Leadership Development and Alignment, and Talent Management. Prior to MoEngage, Jitender has worked with major companies like- Healthkart.com, PwC, and Deloitte. A recognized professional, he has been named among the Top 100 HR Minds in India 2018 by World HRD Congress and Top 100 Training & Development Minds in India 2018 by World HRD Congress. Jitender has also been recognized as an HR Rising Star of the Year 2018 by the HR Association of India.
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