Benefits of Corporate Wellness

In a chat, not long ago, with a Delhi based Captain of Indian Industry, he bemoaned the fact that Wellness in most corporate houses, especially in industrial “factory” corporations, workers still demand “oily, spicy gravy meals”.

A lot many corporations have a robust Wellness plan. But these schemes are restricted to health risk screening and assessment, mobile apps based nutrition counseling, illness management programs and the like.

But is that enough – Wellness that is influenced by illness management? Aren’t these reactive? In several cases, I noted, the plans are in place only because HR laws in the countries where company’s clients are located, require such schemes. In almost all cases, the responses were not proactive as they ought to be.

The Industrialist asked me to visit the Gurgaon based head offices of an international financial services company. He wanted me to see for myself the stark contrast in the plush lobby of the office itself: To my left, was an overcrowded cafeteria with employees in queues on queues waiting to ladle oodles of butter chicken onto their plates. On my right, a very well equipped, spacious gym with just a bored trainer, his nose turned towards the aroma of butter chicken wafting his way. A walk along the lobby showed bright standing banners proclaiming new “health screening” initiatives for the employees – I wonder if the employees could see these banners through the steam and smoke rising from the cafeteria food!

I am amused but not surprised by the contrast. The scene repeats itself across many, many corporate houses and industrial establishments across the country.

Without going into statistics, suffice it to say that a significant proportion of our urban Indian population is burdened by a host of hypokinetic diseases – in the main, obesity, diabetes – a newly coined condition “diabesity” is cause for concern – hypertension and coronary heart diseases, etc.

Hypokinetic diseases apart, today’s corporate managers have also to tackle debilitating effects of the rapidly deteriorating environment.

We all know the benefits of Corporate Wellness. In sum –

Employees across all echelons can maintain a healthy work-life balance

Employees especially in manufacturing (e.g. assembly lines) can prevent hypotonicity – unequal, asymmetrical strength and balance of the body leading to injury

Concentration and Productivity levels are increased

Existing medical conditions can be managed more swiftly

A whole lot of medical conditions can be prevented – medical expenses and even insurance claims can be reduced

Levels of stress – physical, mental and even emotional – can be reduced drastically. In the Bhagwat Geeta, Lord Krishna advises Arjun to master the quality of being “sthithpragya” (स्थितप्रज्ञ) – to be calm and composed under all circumstances.

Absenteeism levels are reduced

Anger management is swift – it required at all

Hiring costs can be reduced

A lean, self-confident employee with a healthy lifestyle better reflects the image of the corporation

Then why is it that Corporate India’s Wellness Plans have not met with the response they deserve?

I believe the reasons are –

Most senior management themselves are still to be convinced by the tangible returns on their Wellness plans offer

Indian work ethic is such that, for example, exercise and physical activities are not encouraged during “office hours”

Both management and employees underestimate the power of exercise and physical activity is not only reaping the above-listed benefits but also indirect benefits such as esprit de corps, team building, etc.

Management does not pay attention to proactive, preventive, fun-filled Wellness modalities – several corporate bosses told me to exercise and dance project a “casual image” of their organizations!

To me, the most critical factor why Corporate Wellness plans sit in a dusty corner of some “estate” or “admin” back office is this:

Not many of us realize the true meaning of Wellness – fitness in body and mind.

Fitness, through training which includes exercise, diet management, and performance nutrition, is the development of an energy potential at a level higher than what is required in normal, day-to-day life.

Fitness not just minimizes the risk of hypokinetic diseases but also actually prepares us to meet and overcome stress and emergencies. Fitness helps us ward off or better manage a whole array of diseases.

It’s a pity that Fitness is more often than not mistaken as mere muscle building!

In fact, there are 16 types of Fitness and there are eight general categories of training technologies that help us achieve any permutation and combination of the Fitness goals. Fitness goals delivered in a commercial gym will be the same as those that ought to be delivered in a corporate set up. It’s just that the priorities will change! In the latter case, management of stress, medical conditions including obesity will have more currency.

What must the Corporates do to introduce and sustain a meaningful Wellness Plan? We will discuss this soon!