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Corporate healthcare is often a buzzword in the corridors of large- and mid-sized enterprises, while the smaller start-ups often tend to stay away from what they see as a costly and avoidable overhead cost-at least during their nascent journey. While start-ups are hubs seeped in a culture of innovation and flexibility, the paucity of resources is also a reality that they must accept. This is not just related to human resources, but also the paucity of time and capital available.
In a start-up environment, personnel-dependence is rather high. Human resources at every level have a key role to play and it is imperative that they be looked after to ensure long-term success of the enterprise. Thus, there is a definite merit in investing into corporate health programmes for organizations even if they are in the start-up phase of their evolution. Let us, therefore, delve a little deeper into some of the key facets of corporate healthcare in start-ups environments.
Driver of Productivity
Health is the fundamental driver of productivity, as it is the function of both physical as well as emotional well-being. Employees can perform at their optimum best only when they remain at the peak of their prowess physically and have no emotional distractions that take away their focus from their KRAs. Start-ups can also be high pressure work environments, wherein there are tight deadlines, long work hours and erratic schedules further adding to the health challenges.
Also, most start-ups do not have adequate cover for their key resources and health-related absence from work can hurt deliverables more than they do in large organizations. Given that health-related time-off for employees can be prevented, it is imperative that health of the employees remains a focus for the founders and management of the organizations.
Driver of Retention
One of the key differences of working in a start-up environment compared with a large corporate is the more intimate relationships it helps evolve. Between the founders, management and employees, there is a much closer and intimate bond, and nothing makes this bond stronger than caring for the health of the employees.
When employees see a sincere effort from the organization's side to take care of their health, it fosters a greater sense of loyalty towards the organization. This works as a counter to attrition rate and makes employees stay longer, remain more committed and deliver above their average productivity.
Driver of Engagement
A recent study by The Economist found a direct evidence that links employee wellness programmes to the engagement levels of employees with the organization. Employees tend to be more in line with organizational values and objectives, where there are employee health programmes as opposed to places that don't. Thus, it is amply clear that organizations with a culture of wellness and health can develop a work far more engaged workforce with a greater focus and organizational engagement.
Also, employees' engagement in the larger organizational initiatives is much higher, more informed and for a longer period of time compared with places that do not have a well-defined wellness programme for their employees.
Driver of Competitive Advantage
A wellness-driven organization competes better in the market as employees deliver better output, faster turnaround and remain more loyal to the organization. In our highly competitive marketplaces, with clients demanding more bang for their buck-it is imperative to gain every single competitive advantage possible for organizations to remain relevant. Organizations also need to compete harder to attract new clients and new talent to fuel future expansion and objectives; and unless employees remain at the peak of their prowess, these goals will end up being pipedreams.
Defining Employee Health & Wellness
Now that we have established the four pillars of why organizations need a culture of employee health and wellness, it is also important that we define what constitutes employee health and wellness. For a start, employee health and wellness is not just a function of the physical being but it must embrace the larger emotional-wellbeing as well. Some of the key aspects of employee wellness would be health and fitness, diet and nutrition, stress management, obesity and weight issues, mental health, and lifestyle attributes.
Successful Health & Wellness Programmes
While, having a health and wellness programme in the organization is good, it is actually more pertinent to have a successful one. And the key driver of success is the engagement and participation of the employees. Most organizations fail to recognize the barriers to a successful health and wellness programme and thus, despite having one fail to accrue all the benefits of the same. Some of the key factors influencing the lack of participation from the employees' side would be lack of time, awareness, incentives, trust and consistency.
Employers might find that a health and wellness programme that was designed for employee's benefits is largely utilized when there is lack of awareness and insufficiency of time for employees. There ought to be clear incentivization and employees must see a consistent effort to warm-up to the idea. Employers must also offer sufficient safeguards for privacy and trust for employees to open-up and participate without any cause for fear or discrimination.