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Sudhir Shenoy

Sudhir Shenoy is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Dow Chemical International Pvt. Ltd (Dow India) located at the company headquarters in Mumbai, India.

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Health and Wellbeing of Employees Paramount to Company Strategy

My firm belief is that a healthy workforce is vital for the growth of the company, the industry and the country.

We are increasingly seeing a trend of office-goers pedalling to work. During breaks in the workday, I often see individuals taking brisk walks in the parking lot, to unwind as well as to boost their metabolism. Marathons, my personal favourite, are no longer a fad, they now seem to be a way of life for many. All of these are very encouraging developments, indicating that people are more aware of their personal well-being and are making efforts to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

My firm belief is that a healthy workforce is vital for the growth of the company, the industry and the country. The physical health and mental wellbeing of an employee is directly linked to not only their productivity and output at work, but also to their personal fulfilment.  

Employer’s role health started as fitness for duty, safety and positive behaviour adoption drive during the industrialization era. This was geared towards the handling of heavy machinery, and chemicals. Use of personal protection equipment and change in technology served to mitigate these risks among blue-collared workers. As the world became more connected and work ecosystems evolved, so did the health risks. Airconditioned offices which tie people to desks, often for long hours, are creating a significant burden of lifestyle-related diseases, including type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. I am sure you’ve heard that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ – while the phrase may seem exaggerated the health risks are not.

Holistic Advantage: In India, the overall inflation is around 5%, however healthcare inflation is around 18-20% i.e. four times higher. The cost of keeping employees healthy is lower than the direct and indirect costs associated with disease management. While each company’s strategy may be different, the common theme of investment in employee health comes through loud and clear. Companies are beginning to realize the impact of employees’ health and well-being on business performance – as measured by metrics like alignment with company goals, better customer service levels, reduction of business costs, all leading up to both profitability and growth. Collectively these initiatives further employee engagement and loyalty, and help in attracting, hiring and retaining the best talent in the industry.

Transitioning from Sporadic Interventions to Cultural Shifts: Just as eating junk food once in a while does not have an adverse impact on our bodies, similarly a yoga session once in a quarter too will not have an impact on overall wellness. Companies that have the most success with workplace wellness adhere to long-term and sustainable wellness programs, as opposed to occasional activities. They also encourage cohorts to create buy-in and adoption of the new habits. Health and wellness management today need to be inclusive enough to address the needs of all employees - from those that are fit and healthy to those who are at risk for chronic conditions, to learning how to make stress a positive lever. 

Merit in Measurement: Employers who lead in workplace health start by developing a comprehensive strategy that is based on best practices and is integrated with their business strategy. Employee health organizations and benefits consulting firms have developed “wellness scorecards” that help employers assess and design workplace wellness programs. Employers who lead in workplace health start by developing a comprehensive strategy that is based on best practices and is integrated with their business strategy. However, more important than the specific program design is the mind-set of leaders, and the acknowledgement that taking responsibility for your people, setting a personal example and driving a wellness culture is no more optional.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house



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