Employers in India are beginning to take a more holistic view of employee health and wellness, going beyond physical wellbeing to include emotional and financial, according to the India Health and Wellbeing Study 2018 conducted by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory, broking and solutions company.
While a majority 66% of employers have already taken, or will take steps in the next three years to develop a mental health strategy, 59% are planning to offer programmes to support chronic behavioural health conditions; currently offered by only 8% of employers. Similarly, 63% already have or are developing a strategy to improve financial wellbeing and 13% are considering it in three years’ time. Towards this, 50% of companies are planning to deliver customised or personalised messages to help improve financial planning as compared to only 6% today.
The study found that in 2018, over 80% of the organisations have taken at least one action in the following areas—health risks or condition management; weight management, physical activity and nutrition; and, managing employee stress and mental health. While 61% have taken at least one action to improve the financial well-being of employees in 2018, it is a concern that almost half of the surveyed organisations still do not have a formally articulated health and wellbeing strategy.
Companies in India identified rising benefits cost and the lack of actionable data, appropriate technology, and employee engagement as the top four challenges in delivering health and wellbeing programmes.
Furthermore, employers ranked lack of physical activity (62%), and stress (55%) as top concerns about their employees’ lifestyle, followed by obesity (43%), poor financial wellbeing (27%) and tobacco use (25%).
Although tobacco use was identified as a lifestyle concern by 25% of the employers, organisational initiatives are more prohibitive than interventional, with only 8% of companies currently offering tobacco cessation programmes.
Companies increasingly embracing technology
Organisations are gradually moving away from one size fits all, evolving a more segmented and targeted approach with 60% of organisations planning to target individuals based on their health risks by 2021.
Technology is also being increasingly leveraged. One in three organisations already have a formal technology strategy in place and a similar number have developed a dedicated portal as a hub for health and wellbeing programs. Over the next three years, 67% of the companies will be using web and mobile-based lifestyle behaviour coaching programmes and 58% will be sponsoring the use of wearable devices for tracking physical activity or nutrition.
The study also found that although 82% of the organisations have started to provide regular communication that encourages employee safety and wellbeing, two in five say poor employee understanding is a barrier.