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Health Is Wealth: How employee health took centre stage for firms

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If the first wave of the pandemic brought the hitherto largely unaddressed issue of mental health in corporate India to the fore, the second wave showed how crucial family’s health is to the employees’ overall well-being. 

The impact is evident with the definition of employee wellness expanding to include both factors now. Staffing and recruitment firm Manpower’s Senior Director of Sales and Global Accounts Alok Kumar says health benefits have become one of the selling points for employers when they talk about the company to the candidate. 

“Earlier, even employees did not take much interest in it beyond whether the family is covered. Now, they are looking at the specifics and whether their parents and spouse’s parents are also covered.”  

Also Read: Companies offer enhanced health insurance benefits to attract and retain talent

“What we saw with the onset of the pandemic was a need to amplify our focus on holistic well-being and not just for our people, but their families as well,” says Lakshmi C, Managing Director – Human Resources Lead, Accenture in India. 

The firm allowed employees to personalise medical insurance and add even siblings, parents-in-law and partners as dependants and extended mental health consultancy reimbursement for people’s dependent family members as well.  

While several MNCs say they began their mental health journey before the pandemic, the global health crisis intensified their efforts and forced other organisations to take up the baton, too. 

Mansee Singhal, Sr Principal, Mercer India concurs that she hasn’t seen as much reach out, group sessions, communication efforts, marital/relationship counselling and focus on self-care in the 20 years she has been working.  

In taking baby steps towards long-term measures, organisations are experimenting with a host of initiatives. ITC recently appointed a chief medical officer for employee wellness. 

Also Read: How Covid-19 Has Changed the Concept of Work, Workplace and Workforce

HSBC India and Accenture in India are training their line managers and frontline supervisors to recognise signs of mental health issues among employees even during remote interactions so that they can be guided accordingly. 

R. Swaminathan, Chief People Officer, WNS, says they have set their sights on joining a global nonprofit organisation that works on mental health. Without revealing the name, he says it requires WNS to be able to accommodate any employee with a mental health issue. 

The firm, he says, has begun a two-year journey to prepare its managers to be more aware and understanding of mental health. 

“We believe this will make us appreciate the workforce differently tomorrow. That’s a significant number of people in many businesses that we’ll be able to attract.”

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