This piece first appeared in Business World.
In a world that’s flat, teams are operating further and further away from headquarters, often in non-traditional “offices.” India’s no different, with 58% of office-goers working remotely one day a week on average. Whether that’s in a coworking space, a remote sales location, or a good old-fashioned “work from home” set-up, telecommuting is here to stay.
In this scenario, how can health and wellness (H&W) initiatives stay relevant and accessible to all employees?
Overcome Hurdles Of Time And Distance With “FICS”
Offering annual executive health checks pan-company is a good start. Reimbursing remote workers for health-related expenses like gym or nutritionist fees is also a sweetener. But to truly engage, you’ll need what we at healthi dub a “FICS” for your H&W initiatives. Ensure your program checks these boxes and you’ll soon see an uptick in wellness engagement and improved metrics on health, fitness, absenteeism, and other markers:
To achieve this,
1. Have ONE Program Company-Wide: When you roll out an H&W initiative, be sure to offer some form of it everywhere and at all times. 24/7 helplines, podcasts on health and fitness, and video tutorials on exercise routines and healthy cooking can help you overcome constraints of time. Communicate on a common platform, launch challenges everyone can participate in, and track progress together.
The CAA Club Group, for instance, has a 15% remote workforce and an award-winning H&W program that blurs lines dividing in-office and remote employees. Their inclusive initiatives range from virtual yoga classes and a remote running coach to guided meditations on con calls and an active intranet. Since rolling out these, the group has seen a whopping 40% decrease in absenteeism from sickness and a 20% reduction of mental-health and short-term disability claims.
2. Compete And Play: Wellness, sadly, isn’t its own reward for most people. But competing and winning can be a huge motivator. As one survey found, 78% of respondents felt incentives were key to wellness program participation. 61% went so far as to say that was the reason they were taking part at all!
Principles of gaming can work wonders in a virtual environment.
- Lay down rules of play, enable social interaction, and offer up badges and prizes to spark competitiveness.
- Target things like steps walked or weight lost or roll out remote wellness championships.
- Don’t forget to have points for contributions by remote workers whenever you have an on-site team event.
3. Innovate, Share, Showcase: Enlist wellness champions from both in-office and remote locations to drive your initiatives. Together, let them suggest what will be meaningful to their context. Simple things like having options for healthy meals at remote locations can help with fitness. Webinars on mental or fiscal health can be just as important and well received.
Share updates, information, and success stories company-wide. Whether it’s a dialogue on mental health, tips on stress management, or an individual’s physical or financial makeover story, your people should all hear about it on the intranet or via a newsletter.
4. Engage Continuously: Working remotely can create a sense of isolation and loneliness, of being the “forgotten ones.” Continuous engagement instead of one-off interactions can help an employee feel constantly connected and cared for. Digital reminders or wearable trackers can help – Michelin North American, for example, saw a 26% rise in completed health risk assessments when employees received text prompts and reminders.
Regular bulletins or newsletters can also keep employees clued in. Draw up a schedule or calendar as you do with other business initiatives to ensure ongoing touchpoints with all employees.
Gear Up For Virtual Realities With The Right Help
In many organizations, the number of purely remote employees may be small. So, any engagement plan must be cost-effective and relevant to a wider audience as well. Online or app-based programs are location agnostic, offer uniform service, and can create a sense of community and bonding among the entire workforce without increasing service delivery costs or co-ordination. Wherever they are, employees can tap into the bouquet of H&W services on offer with the right technology:
And the ace up your sleeve? A good H&W partner, who can bring it all together, helping blur the lines between remote offices and headquarters using technology, expertise, and access to wellness partners, specialists, and nutritionists across the country. For instance, healthi facilitates smart health checks and assessments, enables follow-up, and organizes on-site and online consultations with specialists. We also use technology for seamless and continuous engagement with employees across locations so they can stay on top of their wellness goals.
Ensuring inclusiveness, constant engagement, and pan-company rollouts is easy with the help of a good H&W partner and the right technology, so don’t miss out on roping in every last person. As any employee will tell you, investing time and effort in your own wellness becomes so much easier when your employer has your back!
Krishna Ulagaratchagan is the co-founder and CEO of healthi, India’s fastest growing preventive healthcare company.