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3 ways to rethink existing employee wellness programmes

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

By Padmapriyadarshini

A Mint article published in September 2022 highlights that the corporate health and wellness market in India stands at a whooping INR 55,000 crore, and the country’s corporate health insurance market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20% to reach INR 65,000 crore by FY25.

These statistics reveal to us one thing: Companies are willing to spend on employees’ health.

This is because healthy employees equal higher productivity, and corporate wellness programmes create a win-win situation for companies and employees.

What do the current corporate programmes cover?

Companies have implemented various health and wellness programmes such as providing health insurance, health check-ups, fitness memberships and even telemedicine consultation and vaccination after the novel coronavirus took the world by storm.

Companies also provide various mental health interventions from conducting online yoga, one-on-one anonymous counselling, and meditation sessions to sending mental health-related posts and tips to employees, helping them stay in the pink of their health.

According to a Times of India article published in September 2022, companies such as KPMG, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, and others have provided extra leaves for employees to rejuvenate and take care of themselves.

Despite companies’ huge spending on employees through various programmes, mental health issues have been steadily increasing in India. According to a 2017 WHO report, 7.5% of Indians suffer from mental health disorders and the number is expected to only increase.

While the existing programmes sound great, we need to rethink them to create a more positive and long-lasting impact on employees.

Here’s why:

In most situations, employees tend to prioritise an urgent deliverable over a non-mandatory online meditation class. Even if the company has a recording to watch later, I doubt how many have the time and energy to invest. Personally, in my career, I did not attend any of the wellness events even though the management flooded my inbox with various activities, tips and so on.

This is exactly why we need to do much more to truly enhance employee well-being.

Here’s how:

Address the elephant in the room: Mental health stigma

A 26-year-old professional from a top FMCG company fears disclosing mental health issues to her immediate manager if diagnosed with one due to judgments and impacts on her career growth. Another 24-year-old professional working in a Bengaluru-based MNC says she will remain silent as the information can be misused or disclosed.

However, a 30-year-old digital marketer dares to disclose as he believes that it will be a sheer test of a company’s character, while another says that managers don’t care. Then what’s the point?

The views are mixed, but it brings a key message to the surface. We must have conversations around these topics and create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing what they’re going through. We should normalise mental health issues and create compassionate discussions around them.

Manoshala offers Mental Health Sensitization Training for Managers to increase their awareness about common mental health issues and how to offer support to team members.

Go beyond presentations!

Most companies use conventional PPTs to conduct sessions on stress management, anger management and so on. However, employees may forget or fail to implement the strategies from the sessions in the long run. The one-way street approach doesn’t actively engage employees, leading to disengagement and boredom. Hence, companies must adopt different means to convey their message for a greater impact on employees’ minds and hearts.

Studies such as the Influence of Music Therapy on Coping Skills and Anger Management in Forensic Psychiatric Patients and Music Therapy and the Resettlement of Women Prisoners have shown that music therapy is efficient in managing anger issues. By actually taking action such as playing a musical instrument for 30-40 minutes or painting something, employees’ can be present in the moment, lower their stress levels and notice positive changes.

Manoshala conducts workshops on music therapy and other creative therapies using art, movement, and drama to overcome everyday stress and burnout at the workplace. In addition to managing stress, the workshops can help in fostering trust, bonds, and communication within teams. All the workshops are interactive, fun and are led by top experts.

We at Manoshala offer unique alternate art therapies that harness the power of non-verbal communication to improve employees’ holistic well-being.

Find unity in diversity!

Although the Supreme Court scrapped Section 377, making same-sex relationships legal, people in the LGBTQ community are subjected to the scorn of others and face social rejection.

The results from the 2019 YouGov-Mint Millennial Survey conducted with 5,000+ respondents across different age groups in 180 cities indicate that less than half of Indian youth are in approval of same-sex relationships. Though the acceptance rate is better in Delhi-NCR followed by Mumbai, it is not widely accepted in Southern India - Chennai reporting the lowest rate of acceptance.

People from the community already undergo identity crisis-related problems, and a further lack of love and acceptance from others makes them vulnerable to depression and suicide.

It will be a catalyst for change if at least corporate offices start to offer safe spaces and open up a room for discussion. Having diverse team members can have myriad benefits for the company and can even create a competitive advantage in the long run.

The important question to ask is: How often do you conduct dialogues around LGBTQ issues?

Manoshala offers Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion training to help companies understand the diverse groups present, their challenges, and how to address them to provide an environment of safety and acceptance. Using drama therapy, Manoshala aims to increase awareness and extend support to the LGBTQ community.

We have conducted various workshops for Sony, Escorts Limited, Core Diagnostics, Fakeeh University, Primed Talent, Bharati College, and so on to help in their employee wellness programmes.

Final Notes:

Companies already have some form of wellness programme in place. Now, it is important to delve deep into the intricate layers in implementation to understand what’s working and what’s not. Numbers may explain the magnitude of mental health issues, but they can be fully understood only by creating a safe and caring space full of love, compassion, and acceptance.


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