Indian employers recognize that stress has a direct link to workplace performance and productivity, thus, a majority intend to increase focus on health and productivity (H&P) programs.
Globally, companies with the most effective H&P programs have 34% higher revenue per employee, according to the [email protected] Survey Report, conducted by global professional services company Towers Watson.
Stress is ranked as the number-one lifestyle risk factor — ranking above physical inactivity and obesity — by employers in all countries in Asia Pacific, with the exception of China, where it is ranked second.
However, when asked about which priorities were top of mind when developing their H&P programs, only a third (33%) cited improving the emotional/mental health of employees.
Only approximately one in three (32%) employers in India currently offer a program on stress or resilience management, though it is higher than the Asia Pacific average of 26%.
A massive 96% companies in India feel that H&P played a moderate to essential role in their organization’s health strategy and 3 in every 4 Indian employers expect the focus on H&P to grow in the next two years.
Leading the Asia Pacific markets, almost half (44% ) of the Indian companies plan to put in place a health and wellbeing strategy within the next couple of years, while 48% already have one in place.
“To translate this focus into tangible improvement in employee wellbeing and productivity and thereby financial performance, companies must identify effective programs rather than copying popular ones,” says Anuradha Sriram, Director – Benefits, Towers Watson, India.
Popular health and wellness programs
The most popular programs in place in 2013 are biometric screenings.
While almost half (44%) of Indian employers claim to offer health risk assessments, the definition of what constitutes one could vary greatly from market to market.
Onsite health programs are becoming increasingly popular with more than 2 in every 5 (42% ) of Indian employers in 2013 having instituted worksite diet or exercise activities, which is in line with the concerns raised around poor nutrition and physical activity.
Lifestyle change programs are not as prevalent, although an increasing number of employers are planning them.
Almost one in three (32%) have instituted stress or resilience management programs and this number is expected to grow with employers having ranked stress as the number-one lifestyle risk factor.
Reluctant to offer financial incentives
Indian employers have not yet adopted financial incentives widely, finds the report.
While 8% of employers in Asia Pacific offer cash as a financial incentive to encourage program participation, in India the number drops down to 2%.
Similarly, Indian employers are 5 percentage points behind their Asia Pacific counterparts in offering gifts as well as flex spending account credits.
Interestingly, 15% of Indian employers are considering the use of financial rewards from this year on.