Better secure than sorry

Health and wellness are priority issues for organisations today

By Anita Chhabria, Times Ascent 

The Health and safety of employees have got an unprecedented focus in the last couple of decades. Business entities have come to understand that people are the most pertinent asset to an organisation. Increased transparency in the reporting requirements streamlined a lot of practices and processes. 

Sunil Goel, MD - GlobalHunt India Pvt Ltd suggests, "In the current dynamic economic scenario, top companies are going through the talent war situation to grab the best talent. The investment done on employee benefits including health, safety and social security inclines the employee towards their work and companies are able to get better productivity. Investment on employee benefits not only projects the company as a better employer to attract the talent, but also helps in retaining the talent pool for a longer period, which reduces the direct or indirect hiring cost." 

Employee health and safety benefits

  • Medical insurance coverage
  • Cashless hospitalisation
  • Disability coverage
  • Fitness activities like Zumba classes, treks
  • Paternity / adoption leave
  • Safety drills and audits
  • Annual medical checkups 

The relevance and importance attached to health, security and extending benefits has undergone a lot of change. Erstwhile, it used to be restricted to basic sanitation, clean drinking water, sick leave, and prescribed working hours. Some companies had EPF (Employee Provident fund), retirement benefits and gratuity facility. Ahead of its times were companies, which had health talks and yoga classes. Benefits were calibrated to the job description, type and title of position, and level of total compensation. For the ranks higher up, club memberships or even CLA (Company Leased Accommodation) or VRS (Voluntary Retirement Schemes) were provided. But that was all there was!

Life being so fragile needs social, financial and physical security. To elaborate on a few prominent ones, companies today offer group insurance policies to employees by negotiating group policy rates with insurance companies at competitive rates and a wider scope of inclusion. Depending on the policy purchased, the family is also given coverage. 

It includes disability and life coverage as well. Financial planning seminars and workshops are arranged to assist employees in saving and planning for the future. Sandeep Dhawan, VP, Koenig Solutions Ltd shares, "Providing medical assistance for employees as well as their family members in the form of compensation and regular health check-ups are some ways through which companies can provide safety. Organisations maintain a 'Health Index', which helps in monitoring the health of the employees.  For physical safety, along with being equipped with proper facility to counter emergencies such as a fire or an earthquake, a company can carry out a self-defence and first-aid training workshop. Special considerations should be taken for the women workforce, for eg, organisations should provide them transport assistance if they are working late."

Wellness benefits 

  • Financial seminars / tax workshops
  • Counselling services
  • Relevant training
  • Flexibility options
  • Other discretionary benefits
  • Skill-enhancement 

Physical safety measures like security cameras, safety procedure demos, mock drills, emergency evacuation techniques and setting up assembly points are common among IT, FMCG, banking industries. Dhruv Desai, sr VP -HR & Leadership Academy - Angel Broking shares his views, "Indian companies are at a nascent stage when it comes to implementing 'disaster recovery'. The event might be something huge - like an earthquake or terrorist attacks or something small, like malfunctioning software caused by a computer virus. Given the human tendency to look on the bright side, many business executives are prone to ignoring disaster recovery because disaster seems an unlikely event." A voluntary and generally free of cost, confidential support service, which is designed to provide professional support and consultation to assist employees in meeting challenges on different fronts is vital.