Rohini Wwagh
Senior Vice President - Head People Function
Rohini focuses on HR strategy, talent management, performance enhancement, and corporate social responsibility at Nitor. She offers guidance on... Read More

I have been reflecting on the bygone year, as we are well into the new year 2021. Last year this time, in the first few months of 2020, none of us in our wildest of dreams imagined what is in store for us. A small virus appears out of nowhere and gains so much strength that it puts the entire world at a halt. A lot has been talked about the pandemic so far by many; its practical, philosophical and spiritual interpretations have ensured realizations to us humans like never before.  While we have learnt to live with it, the terminologies of the new normal & normal have been seen to be settling down. A chapter in history will certainly be dedicated to this pandemic in the years to come. Hence, the focus of each one of us has shifted towards fighting and preventing ourselves against the virus. During the pandemic we learnt to take care of ourselves, started adapting to a healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating home-cooked food, maintaining high levels of hygiene and focused on immunity building measures. Somewhere a wave of following the age-old fundamentals started getting prominence. Going back to our roots and adapting to the lifestyle, guidelines and rules followed by our ancestors came in vogue again.

On the other side, amidst the economic downturn and tight rope walk in maintaining sustenance levels in business, employers implemented many new policies to support and take care of their employees to cover the impact of the pandemic. Wellness now became a necessity instead of the good to have, ornamental activity. High level of sensitivity was experienced and we saw the employee engagement levels spiked up in the first quarter of the financial year with the exciting work from home model. People who were safe and sound and unaffected by the virus were enjoying the best of both worlds. Productivity went to the peak and customers started flooding positive feedbacks as they started to get more availability and bandwidth to support their own business sustenance goals. A seamless win-win situation was seen. Soon enough the number of COVID-19 cases increased and as they knocked the immediate neighborhood, terror and stress took over this win-win situation. By now the customer expectations had already increased and they had got used to the extended availability. Employees started experiencing burn-out, familial issues started growing and the charm of being around with family dipped significantly. Employers quickly changed gears and created a support system to cater to the mental health needs of their employees. Organizations and their Wellness strategy evolved as per the need over the past nine months. Now that we are seeing the situation will remain for an uncertain time, organizations will need a more mature, stable and proactive Wellness strategy.

Few organizations were on a much higher level of the maturity curve and had started on their Wellness journey much before the pandemic. Such organizations not only ensured un-interrupted business continuity but quickly responded to the needs of remote working and pandemic support situations for their people. They remained in control and became the trendsetters in the Employee Wellness space. Few others embarked on the Wellness journey post the pandemic struck the world. These organizations could fairly adapt to the situation but had to spend a lot of energy in implementing the policies. The others, who decided to take it as it comes and chose not to invest in the Wellness programs were perceived as opportunist employers with low people orientation. Eventually, as the job market started opening up, they experienced higher levels of attrition.

Close to two decades of my experience in the Human Resources space, I have come to realize that no employee intervention touches the people in the true sense by merely creating policies, the implementation reach is defined only by making it an integral part of the culture. A good Wellness strategy without a strong back-up of the people philosophy, management commitment and robust support of technology as an enabler is less likely to make the desired impact. The need to give employee wellness a key place in the People Strategy of organizations has arisen more than ever before. Few things organizations can do out of my experience is:

  • Define the scope of Wellness (refrain from taking up too many initiatives), identify what is the top priority for the organization. A quick pulse check will help you get the clarity on the areas to be worked on.
  • Focus on holistic wellness, let the coverage encompass physical, mental and emotional health. Promote wellness parlance in the organization, it will help boost the response and acceptance levels.
  • Define accountability, creating a role within the People function to drive the wellness agenda, it will bring in the required focus and responsibility and also attach accountability to the line management, for ensuring success.
  • Embrace technology. It will be worth investing in good wellness platforms and creating engagement through it, with the remote working it will act as a good catalyst in developing the culture.
  • Last but not the least, empanel experts from industry and seek their guidance and consultation.

These pointers are personal experience-based and have yielded good results. A recommended path for organizations, who intend to create depth in their Wellness strategy. Each one of us as we enter the new year with increased resilience, higher determination to fight against the odds with the hope that we will all value the existence. The precious gift of life is what we will preserve and become responsible for our own Wellness, organizations commit to offering care to its people through deeper Wellness programs.

Wishing you all an abundance of health and happiness from all of us here at Nitor Infotech.

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