Employee Wellbeing For A Post-Pandemic World

Employee Wellbeing For A Post-Pandemic World

Building an organisation that fosters wellbeing is a long journey. It is often easy to get lost in the noise of initiatives and the utilisation statistics of wellbeing services.

The beauty of a conversation is the gift of new emergence and possibilities. One of our young management trainees, who qualified for complete work from home, recently shared his remote working experience. He seemed excited to be able to stay in his hometown with his parents. However, it was not surprising to hear that given a choice, he preferred to return to the office. He was missing the ‘fun’ and ‘feels’ and felt that work consumed too much of his energy now, even though he could choose his own schedule and no longer had to travel two hours in Mumbai locals.


His concern piqued my interest, prompting me to have an exploratory conversation with other HR colleagues to learn what lies beneath the surface. Associate wellbeing, Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, the list went on. As HR professionals, we often put these practices under the same bucket and fail to recognise the importance of wellbeing in creating a productive organisation.


Traditionally, wellbeing was focused on associates within the workplace – creating safe workspaces and providing them with physical and mental comfort. As we transitioned to the knowledge economy in the last few decades, more research was conducted into the area of wellbeing, and HR professionals started looking at the overall wellbeing of associates, both inside and outside the workplace.


The second major shift happened recently when the pandemic called into question the entire idea of what the workplace means and renewed the focus on wellbeing. There was a fundamental shift in the idea of wellbeing from being ‘organisation-centred’ to ‘person-centred’.


Defining wellbeing


As we shift towards thinking about person-centred wellbeing, we open a new paradigm in terms of the scope of what an organisation can do. The idea of person-centred wellbeing is derived from medical science and consists largely of physical, mental/emotional, financial, social/ environmental, and spiritual wellbeing. An organisation that wants to champion wellbeing must consider each of these areas when designing a wellbeing program that delivers results.


What organisations can do about wellbeing


When designing wellbeing programs, the key mistake organisations make is focusing on each dimension of wellbeing while ignoring the pillars that support it.



The top of the diagram shows the activities or initiatives that are most apparent on the surface. As we go deeper, the elements shown at the bottom of the pyramid ensure the success of the ones at the top pillars. Let’s take a closer look at each of these pillars and what organisations can do to make an impact:


Level 1: Outreach Solutions


Most organisations have a quick adoption formula and hence begin with outreach solutions. Outreach solutions consist of the different initiatives that organisations can take to address the Associates’ wellbeing challenges. They are inherently reactive, focusing on the solution rather than the root cause. The following are the typical trends in the outreach solutions that companies choose to use in areas of wellbeing:


1. Mental and emotional wellbeing: Counselling and therapy sessions, meditation and mindfulness, stress control offerings, and coaching around coping.


2. Physical wellbeing: Customised education/tracking programs around nutrition and sleep, virtual education about the science of exercise, gym memberships, telemedicine services, health-checkups, and company-sponsored healthcare packages.


3. Social wellbeing: Creating interest-based communities within the organisation, forums for informal connect, and opportunities for Associates to give back to society.


4. Spiritual wellbeing: Educational programs and interest groups for helping Associates connect with a larger purpose.


5. Financial wellbeing: Education programs and expert support/ coaching to help Associates make the right financial choices.


Level 2: Awareness


The primary criteria for an outreach solution to succeed is for associates to self-diagnose the challenges they face and then utilise the services made available by the organisation. Organisations can benefit from conducting a sense-check of their current awareness level and developing awareness programs that address each dimension of wellbeing.


The programs could include not just information on the services made available by the organisation but also the basics of wellbeing and how associates could take charge at the individual level. Continuous communication remains the key in awareness building, enabling associates to make a conscious choice.


Level 3: Policies and Processes


Any wellbeing program needs support at the institution level to succeed. There are two dimensions through which we can look at supporting the wellbeing agenda:


i. Policies: There are multiple factors organisations look at when building policies. Ease of understanding, fairness, standardisation of processes and culture remain key to designing a policy. In progressive organisations, wellbeing is quickly becoming the next important criterion in shaping policies to match the new normal.  


Wellbeing is not only about launching new programs but more about how the organisation does its business. Policies, practices, decision-making processes have a greater impact on creating a workplace that’s centred on wellbeing. Organisations can score some quick wins in this area by first looking at policies that deal with operational processes, such as workplace guidelines including remote work, administration, leave, and occupational health and safety policies.


A step up to the policies would be the experience created for an associate in several HR processes like interviewing, communicating rejection, giving feedback, performance reviews, off-boarding, etc. The gentleness and intent of these processes can go a long way in creating moments of an everlasting wellbeing experience.


ii. Processes: Research shows one of the most significant factors contributing to wellness in the workplace is the perception of job control. It’s interesting to see the co-relationship between control and stress. Organisations that successfully create more empowerment, improve decision-making processes, and increase the speed of transaction are more likely to reduce stress and negative emotional attractors, positively impacting how associates feel and contribute.


Level 4: Organisational Culture


Culture is the final pillar that holds everything together. No wellbeing initiative or awareness campaign can succeed unless people take an active part in it. The traditional belief that performance and wellbeing are at polarities needs to change, beginning with managers’ mindsets, as they are the first HR point of contact for associates. Here are a few mindset shifts to consider:   




One way to bring about these changes is to first generate these thoughts and then create associate awareness. Change starts at the top; leadership needs to hold conversational spaces to actively create champions of wellbeing. Leaders who become torchbearers of the culture are the true value creators in the organisation.




Building an organisation that fosters wellbeing can be a long journey. It is often easy to get lost in the noise of initiatives and the utilisation statistics of wellbeing services.


The key to ensuring sustainable change, both inside and outside workplaces, is to make everyone in the organisation a believer and champion of wellbeing. My wish is to see more organisations that create space for wellbeing to achieve business goals — and leadership that believes in it and walks the extra mile to evangelise a culture that puts wellbeing at the centre of all people and business strategies.





Nikita Panchal sees herself as an agent of transformation, and it excites her to constantly push the boundaries of consciousness in herself and others. She is a Global Leader with over 18 years of experience in organisation development, talent management, diversity & inclusion, and creating future-ready organisations. She has worked for TATA Asset Management and Motilal Oswal Securities and is currently associated with ACG Worldwide, an integrated pharma manufacturing solutions company, as Global Head – Organization Development, Talent Management & Development, D&I.


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