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Wellness Programme: A Misnomer?

Wellness Programme: A Misnomer?

Employee wellness is best managed when our focus shifts back to fundamentals, and thereby, simplifying the HR policies, where employees are driven by their deliverables and not control mechanism.

 

In an intense football tournament, the knockout stage overwhelms the players and there is constant pressure to perform in every match and emerge victorious. Here, the coach plays an important role and the team adapts on the basis on his style.

 

Now, picture a corporate environment where at the end of the day what matters is to ‘close the sale’, so much so that the persons incharge of sales skip their meals, work long hours, and yet, manage to maintain a relationship with their respective customers. According to a write-up in Time1 (2019), workers in the Amazon warehouse in Minnesota alleged that they are being treated like robots and were hardpressed to meet delivery targets. This happened largely because workers’ transaction is managed by technology, and are hence competing with technology to match up to its expectations and efficiency level.

 

 

Closer home, a couple of years ago, a food aggregator’s delivery person was notoriously caught on camera taking a bite of the food meant to be delivered. The clip created quite a stir on social media, making the aggregator to come forward with an official statement on Twitter. The actions of the delivery person were completely outrageous since it cast doubts on the aspects of hygiene being followed by the organisation. However, the COVID-19 pandemic single-handedly made companies and customers to be more hygiene conscious and made us realise that most of the tasks can be done without setting foot into the company’s premises.

 

 

Homogeneous tasks such as factory production aside, jobs involving knowledge sharing and business intelligence, mostly require brains to prick together that may or may not be confined to a physical space. Work From Home (WFH), once considered a privilege, is now a norm, hinting that it requires a strong mandate for us to re-think our work engagement. Seemingly, employee wellness has been the buzzword to keep employees fit and fine, so that the organisation and the country collectively have a healthy workforce. It is perhaps logical to consider that being unfit adds to the collective stress of employees, so employee wellness does matter.

 

Let us now re-think and ask ourselves, when we have better access to technology, resources and health care, employee wellness becomes an area of concern. To an extent, the answer lies in developing exuberant HR policies to keep up in the talent market, that we seldom pay attention to basics. In a high paced corporate environment, getting leave becomes a challenge, since it is maintained that ‘leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right’. Since the ancient days, as envisioned by Adam Smith, ‘work’ is often termed as an economic transaction. Hence, in practice, no one, by virtue of earning and providing salary is to be understood to be conducting charity in any form. We exist to perform apart from everything else in economic terms. So, when transactions are mechanised, overt human relations force itself into economics, thus, making human relations symbolic. Symbolism, on the contrary, has proliferated on a much higher scale due to social media. E.g. health or fitness challenges meant for employees are often broadcasted through their social media platforms, much to the fanfare of hashtags/views/trends.

 

Employee wellness is best managed when our focus shifts back to fundamentals, and thereby, simplifying HR policies, where employees are driven by their deliverables and not control mechanism. Where employees may choose to customise their work schedule, where they are given ample time for themselves and their family, and where there is no restriction on physical space of work execution. If not, employee wellness programmes become misnomer since intense work pressure and clocking long-hours is beyond the control of employees.

 

 

1 Time (2019). I Worked at an Amazon Fulfillment Center; They Treat Workers Like Robots. Retrieved on June 19, 2020 from https://time.com/5629233/ amazon-warehouse-employee-treatmentrobots/

 

 

Mrinmoy Majumder teaches courses on people strategy and industrial relations. He can be reached on [email protected]

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