Ashwini Thakker

Strategies to Build A Healthy Workplace Amidst The Evolving Pandemic | Ashwini Thakker | Regional Director – Healthcare Management | Arogya World,

Ashwini ThakkerCovid affected the entire world, creating a mental, physical, social, and financial crisis and an immediate restructuring of the global economic order. The workplace, and workforce and indeed the very nature of work itself, were no exception. In fact, the Mckinsey report details how workers across demographic groups and geographies reported a set of challenges related to mental health, work-life balance, workplace health and safety, a missing sense of connectivity and belonging with colleagues, and concerns about job opportunities.

What did this mean for the workplaces?

Prolonged ‘work from home’ drastically brought in a significant change in the habits of the people. Long working hours changed to longer working hours with infiltration into our “me” time. It was a double-edged sword for the Companies as two critical concerns emerged in the Covid era:

●  Mental Health emerged as the long-term fall out from COVID
● People with underlying Noncommunicable Diseases like Diabetes,

Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease had worse outcomes from COVID infection

The impact of physical and mental health problems in the workplace became a concern for the individual and the enterprise. While the financial burden due to lost productivity and health expenses was expected to be significant for companies, reports show staggering impact on our country – around 4.8% -5.0% of estimated GDP loss due to NCDs in India between 2015-2030.

The strategy to build a Healthy Workplace

We know that COVID is unbiased and affects everyone irrespective of age and gender. It has reinforced the importance of building our immunity, eating right, being alert and agile, and minimizing stress by practicing mindfulness and specific breathing exercises.

It is appropriate to say that, to live a life that we love, we must love the life that we live and protect it from NCDs and other diseases.

Workplaces offer a unique avenue to healthy living. Out of the 1.3 billion individuals in our country, an estimated 537 million people (i.e., 40%) are available in the workplace.

An average person spends nearly 90000 hours in the workplace; hence, it is an important setting to prevent chronic conditions, occupational diseases, and injuries and promote health. Progressive companies have realized the potential value of employee health and wellbeing programs to the organization’s bottom line. The Core of our work is Chronic disease prevention through practices that promote healthy living.

The four pillars of our Healthy Workplace program are

1. Assessment – of current practices, work environment, infrastructure
2. Planning and Management – Review Leadership support, dedicated resources, goals & strategies, systems and communications
3. Implementation – support education and counseling, Policies, Insurance, Incentives, environmental support.
4. Evaluation – Productivity, Healthcare costs, improved health outcomes, organizational change

Over the years, research has demonstrated that workplace health and wellbeing programs can make a difference. Today, companies advise employees to adopt simple health measures to be physically and mentally upbeat. They have also invested in resources to ensure that such interventions are sustainable and scalable.  One such example is where we put together a compendium of responses from more than 25 organizations on how they have and are involved in managing and mitigating the effects of the Covid-19 crisis and what concrete measures are being taken for the future.

Today, mental, physical, social, psychological wellbeing is at the forefront for both – individual and the company. It is wise to partner with an organization that has developed and implemented the workplace health model rather than re-inventing the wheel.