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Employee wellness takes Centre stage as organisations vie for talent

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For a long time, organisations in the post liberalisation technology-powered world looked at employees as a replaceable asset. Behind this belief was a focus on profit and availability of ample human resource. This erosion of belief in human resource as a company’s most valuable asset has been a major contributor to the high degree of disenchantment prevalent among employees across industries. High attrition rates — the major bane of our times — are a direct consequence of a work environment that doesn’t invest in the wellbeing of their most valuable asset. 

Thankfully, a growing number of organisations are today realising the cost of treating people as expendable. The increasing focus on employee well-being as a centre of HR policies and a growing thrust on improving quality of life is gaining increasing priority at the HR agenda. This turn has not only been pushed by greater social consciousness but by the practical need for preventing a flight of talent and nurturing loyalty and commitment. 

In India, this movement towards employee wellness can best be regarded as nascent. However, there is a clear and visible turn towards initiating policies that take into account the employees’ comfort, their need for greater work life balance as well as greater stress on their health and wellness. 

Cost of disengaged employees 

If you think investing in employee engagement will unnecessarily inflate your overhead expenses, you have most likely never thought about the cost of disengaged employees! According to a Gallup survey, an actively disengaged employee costs their organisation $3,400 for every $10,000 of salary. This survey estimated that actively disengaged employees cause American companies somewhere between $450 and $550 billion in lost productivity every year. On the contrary, by increasing a company’s engagement by just 10%, profits can increase by $2,400 per employee per year. It is not difficult to understand why. Having a workforce that is disenchanted and has no passion for what it does will not only create a negative work environment, but will never give 100% to the organisation. They are essentially sleepwalking through their weekdays and just about managing to keep their jobs. On the other hand, employees who feel valued and engaged at their workplace enjoy being at work, are highly productive and emotionally invested in creating value for their organisations. Engaged employees are also 87% less likely to leave the organisation than the disengaged ones. Wellness programmes to improve life 

The need for better employee engagement has resulted in a growing number of organisations crafting dedicated wellness programs for their workers even if the business benefits are not always tangible in the short term. Wellness programs encompass a wide range of initiatives that promote a sense of physical and mental well-being. Such programs include offering healthy snacks, encouraging fitness goals, allowing flexi timings and offering a generous sick leave policy and work from home options, among others. 

Focus on health: Free fruit, anybody?

 One of the major downsides of excessive work pressure is health taking a backseat for most people. This includes both a substitution of an adequately nutritious diet by unhealthy junk food and lack of time for physical exercise. Health-centric wellness programs aim to tackle these two areas by offering healthy snacks at work and providing time and space for workout sessions. In many western countries, wellness-at-work promoters are actively promoting the idea of offering free fresh fruit and vegetables at work to improve the health and wellness of employees. A research conducted by the Fruitful Office, a workplace fruit supplier in the UK found that providing fresh fruit at people’s desks increases employee’s productivity by more than 10 per cent, boosts their energy levels and encourages them to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Over 75% said the provision of free fruit made them feel more valued while over 80 per cent thought this improved their quality of life at work.

 Similarly, providing workout equipment as well as promoting employees to exercise within the office schedule is another trend that is gaining momentum. Apart from making the employees feel more valued, these initiatives also aim to invest in having a healthier workforce, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

 Flexible work and happy ergonomics

 In a constantly connected world, employees today are rarely offwork. This persistent always-onthe-job nature of work burns out people and tends to overwhelm them further underlining need for a well-being oriented workplace. Seating ergonomics, biophilic design, abundant availability of natural light and a flexible office culture that lays minimal emphasis on protocols is the recipe for wellness.

 Allowing flexible timings and more work from home options enforces an environment of trust at workplace. It respects your employees’ personal needs and contributes to their overall wellness. Similarly, having a generous sick leave policy rather than forcing employees to join work in a halfrecuperated state is another vital element that makes employees feel valued, cared for and motivated. 

Employee assistance programs 

Human beings often need assistance, much more than professional assistance. This is the idea behind ‘employee assistance programs’ being offered by a number of organisations today. These programs aim to provide professional counselling services to employees who might be struggling with personal problems and motivational issues, with its effect reflecting on their work. The success of such programs however depends delicately on ensuring confidentiality as well as assuring employees of confidentiality of information they share. Interestingly, a survey commissioned by staffing firm OfficeTeam in the US found that as many as 73 percent of surveyed job seekers took into account a company’s health and wellness package while considering a position. In India this trend is catching up and is expected to gain more strength in the years to come. 

The writer is Vice President, Human Resource, Sun Life Financial Asia Service Centre. 

Educationally Speaking

HIRING ACTIVITY RISES 24% IN SEPT 2020 VERSUS A MONTH BEFORE

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Hiring activity in India rose by 24% in September 2020 as compared to August 2020, as seen in the Naukri JobSpeak Index. At 1755, the job index marked a great improvement of 24% in September as against 1413 in August after the sharp drop in April 2020 due to Covid-19. “The last quarter has seen significant uptick in the hiring activity, growing at 14% compared to 8% decline in AMJ’ 20. While the hiring is yet to touch last year levels and is down by 23% in Sept’20 versus Sept’19 but this is also a marked recovery from a 35%-60% decline that we have witnessed in the last few months,” Pawan Goyal, Chief Business Officer, Naukri.com The 24% M-O-M growth is being propelled by industries like Pharma (+44%), FMCG (+43%), Education/Teaching (+41%) and IT (+32%). Further opening up of the economy with unlock measures and increased mobility has led to an improvement in hiring activities in industries like Real Estate (+44%), Auto/Ancillary (+29%) and Hospitality/Travel (+48%) versus August’20.

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‘78% PARENTS NOT WILLING TO SEND KIDS TO SCHOOLS TILL COVID-19 OVER’

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The Unlock 5.0 guidelines allow schools in different states to reopen from 15 October depending on the state government’s decision, but as per a study by SP Robotics Works from last month named ‘Kids under Covid’, 78% parents are ready to skip a school year, but not ready to send their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sudden transition to online learning and prolonged screen time with no outdoor play and limited social interaction, the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown on children’s mental and physical health remains dubious. To arrive at the insights of this survey, SP Robotic Works conducted a survey over the month of July and August among 3600 parents and an equal number of children in the age group of 7-17 years

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ARMY JOBS: 191 SSC OFFICER POSTS VACANT, APPLY NOW

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Indian Army has invited applications for SSC Officer posts. Candidates who are interested can apply at joinindianarmy.nic.in. The number of positions vacant positions is 191 posts. Candidates can apply till November 12, 2020. Unmarried male and unmarried female engineering graduates, final-year engineering students can apply. The course will start in April 2021 at Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Opening date of application is 14 October, 202, while closing date of application is 12 November 2020. Candidates will be put through two-stage selection procedure. Those who clear Stage-1 will go to Stage-2. Those who fail in Stage-1 will be returned on the same day.

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JAMIA HAMDARD ADMISSIONS: REGISTRATION DATE EXTENDED

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Jamia Hamdard has extended the last date to fill and submit the online admission form to 25 October. Earlier, the last date of application form 2020 submission was 20 September. Candidates who wish to take admissions to UG and PG courses offered by the university can fill the Jamia Hamdard application form 2020 till the new extended deadline. Candidates must note that they also have to upload their qualifying examination mark sheet while filling the application form. Students who have passed class 12th exam can apply for its UG courses while those having a bachelor’s degree can apply for its PG courses. Aspirants can apply for admission to the university online at jamiahamdard.edu. This year, the admission process has been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic situation. The admission form submission deadline was extended as there were many students who were seeking admissions in engineering and diploma courses but were not able to fill out the forms timely

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EDUCATION MINISTER INAUGURATES NEW NIT ROURKELA BUILDING

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Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ inaugurated the newly built Golden Jubilee Building of NIT Rourkela, Odisha, on Tuesday through a virtual platform. Speaking at the occasion he said that NIT Rourkela is a premier institution of our country and has been producing the best brains for the country. The newly constructed NIT Rourkela building is a symbol of the varsity’s prestige. Pokhriyal said that institutions like NIT Rourkela have a very important role to play in the implementation of the New Educational Policies (NEP). The minister also added the building amplifies the glory of Rourkela city as it is one of the tallest buildings around. The magnificent structure is indeed metaphorically and geographically, ‘the heart of NIT Rourkela’, added Pokhriyal. The minister also highlighted that the vision of having this building will fulfill one of the essential mottos of the Institute to enhance efficiency in the administrative functioning and amalgamate technology with this process to make it more people-friendly.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE TIME OF A PANDEMIC

Narendra Shyamsukha

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The Covid-19 pandemic has turned out to be the most significant disruptive event witnessed by this generation. From mainstreaming remote working, cutting global travel to a comprehensive digital shift, the outbreak has changed the way businesses are executed. This transformational effect is not momentary; it is significant and is here to stay.

One of the most notable elements of this transformation is the way organisations have been forced to embrace digital marketing to be able to survive the crisis. As traditional marketing strategies stand curtailed due to the pandemic, businesses have moved quickly to embrace digital marketing and transform the way they attract and engage customers and clients.

As most people still stay indoors, malls and roads stand deserted, there has been a shift to a space where businesses and customers interact less physically and more through the online route. Digital services providers will tell you how there has been a surge in organisations seeking to create new websites or update existing ones, creating elaborate social media campaigns and launching new e-commerce channels. Intelligent content creation and SEO are other elements that are receiving a fresh focus from companies. Truth be told, organisations that embrace this transformation quickly and more comprehensively are the ones that are more likely to survive as compared to those who are resistant to change.

Here are some more changing phases of entrepreneurship are adjusting the “new normal”:

THE AGE OF WEBINARS

As live conferences and face to face engagement activities take a backset, organizations are working out new ways to engage with customers. Webinars have emerged as a very popular way of achieving digital thought leadership and getting quality leads. At the same time, customer engagement is also taking place with these digital discussions. That’s why there is a sea of webinars everywhere to spread the message. Even when the crisis ebbs, people are likely to continue to conduct a part of their thought-leadership events through webinars as more and more people realize that they serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost. Webinars that have now filled the gap of traditional conferences are likely to become a mainstream marketing strategy in the new normal.

INCREASED USAGE OF DATA ANALYTICS

In a digital age, data analytics has always been a valuable proposition. However, as organizations increase their digital presence, the importance of creating useful databases has only increased. With more people spending longer time on social media, their chances of seeing ads on such platforms or coming in touch with content marketing blogs are greater. This is why organisations now need to create valuable databases, analyse them and use this information intelligently to reach out to the target audience. Tracking pattern of consumer behavior, tracking online traffic patterns, analysing which content retains the customer, and getting a break up of which products are enticing what type of customers are essential elements of data analytics that organizations need to use more to boost their online sales.

CONTENT IS THE KING

Businesses must focus on expanding social media presence by creating intelligent and attractive content. With the shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, it becomes essential to engage consumers in subjects they might find interesting. However, it is important to understand that content distributed on social media should not be totally promotional in nature as it kills consumer interest. Your content must be knowledge and awareness-based. It must engage consumers emotionally through human interest stories rather than blatantly promoting your product.

The writer is founder & chairman, ICA Edu Skills.

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