By Lijee Philip

Indian companies are rethinking their employee-wellness strategies and customising programs to accommodate the tectonic change in people’s habits after a prolonged phase of working from home due to the Covid-19 lockdown and expect it will manifest in cultural shifts and personal choices, experts said.

Indian companies are advising employees to adopt simple health measures during this prolonged shutdown to be physically and mentally upbeat. The two main tenets companies are focussing on are diet and workout, while requesting inhouse doctors and nutritionists to chalk out a weekly meal and workout plan that can be easily monitored.

This is imperative as most employees are experiencing a prolonged work-from-home for the first time, which is causing behavioural and attitudinal change, experts said.

Clinical psychologists said that at this time, it is not advisable to earmark difficult initiatives for employees at home, especially as the strain of sitting at one place sans interaction with teams and colleagues could be demotivating. Calls and video conferences have only a limited role in uplifting the morale while working from home, opine experts.

“We are launching a series of activities for the wellbeing of our employees which would involve interactive sessions with a nutritionist as well as an exercise regime. A webinar on emotional hygiene is being done as employees work from home”, says Rajeshwar Tripathi, CHRO at Mahindra.

“Employees not only need to be mentally healthy but also need to engage in meditation/yoga to remain agile. A session this week with a clinical psychologist is planned to help keep mental peace when working from home”, adds Tripathi. The auto major is also tying up with external agencies for tips on indoor exercises as they feel despite it being just a few days into the lockdown, it can start taking a toll on employees, sooner than later.

“This episode will leave a huge impact on consumer behaviour towards health, food and nutrition. Many employees are stirred by the magnitude of this pandemic. Consumer habits will change forever,” said Rashida Vapiwala, an independent nutritionist who consults with corporates. She adds that health of employees will need to be taken seriously and not put on the back burner. “Prioritise health just as we prioritise our finances and financial security,” adds Vapiwala.

Some health tips include planning regular and small meals that keep employees energised, especially in a ‘homely’ environment. It is important to work on building immunity that comes with fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. A daily dose of Vitamin D from sunlight and not indulging in binge eating is also a must, corporate doctors said, and maintain that the immune system is the first line of defence that needs to be fortified at such times.

“Globally, we have rolled out a ‘telemedicine program’ to help our employees and their families with questions about their physical and mental health. They are also encouraged to seek confidential support from counsellors via phone using the J&J employee assistance program (EAP). Maintaining focus on their physical wellbeing is also important – we have digital mindfulness tools, virtual fitness sessions, home workout apps, access to health experts and regular knowledge-sharing to ensure they stay motivated, healthy and mindful”, says Emrana Sheikh, head of HR , India & South Asia, Johnson & Johnson.

Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motors concurs. “Not only is the health of employees monitored regularly, but a battery of doctors are constantly looking at their wellbeing. The employees can order medicines at homes and are given access to health experts to remain fit and healthy.”

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