The rise of corporate wellness to pamper and protect the workforce | companies

The corporate wellness it was a residual concept before the pandemic. Something secondary within the Human Resources departments. However, with the great lockdown, remote work and millions of deaths around the world, companies have realized the importance of taking maximum care of their staff. Not only in terms of their physical health, but also in everything related to their mental health, to avoid toxic work environments and to promote the reconciliation of personal and work life. Increasingly, corporate wellness is a central part of company culture.

To talk about corporate wellness, Five days has brought together various experts from the business, academic and associative worlds. With the sponsorship of Savia – Mapfre’s digital health services platform – this trend, which seems unstoppable, has been analyzed.

Arturo Bujalace, director of business development at Saviaexplains that the pandemic “was a slap in the face for all of society, and made us realize that we are fragile and that we have to take care of ourselves and others.”

The idea of ​​well-being was already something that was being incorporated into the best corporate practices before Covid-19, but the situation that was experienced in 2020 throughout the world accelerated many changes.

Armando Gómez Rey, responsible for well-being and occupational health in Department Stores of FNAC Spain, remember how they had to lead the conversion to remote work of the entire workforce. “It was essential to properly train middle managers, so that later the rest of the employees could be seen.”

All the aspects that come together in corporate well-being

  • Physical Health. That an employee is healthy is basic. It is essential for him, and also for the company. Occupational prevention policies are very important to avoid accidents at work.
  • Mental health. The pandemic and lockdowns have put this aspect of health in the spotlight. In the United States, for example, part of the movement of workers leaving their jobs is explained by having been in toxic work environments. Companies have to take care to avoid these situations, as well as work stress.
  • nutritional health. More and more companies have healthy food plans for their employees. Either in the corporate dining rooms themselves or with workshops and courses where it is recommended how to eat well. Good nutrition is essential for good health.
  • conciliation. The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of properly reconciling work and personal life. Organizations that have the best practices in corporate wellness listen to the needs of their employees and provide them, as far as possible, with greater flexibility in hours or presence, so that they can combine these two areas.
  • Diversity. Being comfortable in a job also implies receiving respect and recognition from colleagues. The best companies are very aware of the importance of avoiding discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation. In addition, companies that accept the different end up presenting an improvement in productivity.
  • Purpose. New generations of employees don’t want to work anywhere just because they have a good job. They also want their company to have a mission that contributes to improving people’s lives.
  • environmental vocation. It is also essential that the employee is aware that the organization is contributing to improving the planet and curbing climate change.
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Teleworking arrived, the extreme concern for health when leaving home and sharing a public space arrived and, although vaccines have ended up subduing the coronavirus, the changes that were proposed at the time in many organizations have ended up staying. Totally or partially.

Antonio Cruz directs the workplace and cybersecurity unit at Microsoft Spain. In his opinion, the hybrid work that has become widespread in many companies has mostly brought good things, such as the possibility of better reconciling personal and professional life, the reduction of emissions or the improvement of the ability to find moments of maximum concentration, “But it also has some risks that we have to try to identify and mitigate.”

Maria Ordovas.

“The regulations are going to start forcing all kinds of companies to report on these kinds of social issues.”

Cruz first cites the fact that with a hybrid job it can be more difficult to disconnect, working from home. He also mentions the fact that newly hired people have a harder time getting help from peers and superiors in understanding what the company’s values ​​and practices are. Finally, he considers that an excess of teleworking reduces the capacity for innovation. “We have seen that it has caused greater cohesion within the departments, but less interrelation with other divisions, which is impoverishing for the organization.”

Alejandra Nuño, sociologist and expert in business growthrecalls that companies are becoming more aware “that they have to try to take care of their people, and that means favoring that an employee does not have to cross Madrid by car five days a week when he is in charge of small children, or teach that there are more intelligent ways of producing, that try not to harm the planet”.

Antonio Cruz.
Antonio Cruz.

“We provide solutions so that what is happening with the staff can be observed in real time and thus be able to make decisions”

A definition

There is no unequivocal definition of what health is or what corporate wellness is. What seems more and more evident is that it cannot be specified only in ‘not being sick’, but that companies try to have a much more holistic vision of the concept, to really serve their staff well.

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Antonio Cruz, from Microsoft, recalls that studies have been carried out in the United States on what aspects are most interesting to employees when they are going to be hired. Of course, the salary is important, as are other social benefits (company insurance, a retirement plan, access to certain advantages in leisure activities…). “But other aspects are becoming more and more important, such as caring for people, seeing how you take care of me, my personal needs, my mental health…”.

Alexandra Nuno.
Alexandra Nuno.

“The companies
They are beginning to recognize that
in the welfare state
the common good is the one that must “preponderate”

To these three factors, two others would be added, which are more relevant, especially when it comes to retaining talent. And they are the sense of belonging to the company –feeling proud of the organization for which one works– and the purpose, “that the employee is aligned with the objectives and values ​​of the company and the purpose for which he works” .

María Ordovás is responsible for the Health and Sustainability Action Group at Forética (a business organization dedicated to corporate social responsibility). As he explains, in recent years, “the entire wellness, health and mental health strategy is being inserted more and more into the agendas of companies as one more part of the companies’ sustainability factors”.

Arturo Bujalance.
Arturo Bujalance.

“It is important that there is flexibility when it comes to seeing how to respond to the needs and interests of each employee”

In addition, Ordovás recalls that European regulations are going to begin to force all companies, not just the large ones, to make measurements on social aspects. On gender diversity, on salaries, on non-discrimination. “This is going to stop being something voluntary, to be something totally mandatory, which not only regulators will demand, but also investors.”

In his opinion, we are seeing a “genuine revolution in labor relations”, in which organizations are going to have to adapt “to put their employees more and more at the center of corporate life”.

Alejandra Nuño agrees with the analysis. “Companies have to begin to recognize that in welfare societies, the common interest is what should prevail. That is why a whole legislative framework is being developed to promote corporate well-being, and that is not only dealt with by large corporations, but also by small and medium-sized companies, which are 84% of our productive fabric”.

Armando Jose Gomez Rey.
Armando Jose Gomez Rey.

“We offer the staff the possibility of accessing services such as a chat with a psychologist or exercising at home”

However, Nuño recognizes the difficulty that some of these concepts manage to permeate even the smallest companies and the self-employed. “It would be necessary to begin by recognizing that all professionals must receive a decent and fair wage for their work,” he stresses.

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Data and programs

One of the great challenges in the generalization of the corporate wellness culture is how to measure the situation of employees and how to banish bad practicesyes Fortunately, technology is also an ally here.

“At Microsoft we are trying to provide organizations with tools so that they can measure what is happening in real time,” explains Antonio Cruz. “And I want to emphasize that this is not about measuring profitability or efficiency, it’s not that. It is about seeing if in a work team they usually send two people for coordination meetings, when that redundancy could be avoided. It is about seeing if a department regularly schedules meetings starting at six in the afternoon, making conciliation difficult. Or if a certain team works inexplicably on weekends.

Armando Gómez Rey, from FNAC Spain, recognizes the importance of gathering information in real time to develop the best human resource strategies. “In the end, the classic satisfaction surveys have the validity they have. They are a still photo. And the key is to be able to evaluate the policies that are being adopted on the fly, to be able to correct them if they are not working”, she reflects.

In the case of FNAC, they are offering the staff the possibility of accessing Savia’s digital health platform, to be able to consult with a psychologist through a chat, or access physical exercise programs at home, to stay in shape . “We are also developing talks on various topics related to well-being, which are being very well received by our staff.”

Arturo Bujalance, from Savia-Mapfre, explains that heReal-time monitoring of data on the use of its platform has made it possible to correct some problems in companies that have contracted it. “One of our clients detected that there was one day of the week that the use of the chat with the psychologist skyrocketed, which allowed him to identify some points of stress and work to correct them.”

Within this use of technological tools to improve the well-being of the workforce, the anonymization and securitization of data is essential. That the company only accesses aggregated data, without knowing which specific worker they correspond to. And that any information about your well-being is completely confidential.

One of the keys to this trend is the flexibility promotion. “Each worker may have different interests when it comes to deciding start and end times, or what days they can work from home, that is why it is important that companies are able to give each one the ideal response”, summarizes Arturo Bujalance . It is time for the employee and his well-being to become the center of the organizations’ priorities.