06 Oct 2015 15:36 IST

The importance of employee well-being

Since happy employees are more productive , Infosys has introduced health, stress, safety and leisure incentives

In recent times, the focus on employee well-being has become sharper as organisations understand that happy employees are directly related to greater productivity. Most companies today wish to focus on enabling employee well-being along three paths: learning, financial and emotional wellness. But they tend to face multiple challenges in doing so.

— The work environment today is largely desk-based and has limited opportunity for physical activity. This tends to impact food habits and can lead to lifestyle disorders.

— As most of Infosys’ employees in India fall in the 24-29 age bracket, they tend to feel invincible and don’t take health issues as seriously as they should

— Lack of time to pursue interests: The spread in cities and long hours spent at work and in commuting result in limited time for individuals to pursue interests and hobbies.

— The rising issue of “presenteeism”.

— Lack of awareness around the implications of an unhealthy lifestyle

Organisations, therefore, have to spend considerable time and effort in establishing initiatives that address the above issues, to ensure that their employees are healthy, productive and satisfied with their work-life balance. At Infosys, this is addressed through various initiatives that plan to tackle the above challenges while creating an environment to increase employee well-being.

Positive environment

The facilities provided can make a huge impact on the well-being of employees. A healthy and pleasant work space creates a positive environment for employees and has direct impact on productivity. The feeling of working in a bright office space with uniformly spread natural light and outside views is important. For instance, there is less stress on the eyes in a space with uniform lighting. Natural light also addresses possible Vitamin D deficiency, that many people working in indoor spaces are likely to suffer from.

A study from LBNL (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) says an increase in carbon-dioxide levels leads to diminished performance in employees. So, we ensure adequate fresh air in our buildings. Most of our food courts are naturally ventilated and surrounded by trees. Architecturally, our buildings have started becoming more sustainable. We believe that natural elements play a major role in creative thinking. So, we try to create spaces that bring our employees closer to nature.

Our campuses are lush and green, with local tree species. In some of our offices, work-stations that were typically L-shaped have now become more linear and flexible. Some of the plain-looking wall surfaces now have a story to tell through the use of printed graphics.

Creative expression

In addition, there are avenues for our staffers to express themselves creatively and pursue interests outside of work. Leisure activities help employees take quick breaks during stressful periods. The ‘fun at work’ factor is important. Organisations must encourage hobby clubs and leisure teams such as running enthusiasts and dance groups. InfyRadio, our internal radio channel, keeps employees informed about activities within the organisation while playing music to help them de-stress and maintain motivation.

An enterprise networking platform helps Infoscions connect with one another on topics of interest through groups and conversations that promote collaboration and innovation. To help employees focus on their physical health while spending long hours at work, there is a health club with world-class facilities in each of our campuses across India.

There are also multiplex theatres, bowling alleys, swimming pools, gyms, eight international standard cricket pitches, athletic tracks and basketball courts. Providing employees with the space and facilities to improve their health will go a long way in maintaining a robust workplace.

Health initiative

One award-winning initiative from Infosys that aims to address health-related challenges is Health Assessment and Lifestyle Enrichment (HALE). HALE has been a focused response to rising concerns on employee health and the impact of work stress on our employees and their families. It strives to improve productivity through healthy employees and has done pioneering work in the area of employee health (physical and mental), employee safety, encouraging leisure and creating a healthy work environment. During HALE Health Week, employees and their families get expert medical advice and medical check-ups at their office space.

Under a broad umbrella, HALE has the following niche areas:

Stress: Helping Infoscions evaluate their physical and psychological well-being, and get access to remedial intervention, where required.

Health: Promoting an environment to maintain a high level of fitness and health. Health packages and interactive sessions with specialists are available.

Safety: Aimed at creating awareness about precautionary and remedial safety measures to be taken at various times.

Leisure: Injects fun and energy into the lives of employees. Provides greater opportunities for work-life balance and helps employees lead fulfilling and multi-faceted lives.

In the last year, over 118,000 employees have participated in the various initiatives conducted by HALE.

Families too

On special days, we invite families of employees to come and experience the work atmosphere in the company. We extend the HALE initiative’s benefits to families too. Getting the family involved is an added incentive for employees to focus on their health.

Finally, to ensure that employee well-being is truly an important focus area for an organisation, the following key factors are required if the initiatives are to be sustained and grow over the years: commitment from senior leadership; institutional and financial support; clear focus areas; employee involvement; benchmarking, review and audits.

Each of these focus areas is crucial in ensuring that only the best is provided to employees. After all, not only is it a fact that happy employees make for a productive workplace, such fulfilment is essential to furthering personal growth and professional development too.