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Thinking ahead – Decoding employee benefits with wellness programs

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Corporates all across the world are on a quest to embrace major changes as the COVID-19 crisis continues to spread far-reaching consequences not just on the workplace but also on the workforce. One of the most prominent trends has been the increase in demand for corporate group health covers.

Thinking ahead – Decoding employee benefits with wellness programs
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed employers across the country to the brink. Apart from keeping the company’s culture strong while people continue to work from remote locations, it has become vital for employers to help employees navigate their health care benefits.
Corporates all across the world are on a quest to embrace major changes as the COVID-19 crisis continues to spread far-reaching consequences not just on the workplace but also on the workforce. One of the most prominent trends has been the increase in demand for corporate group health covers.
Almost after a year of COVID-19 outbreak in India, both the physical health and mental well-being of employees have taken the center stage for employers. Providing its employees with flexibility for health, safety and self-care has become the utmost priority for not just blue-chip corporates but for start-ups as well. From providing group health insurance that covers the costs for hospitalization to organizing vaccination drives, corporates across the country have stepped up their employee welfare game.
The Concept of Wellness Benefit
As per a circular issued under the preventive and wellness feature of health insurance by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), it is mandatory for all general as well as specialized health insurers to offer incentives to customers eligible for the reward points. To avail of the incentives and rewards, it is mandatory for the customers to rightly fit into the wellness program/scheme of the insurer. In accordance with the regulator’s guidelines, most insurers have started to reward their customers with a plethora of value-added services apart from the regular coverage at no extra cost. The primary objective behind implementing the wellness initiative is to improve and promote healthy living amongst the masses. The drive aims at shifting the focus of people from curative care to preventive healthcare. The core objective of wellness benefits is to form a safety net that protects people from major events of life – Death*, Disease, and Disability. Wellness benefits not just help customers stay fit but even help insurers maintain good financial health. After all - fitter customers mean lesser claims.
Prevention is better than cure
Wellness benefits or preventive healthcare highlights the concept of “prevention is better than cure”. In today’s fast-paced world, where lifestyle diseases are at an all-time high, it is important for people to understand the importance of staying fit and healthy. Promoting healthy lifestyles and implementing measures to stop people from falling ill remain the fundamental principle behind introducing wellness plans. Prevention remains the key pillar of modern health care and this must be followed with utmost dedication for best results.
Prominent Features of Wellness Plans
A corporate wellness program helps employees to stay happy and healthy while giving their best at work. One of the most important features of an employee wellness plan is Health Risk Assessment (HRA). This helps in assessing the overall health status of the employees and estimate the level of health risk throughout the company.
With this, the employers can offer feedback to the employees and at the same time promote ways to motivate lifestyle changes to reduce the health risks. Web-based Health Tracking Tools are very useful in tracking long-term progress and are a great tool to support wellness programs. Web-based tools also allow employees to track daily calories burnt, weight gain or loss, and monitor their progression. If needed, web-based programs can be customized to provide pertinent information to the program participants, including health tips and recipes for healthy diets. Many corporates through their wellness programs have also started to offer free or discounted gym and yoga memberships in an attempt to promote physical fitness.
Through many wellness programs, several employers also organize health coaching sessions on relevant topics that appeal to employees. This gives the employees an opportunity to speak one-on-one with an expert on important topics such as stress management and ways to live a healthy lifestyle.
Benefits of Wellness Plans
These days, apart from covering their employees under regular group health insurance plans, employers are also enrolling their employees under wellness programs/schemes that provide additional health benefits. Many employers are even using the wellness benefits/programs to retain top performers, motivate employees to stay fit and healthy, a way to attract high potential talent, and at last, minimize employee turnover. An employer-provided wellness program is one that has been customized and designed to support employees, and help them adopt a healthy lifestyle. The program aims at reducing health risks amongst the employees and improve their quality of life.
This will not only help to boost their productivity and enhance personal development but will also benefit the company’s bottom line. While some employers have their wellness programs attached to their group health cover provided to the employees, others prefer looping in third-party companies to offer and run their wellness programs for their employees.
The competition in the insurance market has also up significantly over the last decade and with this, the customers have many options to choose from. Employers may choose an employee wellness program as per the needs and requirements of the employees. It is up to the insurer whether they wish to run the wellness program for a specific time or until the group, health cover is active. It is not just the employees who are benefited from the wellness programs even the employers enjoy equal benefits.
While the participation of employees promotes healthier behaviour, enhances productivity, and reduces health risks, the money spent on wellness programs helps employers reduce health care costs up to a great extent. Many studies reveal, “Happier employees translate to more energetic and productive workers.” Moreover, participating employees in non-work activities organised by the employer strengthen the relationship between both of them. The most important of all is that the employees feel valued and appreciated when their employer invests in their well-being by offering a wellness program.
The author, Raghuveer Malik, is Head- Corporate Insurance at Policybazaar.com. The views expressed are personal
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