How do wellbeing programs differ around the world?
14 July 2019 / Workplace wellbeing
At the recent Lockton Benefits forum in Singapore, Rajiv Kumar, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer at Virgin Pulse shared insight into how employee wellbeing programs around the world differ.
Reflecting on recent research from Buck Global, Dr Kumar agrees that the adoption of wellbeing programs is growing internationally among employers.
The employer objectives for adopting these programs varies with each region. While there are global issues including obesity, inactivity, mental health and productivity, there is a growing trend to improve qualitative objectives. These can refer to corporate image or brand, improving the employee value proposition and supporting the diverse needs of intergenerational workforces.
As President of the Virgin Pulse Insights team, Dr Kumar has worked with many global organisations to understand these qualitative objectives, and promote a holistic approach to recognising Value on Investment from wellbeing programs.
As organisations seek to improve their health programs and address employee wellbeing holistically, they tend to move from the most common offering such as an Employee Assistance Program, to awareness-based health initiatives such as health screenings and health risk assessments. Achieving scalable changes in employee wellbeing however, relies on scalable, accessible and flexible offerings that support employees to make healthier lifestyle choices.
As Dr Kumar shared in his presentation, 80% of chronic diseases can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle choices. A wellbeing program that supports the creation and sustainment of healthy behaviours can positively influence employee wellbeing in a scalable way.
Sharing insights from the Buck Global Working Well Survey Report, Dr Kumar highlighted the top barriers found to set and execute a global strategy. Differing laws, cultures, and practices across regions were commonly found to be a top concern of global organisations.
Dr Kumar suggests the best approach regarding wellbeing is to think global, with a cohesive global strategy, and adapt programs and communications locally. Leveraging tech vendors with a local presence, involving local wellbeing champions, and using continuous feedback to build a regional profile are essential to ensure success.
Ultimately, employees globally have more in common than not. Despite regional differences, global organisations see similar outcomes in wellbeing programs, as Dr Kumar demonstrated comparing regional data from the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge program. Across more than 30 countries in the analysis, employees in all locations decreased their BMI, improved their overall health and increased their mental wellbeing and productivity.
“Employee wellbeing programs work, universally” – Rajiv Kumar M.D.
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