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Companies invest for healthy, stress-free workforce

business Updated: Jul 07, 2016 14:49 IST
Himani Chandna

A study says stress, obesity, and physical inactivity, are the three most pressing lifestyle risk factors in the Asia Pacific region, which includes India.(iStockphoto)

With the stress of meeting deadlines, late nights, early mornings, overdose of coffee, skipped lunches and frequent dining outs, maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with the job has become a distant dream. But, as they say it’s better late than never, the employers are now moving beyond gymnasiums, and recognising that a healthy, less-stressed workforce, benefits both employees’ well-being as well as the company’s bottom line.

Manoj Juneja, 40-year-old senior sales director with Adidas Group India, juggled with a target to shed weight in the span of just two months. Juneja, who did not share his exact weight, set himself a personal weight reduction target under the company’s initiative, Fitness Buddy.

“I chose the fitness goal to reach double-digit weight in two months. By the end of the year, the aim was to lose another 5-7 kg,” Juneja said.

Along with Juneja, around 100 other colleagues are also working towards the same goal at Adidas.

For the first time in 11 years, Juneja, achieved the target. Reason? The encouragement came officially.

According to a study, Staying@Work, conducted by a global advisory firm Towers Watson, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity, are the three most pressing lifestyle risk factors in the Asia Pacific region, which includes India.

“It’s not just about making a gymnasium in office. Now, the health and productivity programmes help employers meet crucial productivity goals and gain a competitive advantage,” said Arijit Sengupta, senior HR director, Adidas Group India.

Setting fitness targets is a win-win proposition for both the employers as well as employees.

As the healthcare costs and lifestyle risks are increasing globally, health-savvy organisations are making efforts to control them.

Several companies and groups, including HDFC Bank, United Breweries, Marico Industries, Mahindra and Mahindra, Godrej Properties and Jubilant FoodWorks, among others are encouraging employees to opt for healthy lifestyle, by literally setting targets for the employees and rewarding them for the same.

Food services major Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd, operator of Domino’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in India, recently conducted a “biggest loser” competition to award the employees who lost maximum weight in every quarter.

“We have also installed weighing machines at various places in our office. Also, we have procured fitbits (wearable technology device that measure data, such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep, steps climbed, and other personal metrics) for all our senior employees,” said Biplob Banerjee, executive vice-president, HR at Jubilant FoodWorks .

Companies are also investing over pedometer-based, mass participation events. For instance: Stepathlon, a virtual platform that urges participants to walk 10,000 steps, has partnered with over 400 companies in India, including Tata Steel, Tata Power, Vedanta and Aditya Birla Group companies, in the last four years. A pedometer is a device, usually portable, which counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person’s hands or hips.

“Companies are taking the wellness of their employees very seriously... It works not just as a wellness programme, but also as a very effective team building and engagement tool that helps organisations bring its people together to work together for a common goal,” said Ravi Krishnan, CEO, Stepathlon Lifestyle, which has bagged several new clients for its upcoming race, which includes Bajaj Finserve, Zivame, Archidply and Accor Hotels.

Don’t get confused when the companies talk about targets now, they may not necessarily mean ‘turnover’, but goals to ‘reduce weight’.