Rapidly changing and increasingly complex world generates stress and uncertainty that we have to live with. This new reality requires us to be more flexible, patient and stress-resistant. And while we can’t change that in general, we can help our employees adapt and show them ways to better cope with every day challenges. What benefits will it bring to business and how can it help employees?
Over the past few years, more and more people are choosing healthy lifestyle, practicing sports, healthy nutrition, conscious approach to their own physical and mental health. Well-being programs have already gained great recognition among top companies and are becoming best practices all over the world. In a contemporary world of constant battle for best talents, companies offer a diverse range of programs that can engage and motivate their employees. So, what is the role of well-being programs for employees? Do they make a difference for organizations? Are they recognized by employees? Is it just a hype, a tribute to corporate fashion or do they bring great value for the company? Let’s try to find it out.
A hype or an effective tool to increase engagement
According to a recent study by the Global Wellness Institute, corporate Wellness programs amount to nearly $8 billion in the US, and it is expected that by 2021 this segment will grow by another 7.8 percent. Globally, the revenue from well-being programs is $40 billion. Not bad, right? Why organizations around the world are willing to spend huge sums to maintain health and well-being of their employees?
Another research of Centers for Disease Foundation showed that diseases and injuries of employees cost employers $ 225.8 billion annually, or $ 1,685 per employee. In addition, $ 1 billion is spent annually on the treatment of chronic diseases of employees, according to the Milken Institute.
Some more statistics. A study by the University of Louisville found that every dollar invested in a well-being program brought in $7 in health savings. The study also found that changing certain behaviours reduced the average number of health risks among employees from 5 or more points to 0-3.
That means that, according to these data, investing in health and well-being of employees brings additional profits to companies through savings on medical costs and reducing man-hours losses due to absenteeism and sick leaves. Among employers that offer well-being programs, more than half reported a decline in absenteeism due to illness; 66% reported increased productivity.
Why do employees need well-being programs? Servier’s expertise
To achieve maximum performance, employees want to be passionate about their work, share the values and goals of the company, sincerely believe in them and understand that their contribution is significant. The question is how the company can promote greater employee engagement. One of the possible tools is to take care of health and well-being of employees.
In 2018, Servier Russia has developed and implemented a well-being program for employees built around the company’s core values – dare to innovate, commit to succeed, care and grow by sharing. The program covers such aspects of health and well-being as disease prevention awareness, healthy lifestyle including sports activities, environmental initiatives for employees and corporate social responsibility – specifically charity and volunteering.
The goals of our program are as following –
- Dream Employer – well-being program as the company’s competitive advantage that distinguishes it from other competitors.
- Raising employee engagement – helping employees being fit, healthy and motivated through creating a work culture that promotes healthy lifestyle.
- Aligned approach – implementing well-being program for all Russia employees including office, plant and fields, so they have a strong sense of community and can join through various channels – either in person or virtually.
- Reflecting the company’s core values through the lens of caring for employees.
Disease prevention awareness campaigns. Being the 2nd French pharmaceutical company worldwide, Servier has great expertise with focus on five therapeutic areas – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, immune-inflammatory diseases and neuropsychiatry. Having best knowledge in treatment of these diseases as well as support of leading experts who can share their unique expertise, the company started its well-being program by raising awareness of employees around these diseases.
As an example, May 2020 was dedicated to May Measurement Month initiative aimed at raising awareness of employees on hypertension. As a part of the initiative, employees could measure their blood pressure and get advice from a guest expert right in the office. They were invited to make a photo with a special title ‘Please measure your blood pressure’ designed for further sharing with family and friends both in social media and in hard copy.
An opinion leader expert provided a lecture on hypertension speaking about risk factors, prevention and steps that should be taken to minimize the risk. Those employees who couldn’t join the session in person had an opportunity to watch video recording. A booklet with tips on hypertension was developed and distributed among staff – to raise awareness not only among employees but also their families.
In the framework of this month, a special video contest was launched by Servier’s headquarters. The idea was to make a 3 min video clip about hypertension. Russian teams created very inspiring and touching films, one of them became the Servier’s world winner – according to the recognition of the company’s employees worldwide.
Of course, topics covered in the course of the well-being program are not limited to these specific areas. In the coming months, we’d like to talk more about stress resilience, sleep and other themes that would be of great interest for employees.
Healthy lifestyle promotion. Being aware of the diseases – including symptoms, risk factors a prevention – is a good thing. But we want to make a step further to keep our employees fit and healthy. That’s why we actively promote healthy lifestyle – by giving lectures about principles of healthy nutrition and engaging employees to participate in various sports activities supported by the company. These include participation in charity marathons and bike rides. At Servier we have football and volleyball teams, employees join various competitions organized among pharmaceutical companies.
Participation in sports events help us solve several tasks at once – to help strengthen physical health of employees, increase the level of engagement through teambuilding and to establish partnership relations with other industry players.
In addition, the theme of work-life balance at the level of company policy is actively supported.
Mental health and stress resilience. Last year, in 2020, Servier organized a series of seminars on mental health “How to achieve well-being and avoid stress”. Invited experts shared with the company’s employees the concept of well-being, spoke about the nature of stress and ways to deal with it, as well as shared simple techniques to reduce stress right in the workplace.
How to involve all employees?
After the launch of the Well-Being program, it was important for Servier to popularize it – that is, to attract as many participants as possible, which turned out to be a difficult task. The geographical spread of the company (more than 9 regions, 65 cities of presence with different time zones), as well as the specifics of the work (factory workers, medical representatives) limit the ability of employees to participate in the program. All this was important to consider.
Since more than 70% of the company’s employees work outside of the office, it was critical to provide them with equal opportunities to participate in the program. Today, all employees, regardless of the location or type of work (in the office or in the fields), have the opportunity to participate in activities organized within the framework of the corporate well – being program –both personally and virtually.
Live broadcasts are organized, as well as a recording of seminars and master classes, which become available immediately after the event: employees who could not join in real time can view the meeting at a convenient time.
For each topic, brochures are developed, which briefly describe the main theses of the program. You can print them and take them home and share them with your family and friends. At the end of each initiative, a report article is published, in which all available materials are laid out.
Feedback. According to the results of a survey conducted in December 2020, employees gave a high rating to the Servier corporate well-being program – 8.92 points on a 10-point scale (with growth up to 0.72 points compared to 2019).
85% of respondents have participated in WB activities at least once in 2020. 48% joined twice or more times. They highlighted the greatest interest in the following topics: financial literacy, mental health and stress resilience, safety, proper nutrition, as well as awareness-raising and disease prevention.
Servier EAEU – Internal study of Well-Being program
What’s next? Despite the high rating, we do not stop and plan to further develop the corporate well-being program, making it more ambitious, interesting and in demand by employees.
In 2020, EAEU countries Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus and Armenia joined program that initially started in Russia. A corporate community “Well-Being Club” was launched aiming to attract employees with an active social position, who are ready to share their experience and best practices, and develop new directions in various areas of well-being.
Corporate well-being program during COVID-19
We are experiencing an unprecedented crisis that has affected absolutely everyone without exception. For the first time, the epidemic forced countries and companies to take previously unthinkable steps – remote work for a long time for the vast majority of employees.
Fears that ‘it won’t work’ and employees will not be able to work as effectively remotely as in the office, dissipated very fast. Employees quickly mobilized and adapted to the current situation. But it’s not that simple. Of course, a serious threat to life and health, uncertainty about the further development of events, complete self-isolation, the inability to maintain the usual social contacts, uncertainty about the future-all this created the strongest stress.
In the current situation, each company independently developed ways and tools to support employees. But surprisingly, the vast majority of organizations agreed that it is necessary to act through corporate welfare programs. Servier’s company was no exception.
Within the framework of the existing program, we have strengthened our work in all areas: physical and mental health, financial and social well-being. In particular, we launched weekly digest “Servier remotely”, where we made the most relevant collections for employees – articles, TED talks, internal and external initiatives of the Servier teams, and much more. We conducted a series of webinars on how to effectively cope with stress and organize remote work.
We have launched the Servier Book Club project together with Alpina Publishing House. Thus, our employees received free access to the online library and courses to improve their skills and increase their knowledge.
Together with the Corporate Social Responsibility division, a number of corporate volunteering and charity initiatives were launched, including both existing and completely new projects – such as participation in intellectual volunteering projects, providing assistance to doctors, as well as a large-scale campaign for Servier employees to help charitable foundations across Russia that were in a particularly difficult situation due to the pandemic.
Thanks to the crisis, many companies realized the need to develop and strengthen corporate well-being programs. After all, employees, their health and well-being – are the main value of the company.
Well-being programs for employees help significantly reduce the risks associated with health, translates the company’s values about the importance of caring for employees and ultimately increases their motivation and engagement. This, in turn, affects the company’s performance and helps achieving its business goals. As we all are aware that engaged employees work better and with greater efficiency.
Author: Maria Reutskaya, Internal Communications Manager