Learning & Development Asia 2024
Let's talk about it: Putting employee wellbeing on everyone's agenda, not just HR's

Let's talk about it: Putting employee wellbeing on everyone's agenda, not just HR's

"It is our part to play to talk more about mental health & wellbeing. It shouldn't just be a part of your job - it should be something you embody as a person or as a leader", one leader affirmed at HRO's Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023.

With inputs by Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Childcare vouchers and volunteer days – move over. Take a guess as to the most-wanted workplace benefit employees are keen on? Flexibility. To work from home, to drop their kids to school, to take their dog to the vet, or to take care of ageing parents – whenever needed.

Work-life balance is giving way to work-life harmony. Instead of trying to find an equilibrium between the two, your workforce (and you) would rather find a way to fit both together harmoniously – just like two pieces of a puzzle.

Allowing talent to bring their best selves to work should be the only factor driving our people decisions around engagement, productivity, and motivation. It is essential to take care of our employees – both inside and outside of the workplace – through a holistic wellbeing approach that covers their physical, financial, emotional, social, and developmental needs.

Put things another way, when employers take care of employee wellbeing, they can expect to see lower absenteeism and fewer accidents. 

On 11 October 2023 (Wednesday), Human Resources Online had the honour of bringing together CHROs, HR leaders, health & wellness leaders, and C-suite practitioners under one roof to drive the conversation on wellbeing as a holistic organisational imperative — with a brand-new management conference, Corporate Wellbeing Asia.

The sessions covered all things wellness – from employee advocacy to resilience; to the emergence of chief wellbeing officers, and the role of technology in supporting wellness in a hybrid workplace.

Highlights and key learnings derived from some of the sessions are shared below:

What does it mean to take a ground-up approach to wellbeing? It means having co-ownership of your wellbeing strategy or approach, wherein everyone takes accountability for themselves and their peers, as we learnt from our first session of the day.

One of the key steps our speakers urged the audience to do was to think about delinking HR from the wellness equation, so wellness can be focused on delivering the maximum impact with the resources that are available, and to lessen the load on HR’s shoulders. That said, wellness can be a part of HR, especially in a small company, but comes with boundaries that you might need to draw.

The leaders also highlighted a few things to consider when it comes to implementing a wellness programme:

  • If you have an idea that you want to implement but you worry about stakeholder receptiveness, find champions within senior management. They will help you advocate your initiative at the C-suite level, what you need done. They will be able to support you.
  • Budget is a huge factor; but more in terms of resource and manpower, and not so much on the money needed for your programmes. How do you tackle this? Get internal staff to lead these programmes. Say, for an interest group like a hiking group or a badminton group – instead of engaging external facilitators, consider tapping on the interest and skills of an employee who currently engages in such activities. Get that employee to lead the group. huge thing.

Overall, the leaders also stressed a few learning points when measuring the effectiveness of such programmes: Looking at participation - If you have an organisation of 100 and all 100 turn up, that’s a success. If only one turns up, it’s still a success, you just need to work on improving it. Gather feedback, show it to the management and your C-suite champion. "Remember, you’re not in this role to be defeated, you’re in this role to advance others’ wellbeing."

Importantly, —make it a point to engage your nay-sayers. If they don’t see the value in what you are doing, there are others who might also not. So, hear them out on their reasoning, and if you can convince them or address their concerns, they could turn into your strongest advocates.

The above drives home just how critical clear communication is when sharing our strategies and intentions with our stakeholders — something that was further reaffirmed in another session, wherein our speakers discussed how they are enabling the wellbeing and wellness agenda at their workplaces, and, importantly, communicating them forward.

Among the leaders, were some tips for leaders to effectively communicate their wellbeing strategies:

  • It’s not about how you communicate them, but about having coherent and consistent communication.
  • Ensure you use a balance of methods – don't rely on just one form of communication; instead, communicate through various means to keep it inclusive.
  • Be purposeful in what you communicate.
  • Come up with toolkits for HR and business leaders to communicate with – these are targeted, and personalised to individual markets you operate in.

Finally, came a session that highlighted the importance of making wellbeing initiatives a collaborative employer-employee wellbeing project — emphasising the need for co-ownership, as also noted above.

"It is our part to play to talk more about mental health & wellbeing. It shouldn't just be a part of your job - it should be something you embody as a person or as a leader. It shouldn't just be HR's job to take charge of wellbeing,” one panellist affirmed.

We also learnt: How do you handle high dropout rates on wellness/wellbeing apps or programmes?

  • You need to have a tailored programme for different employees, and this means moving away from a one-size-fits-all. Other things to consider include how you are communicating with employees - you have to work with a vendor who can incorporate within your existing systems and be part of the employee's daily workflow.
  • Look for high-level executive sponsorship. Find those leaders who are using and are impacted by your apps, and they can really talk about it has benefitted them, to tell the story.

Ending on a note of reflection, one panellist asked: "Culture might be difficult to describe, but is it really true if you can't describe it?"

"We always want our companies to have so many types of culture - learning, agile, etc., — so all of them are important, but it is in context. For instance, safety comes first, but at the same time, you want to provide safety in learning & growth.

"So do keep in mind that all culture descriptors are important in their own way."

Check out our video highlight of the event.

Human Resources Online would like to thank all speakers, moderators, panellists, roundtable discussion facilitators, and delegates for being valuable contributors to this event.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to our sponsors & partners for making this conference possible:


TELUS Health
Virgin Pulse

Photo: HRO

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