American Express employees in Gurgaon were in for a surprise when a health flash mob of about 80 employees performed an impromptu dance at the office complex, propagating the ‘Fit Hi Hit Hai’ concept. The dance was part of a carefully planned launch of the bank’s fitness initiative.
Cut to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which has begun a programme called ‘Fit for Life’. This is about running, though the chief executive officer says it's actually about team building. Those who join need to form groups, each of which has to commit to a target of a certain lot of kms. For the first year, TCS has set a target of running for 1.5 million km, of which 330,000 km have been covered. In various cities, TCS also has a concept termed ‘Run with leaders’, wherein employees form groups and run five km each day. “We are a young company and our work makes us travel across the globe, so wellness is critical,” says
N Chandrasekaran, managing director and CEO. The MD himself runs the talk – he runs every morning at 5 am, whichever part of the globe he is in.
That sentiment is spreading to companies of all sizes. With stress levels on the rise and engagement activities a key to retaining employees, organisations are playing up the health quotient to connect with staff and keep them healthy and energetic at work.
Ashwani Dahiya, vice-president, international health and benefits, American Express, says the objective of the ‘Fit Hi Hit Hai’ programme is to promote 'Fitness with Fun' — a progressive way of achieving success in weight management, thus taking a preventive approach towards chronic medical conditions. Dahiya believes the programme, which has started with 200 employees, will help build a motivated and energetic workforce for the company.
Many others share that hope. For example, the human resources department at Tata Technologies has a 'Passionate Fun Loving Engineers' concept under which regular 'Doctor Talks' by reputed personalities from the medical field are held. Also, wellness experts conduct sessions on music therapy and stress-relieving techniques. The company’s medical cell has defined a 'health index' and the company maintains a Health Score Card for all employees.
Samrat Gupta, chief people officer at Tata Technologies, says the coverage of employees under health checkups has increased to 52 per cent in 2012, from three per cent in 2009.
HR consultants say fitness is also a great employee engagement tool. Sunil Goel, director at human resource firm GlobalHunt, says since competition levels are very high, companies are using these initiatives to drive productivity. “Companies have started organising activities like meditation camps, where all electronic communication is barred, to reduce stress levels of employees. Though it had started only with senior personnel, it is gradually percolating down to employees in all grades,” he adds.
Hindustan Unilever has seen tremendous response to its ‘Personal Vitality’ initiative. The company has devised a ‘vitality index’, a measurement of the vitality of individual employees, based on four parameters — the Body Mass Index (BMI), blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar. For each employee, these four are measured and noted on a vitality index scorecard. The lower the score, the better the personal vitality. A score of zero to four puts you in the ‘green zone’, five to six in the ‘amber zone’ and seven and above puts you in the ‘red zone’. Each employee is intimated his or her score and colour zone, with confidentiality assured. The first burst of this exercise was completed in just four days.
In the second stage, employees were encouraged to improve their personal scores, at workshops across the company’s locations, arranging events like Vitality Exhibitions, Family Day, Walkathons, nutritional menu counselling and so on. Through interactive sessions, the employees have been taught about the concept of BMI, its measurement, ways of improving lifestyle, a healthy and controlled diet to avoid or reduce obesity, as well as exercises for weight management.
With inputs from Shivani Shinde