Yoga for everyone! Why do corporate wellness programs fail?

The Economist – Mexico City

Wellbeing programs do not always have the expected performance, largely due to the fact that they do not have metrics, prior research, are implemented outside working hours and do not suggest a culture of prevention, which explains why some organizations with this type of strategy continue to notice high levels from work stress, Reveals business research by Dale Hype.

According to the report, 80% of employees express stress due to work procedures, despite the fact that their organizations have wellness strategies in place. Ironically, 75% of companies admit that their employees have lost interest in the company’s solutions.

“Many activities are isolated, like yoga classes, and not a program with a follow-up. One thing we notice is that the strategies don’t have a deep understanding of what collaborators need and what triggers stress in them,” shares Silvia Ramos, co-founder of Dale Hype.

At least 9 out of 10 companies have implemented measures to take care of the health of their talent as a result of the entry into force of NOM-035, a tool often confused with a wellness program.

“There is still a culture within organizations that talks about wellness, health and risk management as a trend, a fashion, or just regulatory compliance,” says Ariel Almazan, Regional Director of Wellness and Health Benefits and Chaims of Mercar Marsh for Mexico and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the experience of the specialist, one of the frequent mistakes in the design of health programs is the lack of a comprehensive vision and policies that sincerely focus on employees. “Workplace health and safety programs are in line with company policy where everyone speaks the same language, everyone understands the purpose of implementation and once that is understood, we move to the implementation phase. When all of this is not aligned with the needs of your working population, it is a bullet in the air, without specific goal,” he says.

Dale Hype’s research also found that the vast majority of companies do not have key decision-making metrics for their health programs. In addition, its design was left to human resources, but without in-depth research to discover talent needs.

From the perspective of Jorge Merida, Creative Partner of the Wellbeing Advisory Network, the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health highlights the importance of periodically reassessing and adjusting wellbeing programs.

“I believe that those programs that were created as reinforcement by Rule 035 are no longer sufficient now, even the wellness programs that emerged in response to a health emergency are no longer effective now. This dynamic change that has occurred in the work environment requires these programs to be constantly updated”, notes the specialist.

Jorge Mérida explains that this obsolescence of occupational health strategies may largely explain why employees continue to experience high levels of stress despite the fact that the company provides them with tools to deal with this reality.

More self-imposed workload

Dale Hype’s research has found that during the pandemic, some employees are putting more workload on themselves to prove they are a good fit and avoid being fired, a situation that has exacerbated their mental health toll. This is in line with what Edelman’s confidence scale reported last year: Mexicans were more afraid of losing their jobs than of contracting Covid-19.

Silvia Ramos makes an important point in this scenario, that middle management leaders were too focused on results, and there was also little conversation regarding the importance of self-care and leveraging the tools companies offer.

A lot also comes from culture, such as not refusing to do an activity because the person asking is your boss and this is related to how we behave at work, and despite the enhancement of the luxury space in organizations, Silvia Ramos says: “We still face the challenge of the work culture that we see In which our parents grow up in alternating shifts or work despite their illness, and this is another reality.”

For Ariel Almazan, the current context is positive for reinventing benefits, enhancing flexibility in wellness programs, identifying employee needs and adjusting some of the structures around these initiatives. “We know today that the benefits pyramid is inverted, with health-focused benefits traditionally being delivered to higher-ups, managers, and leaders within organizations,” he points out.

“A smart investment in luxury is when you define the needs of your residents in terms of Benefits and wellness. Because if these initiatives are not aligned with these diverse and overarching needs, there is no goal to be achieved, and this is an expense. If you point the stock at a specific target, that’s a smart investment,” he points out.

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