Employee health and wellness is slowly getting its due recognition in Pakistan

Job satisfaction. Employee turnover rate. Employee health and wellness benefits. These words are now getting recognised within multinational, local as well as domesticorganisations as factors that have a high impact on the productivity of a company. Looking at the hospitality sector in closer detail that includes restaurants and accommodation, the turn over rate for employees have always been high compared to the private sectors. According to the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant turnover rate amounted to 72.9% in 2016, making it the second consecutive year that such a high turn over rate was observed.

A similar situation exists all over the world including Pakistan, where employee health and wellness amongst other factors are largely overlooked, especially in the service industry. A recent research study was conducted with regards to employee turnover intention in the services sector in Pakistan (Bajwa, Yousaf and Rizwan, 2014) that discussed different factors that impacts employee retention. Of those factors, maintaining job performance coincided with the type of work conditions provided and the benefits offered to the employees in the workplace. The lack of such benefits, therein, causing dissatisfaction and poor performance by those employees.

Looking at healthcare with more focus, a general trend that has been seen is that a person tends to focus on their healthcare needs only when a medical condition becomes too worse for it to be ignored. And in those instances, people scramble to find qualified specialists for consultations, or get bogged down with long waiting periods outside a doctor’s office, or stuck waiting for a number of lab tests to be carried out. And if such a person is an employee in a company, then that means that the employer would have to deal with absenteeism and in turn loss of productivity within his workforce. To counter that, many companies have finally started to recognise the value of employee health and wellness programs. These are a series of benefits offered to employees within a company, to promote health and fitness in the workplace. The idea is to create a benefits package for employees that not only helps to take care of their healthcare needs but also provides them with an environment that promotes a healthy lifestyle. If this in turn leads to a stress free work environment alongside and helps employees get less sick, then that only benefits the company in the long run.

The value of such employee health benefits is what Cafe Zouk, a contemporary restaurant in Pakistan, recognised. With more than sixty employees, understanding the needs of the employees and ensuring a healthy work environment exists is important especially for a fast paced and stress inducing restaurant business. For that, Cafe Zouk has decided on partnering with a digital healthcare platform in Pakistan called ‘AugmentCare’.The start up company’s ethos is in providing quality healthcare via an integrated healthcare portal that connects patients, doctors, and care facilities. This is to create the most comprehensive solution set for preventative, diagnostic and care facilitation in Pakistan and the developing world.

With the aim of providing a continuum of care to patients, AugmentCare has also created CorporateCare plans that offer health and wellness benefits within the corporate setting. In CorporateCare, employees can access a multitude of digital health services such as video consultations with doctors, ordering medicine online and have at home lab tests carried out to their convenience. More so than that, the CorporateCare portal offers health cover management alongside employee wellness and risk management. This means, a company’s HR can view how their employees are doing, their health risks and can also initiate fitness challenges and other activities to bolster a healthy working environment as well as keeping up to date on their employees health and wellbeing.

Cafe Zouk has taken a revolutionary step, within the service industry in Pakistan, by choosing to keep their employees healthcare needs first. In giving their employees better benefits and providing an environment that promotes health and fitness, it shows that its serious about creating a positive and supportive work environment for its employees. An initiative that every company should take.