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Healthier lifestyles can be achieved in many ways – by eating better, by doing sports, or simply by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. But activities and opportunities offered by the company need to take into account employees’ interests and needs as well as constraints of time, resources, and cultural preferences.
“The benefits of good health are recognised everywhere but not everyone has the time or the platforms to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” says Gopinath Govindan, Director for Human Resources at CLP India. “At CLP India, we understand these constraints and we have implemented activities that are easily accessible. The results have been encouraging and we are keen to continue and put even greater effort into these wellbeing initiatives.”
“We are one of the few companies in India to have a policy dedicated to health and wellbeing because we believe it is our responsibility to provide avenues for our employees to take care of themselves,” Gopinath adds.
Samir Ashta, Chief Financial Officer of CLP India, is a good example of how these initiatives have played out. For him, yoga has been a game changer. As he and other CLP India senior executives steer the company’s growing business and expanding renewable energy portfolio, the discipline has helped him deal with the stress that comes with it. So despite an always-on diary filled with back-to-back meetings, Samir makes sure that he has time for yoga, which he has practiced under the coaching of yoga guru Vipul Ijari in CLP India’s office for two years.
“I can handle stressful situations better,” he says. “Doing yoga regularly has changed my life in ways I never expected.”
In addition to promoting health and wellbeing, CLP has taken proactive steps to enhance family-friendly benefits and associated flexible work arrangements that support diversity. This year in Hong Kong we increased paid maternity leave to 16 weeks, extended marriage leave to five days, and introduced a new 10-day adoption leave. The company also offers five days of leave for employees who are members of auxiliary services to allow them to take part in annual training sessions.
“We have had a flexitime policy in operation in Hong Kong since 2003,” says Roy Massey, Chief Human Resources Officer. “And we are now developing a part-time working policy to make this an attractive option to professionals who may have family commitments to balance.”
Roy adds: “While flexible working has potential benefits, it also has limits so it is important to take a balanced view. A number of high profile companies have withdrawn or modified their work-from-home policies for reasons including health & safety risks, loss of integration with colleagues, productivity issues and the need to encourage face to face contact to support innovation.”
The Diversity and Inclusion Council of EnergyAustralia meanwhile began a trial last August to explore the best options for flexible working. “Right now, we’re still in a place where a very traditional way of working is the norm, and any variations to give employees more flexibility need to be discussed between individuals and their managers,” says Simone McDonald, Head of Capability and Enterprise Human Resources of EnergyAustralia’s People Team. “Rather than look at flexible working as add-ons, the four teams participating in the trial took part in workshops where they designed models for what flexible working should look like for their team, as well as for each individual.”
In an interview with CLP.CONNECT, Vanessa Forbes, Senior Director of Health, Safety & Environment talks about the importance of building personal resilience to bolster our wellbeing. Resilient individuals can rebound in response to challenges or crises.
“Life stress varies from person to person as we experience different challenges. We may have pressures from financial obligations, getting married, moving home, or taking care of an elderly family member. Whatever the pressure, this sometimes affects our personal and professional lives,” she explains. “Improving our personal resilience can help us acknowledge difficult situations, keep calm and make plans to get through them.”
If you find yourself in these situations, Vanessa says the key is to look after our physical health (by eating a healthy diet, regularly exercising and getting enough sleep) to support our mental health. In addition, volunteering outside work can bring new and different perspectives.
In improving care for our employees, Vanessa is exploring how the company can provide better support to those who are experiencing physical or mental difficulties. One best practice is for companies to have a return-to-work policy that is supportive, as well as being flexible for the needs of the employee and the company.
Whatever opportunities and incentives are available to improve fitness and wellbeing, it is ultimately up to individual employees to make their lives healthier and more fulfilling. Are you ready to take that first step today?
Vanessa Forbes joined CLP Holdings in January 2018 as Senior Director of Health, Safety & Environment (HSE). She has more than 17 years’ experience in corporate, regulatory, and consulting roles. Vanessa started her career in structural engineering, working in offshore oil and gas for several years, and made the switch to safety after providing expert testimony in a double fatality case. Between 2013 and 2016, Vanessa lived in Hong Kong where she was responsible for the HSE functions in Asia Pacific of an international business and services group. She then spent nearly two years in London during which she was in charge of the global HSE operations of the company. Vanessa aims to bring the best of HSE practices to CLP, establishing a strategy that improves the occupational health and safety of all employees. She also works with the Human Resources department to support initiatives on health and employee wellbeing.