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Build a culture of health in the APAC region

Read more for advice on how companies can create a custom well-being strategy that builds a culture of health in the Asia-Pacific region.

By Amber Alam, head of Optum Wellbeing, EAP and Work-Life Services for the Asia-Pacific region | March 8,  2023 | 3-minute read


Create a custom well-being strategy in the APAC region

Workplace well-being looks different across the globe. Cultural perceptions and workplace norms shape how each region and country approaches wellness. By engaging region-specific expertise, your company can strategically improve the well-being of its employees.

Start with a custom well-being strategy

What works for one company in your area or industry won’t necessarily work for yours. Connecting with employees and providing the support and services they need, in the way they need them, is the most critical factor when planning any wellness strategy. In addition, trends in the market aren’t enough; every employer has a unique environment and background.

For example, some employees like digital interaction, some prefer in-person communication, and others may respond best to a hybrid of the two. Even among companies that seem similar, employee needs and preferences can vary widely. I recommend companies start by assessing what their employees want. Providing a healthy mix based on a needs assessment will go a long way in making the program successful.

A structured roadmap is another critical success factor for the wellness strategy. Employers offer wellness in bits and pieces and think they have a program. But you need to have an outcome in mind. My team and I conduct workshops to review data points, such as claims data, absentee data and employee experience survey data. We then strategize the demand and create programs to match. We find that attendance in wellness programs goes up when they match what employees want.

Build a culture of well-being

In the APAC region, a culture of well-being often starts at the top, but to succeed, it also needs support from all managers and leaders. This top-down support structure makes leaders not just program sponsors but also advocates. If leadership can share how a wellness program has helped them resolve life challenges, the workforce will have greater trust in the program and use it more often.

I’ve noticed companies with the most successful employee assistance programs have leaders who actively support the program. As a result, they see success in higher participation, engagement scores and employee satisfaction.

One of the APAC organizations I personally admire engages their employees by making a point to talk about their employee assistance program. Managers and leaders talk about how they’ve used it themselves, rather than just handing out a brochure or hanging a poster. Sharing their own stories can help overcome the mental health stigmas that exist in many countries.

Commit to building a culture of wellness over time

Culture is built over time, not overnight. Start small and take baby steps.

You can begin with one initiative (such as an employee assistance program) and build upon it over time. Get your well-being foundation right, and then you can layer more programs on top of it. Trying to take on too many initiatives at once frays focus and energy, resulting in poor health promotion and program acceptance.

Dedicate resources to wellness

Another way companies create a successful culture of well-being is by dedicating the right resources. A lot of employers rely on part-time wellness leaders to drive their initiative. But I think wellness is a full-fledged portfolio that requires time and expertise.

When organizations have a focused wellness team with dedicated program managers, they far outpace the success of those who run wellness programs via part-time managers. For companies that may not have a dedicated staff, Optum offers a program manager to fill the void. This position helps run the wellness program and connects with the international Optum network.

Find the right partner with APAC expertise

To successfully build a culture of wellness, tailor your custom strategy to your region, industry and employee needs. Sometimes, the right partner can make all the difference.

Contact us to discuss how you can create a custom APAC well-being strategy.

The information provided in this blog post reflects the personal views of the author. The blog post contains general health information and is not a substitute for a doctor’s care.

Optum can help

Our integrated solutions, including our global EAP, help advance your health and well-being strategy to build a culture of health.

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