This post was written by Thea Joselow at Arogya World.  Arogya is a global health non-profit organization committed to changing the course of chronic disease by implementing programs for diabetes prevention through lifestyle changes in schools, workplaces, and communities in India.

Workplaces are incredibly valuable platforms for wellness advancement and chronic disease prevention. Wellness programs are a fixture in the U.S. corporate scene, as employers and health insurance companies seek to reduce healthcare costs by improving the health of employees.

Backed by both the WHO and the World Economic Forum, workplace wellness is a smart investment. According to this great “Prevention Means Business” infographic from the Public Health Institute, for every $1 spent on workplace wellness programs, employers can save up to $6.  Earlier this year, Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated an ROI of $3.47 for every dollar spent on workplace wellness. 

Arogya World is working to leverage workplaces as a platform for chronic disease prevention in India. To that end, we announced a new Commitment to Action at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in September. There, we pledged to get 100 companies in India to become recognized as Healthy Workplaces by 2016, helping one million of those who work there lead healthy lives.

Arogya picture 2Why India? Mr. Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, said, “India has a huge burden of NCDs – 20% of Indians have at least one chronic disease, and 10% more than one. For us to win against NCDs, multiple sectors of society must work together.”

Our goal is to recognize companies for their commitment to workplace wellness, encouraging them to meet high standards, and ultimately motivating others to follow suit. At the same time, we will be gathering data to demonstrate the return on investment for businesses, a key factor in the sustainability of wellness programs. “While the health of employees will improve with focused efforts like this, what is also of interest to us is the value to the business – improved retention, reduced attrition, and increased productivity,” said Pavan Bhalla, Executive Vice President and India Managing Director for Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon, a Healthy Workplaces partner.

With the input of multiple stakeholders, we developed the Healthy Workplace criteria in 2012. Companies will benchmark themselves against the criteria, and then be evaluated by our assessment team to score their activities and confirm award levels.

We’re off to a great start. On November 12th, we recognized nine companies based in India for their workplace wellness initiatives, including iGATE, Wipro GE Healthcare, Reliance Infrastructure (Mumbai Transmission), MTR Foods, Emami Limited (Abhoypur), Infotech Enterprises Limited, Myntra Designs, Quinnox, and Aon, which together have a pool of more than 50,000 employees. Winners were awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards at a gala presentation ceremony held in Bangalore on November 12th.

We know that workplaces are a very important partner in improving health globally, and we are excited to continue our work. In the future, Arogya World will also offer these Healthy Workplaces innovative mHealth and lifestyle coach-led diabetes prevention programs, to help them further their commitment to employee health. Together, we can improve lives and livelihoods.