At the Corporate Health Summit this year, I had great speakers in the panel on invisible stressors. But before I get into it, let me give you some background on why we wanted this session. Most people think about bad health as illness caused by disease, and this view is not entirely incorrect. But what we wanted to draw attention to is to the things that have a far greater effect on our long-term wellness.

These are probably not viruses or bacteria, but far simpler things. It could be the food we consume, the air we breathe on our long commute, the shortage of sleep daily or stress on the job. All of this can contribute massively to our lack of health (as opposed to the presence of illness). Things are made even tougher when you think about entire workforces that are invisible. These could be the thousands of delivery people, the hundreds who work in distribution of the carloads that handle operations for US and European companies on Indian times.

To discuss this topic, we had

  • Aditi Tandan: Director, Rewards and Performance at Flipkart
  • Nimitha Menon: SVP and Practice Leader, Health Risk management at Marsh
  • Vaibhav Tewari: Chief Operating Office at Portea and
  • Dr. Kakoli Lahkar: Consultant in Cancer Care at Manipal

Nimitha, with her background across medicine (she is a doctor) and insurance, was talking about dipsticks and baselines so that a more holistic approach is adopted.

Aditi spoke about commuting being a stressor in itself. She was also characteristically blunt when she spoke about how usage of EAP programs seldom goes over 10%.

Vaibhav passionately spoke about lack of sleep being the chief invisible stressor that gives rise to things like sleep apnea. He also spoke about how just competing at the office is a stressor in itself.

Dr. Kakoli, a cancer specialist, spoke about how a good diet can protect your body from chronic diseases.  She also spoke about how diesel fumes are carcinogenic (not good given the amount of time that we are on the road).

In the discussion and the questions all the usual suspects turned up, but there were some surprise entries, like financial wellness. When we were enquiring about what companies are doing to mitigate these challenges, we realized that most companies are just starting their journey in these areas and a lot remains to be done. This is true about Indian industry as a whole, though some companies are further ahead than the others.

The insurance ecosystem too, across insurance firms, brokers, and TPAs is just beginning to respond to these things.  The same evolution, albeit maybe a little faster, is happening in the service provider space. I reckon this is because it is a lot more varied and has significantly lower regulation than the insurance sector.

This conversation, for me, was a great stepping stone on what is going to be a long road. Come, join us on this journey.

Author credits: Arvind Krishnan, Founder and CEO at The Fuller Life. Moderator of the Imvisible Stressors Panel at Corporate Health Summit 2019

Arvind is founder and CEO of The Fuller Life (TFL), India’s most experienced employee and customer engagement company, since 2001. He is also the founder of Runners for Life(RFL) – a running community that organizes some of the best foot races in the country.

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