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They say good data needs a storyteller.

I wrote this article before the Health Report of Corporate India launched because I didn’t want my thoughts to be coloured by what happens after the launch.

A little over a month ago, after launching The People Success Masterclass, I was sifting through the responses to a survey Nisha had commissioned to understand working India’s relationship with their health. Patterns emerged, some confirmed inherent biases, some questioned them, but I needed more data to build on top of them.

So, I pitched the idea for a bigger piece - one that would use our insights from the survey was a starting point, but would also be derived from Plum’s existing data.

Shreyas, in characteristic fashion, told me to come back with a draft.

So that’s what I did - I asked Jayanth, our Head of Healthcare, for data about Telehealth and the other health benefits we offer. I returned to Dhairya's data for The State of Employee Benefits 2023. Nisha was an absolute rock, sharing all her qualitative insights from her conversations with employees and doctors. A week (and one long weekend) later, I shared my first draft, to this message from Aishwarya.

Multiple iterations (and a lot of feedback) later, we’re proud to present The Health Report of Corporate India, our deep dive into working India’s relationship with health, their expectations from corporates, and gaps in corporate healthcare.

Some of our key findings:

There are many more, and I’d recommend you to go through the report. But this piece is less about the report, and more about why I think this report is important, and why this report is important to me.

Why I believe this report is important.

We Indians have a complicated relationship with health.

It’s an afterthought for most of us — we don’t undertake health checkups, we let the smaller symptoms slide, we go to a doctor only when it’s really serious.

And it’s probably because it’s expensive — India’s medical inflation rate’s the highest in Asia, most of us (7/10) pay out of our own pocket for healthcare, and life’s hard enough on its own without having to spend so much on doctors unless absolutely required, right?

So while it would be remiss to say the corporate lifestyle is the only reason affecting our health, it would be equally irresponsible to say it doesn’t play a part.  

Sometimes, the impact on our health is direct – it manifests through sedentary lifestyles, exposure to communicable illnesses, and workplace stress.

Sometimes, the impact is indirect – folks moving cities suddenly lose access to their family doctors and health network, some might have chronic illnesses that are overlooked by stuffy workplace policies and insurance, and some might wilfully prioritise their work and ambition over their health and wellbeing (also read: Your CTC is not your true worth).

Either way, we spend a third of our lives working. I believe it’s not too much to ask for India Inc. to take a greater interest – and investment – into the health of the 522 million folks they employ.

And it’s never for lack of effort. All the companies we’ve spoken to acknowledge this and want to address it. It’s just that they weren’t sure of the right places to invest in.

If you’re a CHRO or founder reading this, I hope this report helps you make more informed decisions about your team’s health. I hope this encourages you to ask more questions of your healthcare plans and partners. I hope this validates your healthcare initiatives, but also tells you what you need to be doing more of.

And if you – like me – are an employee, I hope this report arms you with enough information to demand more accountability from your companies. Life is too short to work for a company that doesn’t care about your health, and that of your loved ones.

Why I think this report is important to me. 

Like most things you end up being proud of, this report was a little personal to me. Working on this report made me appreciate why I work at Plum.

Not everywhere do you get the opportunity to work on data, let alone data that reflects something as real and tangible as the health of working India — the data represents my peers, my friends, my family, and the readers of this blog. The realisation that this might impact some workplace policy somewhere not only humbled me but also made me cognisant (and a little terrified) of the immense responsibility I was entrusted with.

But also, this report appealed to my innate curiosity. I was talking to anyone who would listen about what I found interesting about this report.

For example, 

  • an employee’s parent’s commonly consulted specialist was an ortho, which could mean telehealth has made healthcare convenient, especially to folks who would have had discomfort travelling. 
  • A sibling’s most commonly consulted specialist was a psychologist, and the knowledge that siblings got each others’ backs no matter how cold the world could get, was touching. 
  • more pet consultations were made than parents-in-law, make of that what you will.

This report was the proverbial child, and Plum was the proverbial village. From Jayanth (who offered all the inputs and recommendations) to Srini (who was kind enough to clean all the data so that I could run 25 pivots), from Parnika and Dhairya (who gave me all the data I needed and more) to Anisha (who was instrumental in fixing all the design), from Nisha (who was the best of friends and the worst of critics) to Shreyas (who tolerated every delay), I’m thankful to everyone in this company who let me do my thing.

They say good data needs a storyteller. But this data wrote its own story, and I was privileged to be the conduit.