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The health index of organisations

I stole an opportunity to speak to the CEO of a well known company at a dinner to which I was invited – courtesy of a guest who stayed on my ship a couple of years ago. Of course – being unemployed at the moment is a bit of an embarrassment when one is among a group of people who are – by any stretch of imagination – multi millionaires.

I was keen to start a conversation ( as a result of the quantity of food I saw on his plate ) and while he was gleefully savouring the lip smacking food, I asked – what are your criterions of measuring the health of companies. Yours and in general.

He forgot that I was an MBA graduate (finance to be precise) and took me through the jargon of debt equity ratio, current ratio, interest cover, EPS, PE and all that s&*%.

I asked him – has he ever considered reflecting on the health index of his organisation.

No!! Because it doesn’t exist.

An important parameter to judge the health index is simply the health of the CEO. It might sound strange – but a CEO who is fit and worries about his personal health would worry about the company’s health. Unfit sloppy obese CEO’s aren’t a great reflection of the company’s health.

Employees who lack discipline and can’t take care of themselves cannot take care of their departments or their companies.

A large quantum of the problem originates from the eating habits of people. ‘I love my food’ is a common adage. But one doesn’t have to over eat. You love your food but does that mean you hate yourself? Does that mean you hate the company you work for?

Annual increments and bonuses are based on sales figures, profits and all tangible parameters. For the greater common good of the companies and for employee effectiveness an additional parameter of personal health (dependant on weight, cholesterol levels, health of liver, exercising schedules) would do the corporate world immense good.

10 thoughts on “The health index of organisations”

  1. Manu,

    If thats the criteria of good leadership, probably Britain would have lost the 2nd WW (Mr. Churchill wasnt fit by any stretch of imagination!). Take a look at the best perfortming 50 CEO's in the recent edn of HBR (Mukesh Ambani is 5th in the list and plenty of other 'unfit' ones!).

    Sirji, We missed you at the wedding. I'm back in the UK, talk soon.


  2. Very shallow judgement I must say.. sorry!!. Why health of an organisation only and why not health index of any work place?? millions of obese and unhealthy people would make very unhealthy work space if one goes by your idea. But that is not correct and you would agree – to start with our beloved prime minister Mr. Manmohan Singh!!! please don't even question his dedication and commitment towards the nation, so much so that he works 19-20 hrs a day and has totally forgotten his health. Triple bypass, and he was back in week thinking about the country.
    Steve jobs, not fit (ok not because of food habits)but leadership and vision? unquestionable!
    On the other hand Raju Ramalingam, very fit and agile, played badminton every day but look what he did to the Satyam!!
    You have traveled from particular to general very swiftly and without any basis.
    I disagree that health of the CEO or the leader can be used as an indication of how he /she is leading the organisation.
    True healthy mind resides in a healthy body, but not always, and has no bearing with the commitment and dedication.

  3. Gaurav bhai – my brother

    Health index of an organisation or any workplace to my mind is the same. And with due respects to some of the captains of the industry and of the nations, the ideology was more aimed at conscious indulgence in the sin of gluttony. Steve is suffering from pancreatic cancer on which he has no control. But he is healthy because he has consciously and conscientiously fought his disease with his discipline. So he isn’t unhealthy in real sense.

    Dr. Singh works round the clock but has maintained a strict health regime.

    Without stirring any specific sensitivity, this post was aimed at callous disregard of one’s health that in-turn perpetrates an infectious lethargy detrimental to the health of one's own self and to the organisation.

  4. Sir,

    By luck i got the opportunity to see this fantastic article. I am in favor of this but from now i will follow……………more than earlier.

    Warm Regards,
    Santosh Jha
    Ashiana housing Ltd.

  5. The author demonstrates an exceptionally limited, biased and judgmental analysis. There is little scientific and statistical evidence to prove this hypothesis that that health index of an organization is predominantly directly related/ proportional to the health of its leader. There is little acknowledgement of the delicate interplay of internal and external circumstances that may affect the ‘health’ of an individual. For instance, hereditary influences may limit even the most strong willed and well intentioned individual to be more efficient, effective and productive or the work environment may adversely affect the morale that may in turn have a inhibiting affect / influence.

    Going by the thought presented by the author, the reverse hypothesis should also hold true in all circumstances – the ‘health’ index of an individual should be a direct consequence of the ‘health’ index of its organization. If that were to be the case, there should be less ‘unhealthy’ employees and leaders whose organizations are considered to be more ’fit’. Or to be more precise, an example would be, organizations paying lower remuneration packages should have happy and more content employees and leaders.

    But is that the case? One may wish to review websites that discuss work place health statistics and most of them highlight work related stress to be a cause of several factors, none of which is calorie/food intake.

    What about a case scenario where by the leader is healthy and fit, and yet the organization bottom line is in tatters? Even better, how come it is only top notch executives who have access to state of the art expensive gyms and spa’s, but still don’t necessarily have the time to utilize these facilities?

    The World Health Organization States “ The workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and in turn the health of their families, communities and society. It offers an ideal setting and infrastructure to support the promotion of health of a large audience. The health of workers is also affected by non-work related factors.

    Regrettably the concept that the workplace is an important arena for health campaigns of many kinds, as well as basic occupational health and safety programmes is not yet widely accepted. The concept of the health promoting workplace (HPW) is becoming increasingly relevant as more private and public organisations recognize that future success in a globalizing marketplace can only be achieved with a healthy, qualified and motivated workforce.….”

    Clearly, health is not the only factor taken into consideration. Furthermore, WHO’s definition of health has a wider ambit not limited to size or quality of food heaped on to a plate!

    What needs to be factored into this discussion, in addition to a number of other things, is the fact that shareholders do not necessarily give a dime to the physical characteristics of the leader or how big a glutton she/he is. At the end of the day they are bothered by how ‘healthy’ the bottom line of the company is.

    Health of an executive, may be viewed as a means to an end, but not the sole means. And definitely not the sole end.

    Work place ( read organizational ) health cannot, and in the international arena, is not defined by the calorie intake of an individual. And by international work standards, the perspective presented by the author is outright discriminatory. As an employer (or a management representative), one has judged and individual on the basis of physical appearance and is not necessarily providing an individual the opportunity to realize her/ his full potential.

    Chunmun ( Anonymous ) Kamal!!

  6. Excellent thought and a out of the box thinking. You are right – you cant take care of yourself. How will you take care of my company

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