Leaders Who Thrive//

It Pays to Care More for Your Well-Being: Amit Malik, Aviva

Aviva’s Chief People, Operations and Customer Services Officer Amit Malik says microsteps keep him mindful and help in making better decisions.

Amit Malik has found a way to balance the demands of corporate life without compromising on well-being. While he does experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) if his smartphone is not around, Amit makes sure to put devices aside when it comes to his priorities in life—his children and family.

In his current role at Aviva, Amit drives Customer focus, Service Mindset and People Agenda in accordance with company strategy. His success mantra is “Building a dynamic, vibrant and agile culture with focus on innovation and simplicity, key ingredients to propel the organisation to be customer and future-ready.”

With over 20 years’ experience in HR leadership roles, Amit has worked with multinational organisations like the Bank of America, Royal Bank of Scotland, American Express and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and is a management graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune. Malik is also an alumnus of the School of Industrial and Labour relations, Cornell University and Said Business School—Oxford University, and a Certified Coach from ICF.

He shares insights from his journey and how Aviva is focussing on Thriving. Edited excerpts from his interview with Thrive Global:

Thrive Global India: How do you inculcate well-being among employees in your organisation?

Amit Malik: Our efforts at encouraging and assisting employees to focus on well-being are rooted in our core organisational value of Care More. We understand that busy lifestyles often do not allow the opportunity to focus on health. Over the past few years, we have organised scores of health camps across our locations in India. These not only provide access to common medical tests and qualified medical practitioner advice, but also focus on personalised health and diet counselling. These are free of cost and are organised at our premises, making them accessible to all employees.

TGI: Tell us about your efforts to encourage healthy living.

AM: We communicate with employees frequently via e-mail, sharing health and nutrition tips, and regularly organise health and yoga camps across our locations. We even have a week-long sports league every year. Our endeavour is to help employees appreciate that the cost of prevention is far lower than the cost of treatment. We also have a ‘heart-age calculator’ with our Heart Care option encouraging employees to know more about their health and possible afflictions and how to prevent the same.

There are also informal groups that engage in fitness-related activities. For instance, the Operations and Customer Services team started a ‘Fitness Friday’ regime where the entire staff on the floor exercises at their desks to music. It’s a fun way to engage and also drives the message to move around for employees with a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.

We also encourage employees not to spend overly long hours at work. To make this happen, we decided to switch off all air-conditioning at 7 pm every day.

TGI: Have you experienced incidences of burnout and stress in the organisation? What was done in those situations?

AM: Stress and burnout are becoming increasingly commonplace across the corporate world. For individuals experiencing the same, the managers and People Business Partners look for early warning signs. Such employees are then assisted by respective PBPs with counselling and coaching and a forward-looking conversation with managers on the best way to assist the employees.

TGI: Beyond living a healthy life, what does Aviva do to ensure future generations have a better world to live in?

AM: We have continuously decreased our Carbon footprint over the years. We have consistently used innovative methods to reduce our water and electricity consumption and have reduced 823 tonnes and 7 tonnes of CO2 from air and rail travel respectively last year. We have also eliminated the use of single-use plastics from all our offices.

TGI: What opportunities are there for unplugging and recharging at the Aviva office?

AM: We have break-out areas on each floor for people to take some time off, have tea or coffee, engage in conversations or simply relax. There is also a library at the common area of the first floor.

TGI: What is your corporate mantra for wellness?

AM: Our core value is ‘Care More’, which means: Take care of your body and mind. This will enable you to be healthier, stress free, be more present and more productive, be more collaborative and more empathetic with your co-workers and also serve customers better.

TGI: What is your relationship with technology?

AM: I am a big believer in technology and its ability to impact our lives for the better. I am an early adapter but am also conscious about not allowing it to control my life. Like most others, I feel anxious if I can’t find my smartphone. To maintain balance, I do ensure that I keep all devices away for some part of the day—during exercise, meals and spending time with kids. This allows me to be present and gives the necessary time off-screen.

TGI: When was the last time you felt burnt out? What did you do?

AM: I consciously take regular breaks to ensure I recharge and rejuvenate myself. Once a year, we take a long summer holiday as a family to travel, enjoy and recharge. Once a month, I take a relaxation day on a weekend, when I just watch movies, read and spend time at home. I ensure I sleep extra on weekends in the afternoon to catch up on rest too. 

TGI: How do you incorporate well-being into your daily routine?

AM: I appreciate the importance of switching off from time to time and take several small but effective steps to improve well-being. I exercise regularly, even if it involves only 25 minutes on the treadmill five times a week. I also follow a healthy, balanced diet. More recently I have moved to a no-sugar regime for five days a week.

I spend time with family and try to give digital devices and work e-mails a pass at those times. I also make it a point to sleep for seven hours a day on a regular basis, eat early and finish my dinner between 7.30-8 pm every day. After that, I don’t eat anything till 8 am the next day.

TGI: How do these habits affect your productivity?

AM: These small steps help me stay ‘present’ and conscious during my work day, and hence assist in better decision making. It also helps me be more empathetic and calm during potentially stressful situations. These make me feel energetic to take on the world.

Want to share your story of how you thrive? Write to us at editorial.india@thriveglobal.com

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