Staff wellness vital to business success

Whether it’s the provision of a psychologist or a gym, investing in employee wellness can bring a wealth of good to a company.

COMPANY INITIATIVES: Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, employees are also urged to become active and to keep fit as exercise does wonders for stress reduction Picture: ISTOCK

Many employers are becoming increasingly aware of this, offering employees a range of wellness related services which might include psychology or counselling services, wellness days where blood pressure and body mass index are checked, medical services such as nurse or doctor, financial advisers and gyms.

Analysing the benefits of employee wellness, international firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) suggested that employers could reduce costs by investing in the health and wellbeing of their employees.

According to a press release posted on their website in August 2015, PwC said many employers recognise the wider potential benefits of investing in wellness, using it to promote the achievement of other important objectives.

Investing in wellness initiatives is said to lead to improved employee engagement, strengthening the employee value proposition, enhancing the value of people within the organisation and building both the organisation’s reputation and brand.

“Despite the growing evidence base to motivate investment in employee wellness, many employers do not have a clear and complete picture of their health and wellness experience and its drivers, nor a targeted and integrated strategy for improving it,” the press release reads.

“Our view is that there should be a clear strategy for investing in wellness, including clearly defined objectives, which are consistent with the overall strategy and values of the organisation.”

In a story which appeared in Forbes Magazine, written by Joshua Love, the president of corporate wellness company Kinema Fitness, urged employers to motivate their employees to get involved in wellness initiatives in order to ensure their success.

To achieve this, Love advised employers to create an on-site wellness programme which was easily accessible to all employees, constantly educate workers on healthy living to avoid preventable diseases such as obesity, create stimulating wellness initiatives to keep employees engaged, combat rising healthcare costs by lowering employee contributions and to implement a range of different layers of wellness.

He said these layers should include elements of physical activity, education, communication, incentives and a long-term commitment.

East London-based Sheldon Recruitment manager Lindie Krug stressed the importance of wellness initiatives, particularly for industries such as manufacturing where people worked shifts.

“Wellness initiatives are very important to organisations as they can provide employees with information which will help them live better, which benefits the company,” Krug said.

“Look at something as simple as a diet. It’s easy for an employee to eat a pie and have a can of cooldrink from the canteen without thinking about the long-term effects of such food on their bodies.

“ Issues such as fatigue or lifestyle diseases which can come about because of a poor diet, all of which can ultimately impact on productivity.”

According to employee health and wellness experts Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA), absenteeism in the South African workplace is mostly due to illness.

With absenteeism costing the country’s economy about R12- to R16-billion annually, it seems crucial for companies to invest in the good health of their employees.

The Daily Dispatch contacted a few local companies to find out what wellness incentives they offered their employees.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Laura Nel said they offered an on-site clinic, a 24-hour counselling service and annual engagement conferences on various issues such as good financial management.

“The counselling is available for all staff members, their immediate families and anyone else living under the same roof as them. Staff can make use of those services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The on-site clinic is managed by a nurse who is able to tend to minor illnesses and ailments.

More serious cases are referred to a doctor.

“The clinic is very useful and highly beneficial for staff. There is also the annual educational lecture we host where different topics are covered which employees are free to sign up for,” she said.

The East London IDZ offers an annual wellness programme which was set up to nurture staff, assist in the improvement of their overall wellness and to motivate them to remain committed to the company.

The wellness initiative focuses on physical, emotional, motivational, nutritional, social and financial wellness.

“The key initiatives of the programme include an annual wellness day where employees’ lifestyle and clinical risks are assessed, and general wellness awareness sessions.

“Staff are also encouraged to advise on what they want the wellness programme to consist of,” an IDZ spokesperson said.

Asanda Fongqo, spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), said the company provided a comprehensive and integrated occupational health employee wellness programme.

Added to this were social protection benefits, services and programmes which included a medical aid scheme with insured benefits, on-site medical services, biokinetics services, ergonomics services, a fitness centre, on-site counselling with an around-the-clock counselling helpline and a financial advisory.

Fongqo said: “The measurable value that we [MBSA] have experienced include increased employee engagement, improved attraction, retention and attendance, improvements in innovation productivity, reduction in health care cost, injuries on duty, occupational diseases and a reduction in incidents of incapacity, disability and death.”

According to the OCSA website, thriving enterprises rely on healthy, motivated people – employees who are productive at work and who have a sense of well-being.

“Employee wellness is no soft issue.

“Human capital is a valuable asset which should be well managed with as much focus as any other strategic business development,” the website reads. — zisandan@dispatch.co.za

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