Why Employee Wellness – In the South African Context
Employee wellness is at the core of any successful business. Employees who are happy, healthy and motivated are more productive at work. In South Africa employees are facing a range of complex challenges. The high rates of trauma, sexual abuse and violence, make it difficult for many South Africans to reach their full potential in the workplace. Employee Wellness programs assist employees in reclaiming their life from trauma and stress so that they can lead a more balanced life both personally and professionally.
Strategic business plans involve the management of human capital. Investing in your employees through wellness programs boosts performance levels and ultimately translates into increased profits. Most people spend the majority of their waking time at work which makes it a significant part of their lives. As economic pressures increase in South Africa people are spending more hours at work. Not only is poor employee well-being detrimental to individual businesses, it also impedes economic growth in South Africa. Businesses need to take responsibility for promoting employee wellness as it has wide reaching impacts on our society and economy.
High rates of violence and stress affect the emotional well-being of South Africans. Employees are also at risk of numerous diseases which can be prevented or controlled by lifestyle changes. Educating employees to make better lifestyle choices is a vital part of increasing productivity at work. When trauma is not addressed, it can result in depression which is another challenge that is having a negative impact on South African businesses.
Employee Wellness programs started to be introduced locally in the 1980s and since then more companies are investing in their employees. While there is a rise in popularity of these programs, the ability of these initiatives to equip employees with the capabilities that they need is still significantly underutilised. Employee wellness is defined by the Harvard Business Review as a program that is paid for by the employer which aims to support their staff to make the behaviour changes that are required to decrease health risks, increase personnel effectiveness and elevate their quality of life, which ultimately boosts the company’s profits.