With the ever-increasing stress levels and daily challenges we face, it is becoming more and more important to focus on our well-being – especially in the workplace where we spend the majority of our time.
According to The Cape Argus, absenteeism in the workplace costs South Africa between 12 and 16 billion rands each year in lost productivity: ‘Occupation Care South Africa (OCSA), as well as Statistics South Africa, claim that on any given day, over 15% of staff could be absent.’ They also believe that two out of three employees who fail to show up at the office are not physically ill – but are battling to cope or are unhappy at work.
SA SEVERELY STRESSED OUT
A 2015 Bloomberg study ranked South Africa as the second ‘most stressed out’ country in the world, with Nigeria in first place. The Johannesburg office of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group receives on average 400 calls a day from distressed people.
Globally, companies have increasingly been looking at the effects of stress in the workplace and how to combat it, however South Africa is slow to catch up. Many South African companies still see employee wellness programmes as a ‘nice to have’ – however, when staff are less than 50% productive, or not able to work due to burnout and stress, companies’ profits are suffering. These are scary, and costly, statistics.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE BUSINESS OWNER?
Wellness isn’t just about physical fitness, having an annual health check, and having a gym downstairs. Science is proving that health is impacted by all aspects of life. It is important to consider the impact of the work environment on the health of your employees, making sure that your team’s emotional needs are being met and that they are effectively managing the stress they do have at work. Surveys and studies confirm that occupational pressures and fears are far and away the leading source of stress in adults and that these have steadily increased over the past few decades.
How can you solve these issues? While you cannot force an employee to be healthy, you can offer them options and resources to help them make healthier choices. There are many global companies, including Google, who are setting some great examples. Consider these questions as you look at how your business is running:
- Do your employees have flexibility in their work day?
- Do their responsibilities and roles lend themselves to healthy levels of stress?
- Are managers provided with coach training to help them effectively engage with their teams?
- Is your business providing on-site kitchen and eating areas?
- Are you offering healthy food options in vending machines?
These factors can all make a significant impact on wellness and productivity.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU AS A MANAGER?
According to The Cape Argus: ‘A good manager can help reduce employee sick days and boost output at work. The study, by UK Company Business in the Community, shows that managers are even more important in the workplace than previously thought, being able to reduce stress and mental distress among employees, leading to a reduction in absenteeism.’
Being a manager, by definition, means that there are people being managed. If you can provide positive, constructive feedback and inspire, support and understand individuals you are creating a positive work environment and increasing work productivity and healthy relationships. However, managers also need to understand themselves well and have tools to work under pressure – especially if your company is going through change or transition.
Up-skill managers and top talent with skills and tools to motivate lasting change and coach a vision with your team that is aligned with the company’s directive.
Change management skills and coach training
ILS Training offers a two-day workshop or three-month programme to train managers to become change agents and support their teams through transition. This course addresses specific core competencies, as set out by the Change Management Institute. They uncover the team’s reasons for why change is important, communicate consistently using empowering spiral-up coaching skills, coach the team to develop their own solutions, facilitate insightful behaviour changes and transform change resistance to progress.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU AS AN EMPLOYEE?
If you are not healthy you cannot work! Or at least not at levels that are truly productive.
Ask yourself, how productive am I being at the moment? How well am I doing my job? Your health is important in all aspects of your life including at work, it is important to implement healthy choices, keep your energy levels high, and look after yourself. It is great to plan to go to yoga after work when you can, but if your workload is demanding too much, your great intentions of getting to the studio may not happen. You may be doing a medical screening once or twice a year at your office, but what about the other 363 days?
Consider bringing yoga to work and wellness to your company. Suggest a few ways to implement healthier options. If you are enthusiastic about healthy living and want to extend that to your office then why not suggest a well-being programme for the workplace?
Here are some things the company will need to consider:
- Find a leader – whether it is a wellness committee or an individual in charge, you need a point of contact for the programme.
- Get approval from the top – show senior management it is an investment, get the go-ahead and get them participating in your programme.
- Get support from your teams – make it fun, encourage fellow staff members, get as many other people as you can to help.
- Identify needs – what kind of wellness programme would employees want to attend? How much time do they have? What are their preferences when it comes to stress management tools and exercises? Send out a survey to find out.
- Develop a detailed plan – how will the programme be implemented? What resources do you need?
- Put your plan into action and get employees excited.
- Monitor and evaluate – what has worked, what hasn’t? Do you have results and measurables? How can you maintain this programme going forward?
Remember that, when planning the workplace health programme, be clear about your:
- Objectives: know what you want to see happen as a result of your efforts.
- Target audience: who is the programme for? All staff? Only certain groups?
- Type of programme or campaign: what tone will your programme have? Informative? Fun?
If, however, creating your own programme sounds overwhelming, then tap into existing programmes and resources. There are skilled facilitators and companies available to help you create the most effective programme for your company.
In the end, we are all responsible for our own health and wellness; however, it is also in the company’s best interests to have healthy and happy employees. It benefits not just the bottom line, but the team dynamic, as well as their families and communities.
Wellness in the workplace is a hot topic, so get the right people involved, get a wellness programme in place and aim to be more productive, more engaged, more energised, and feeling healthier when you leave the office than when you arrived!
- Cape Argus. Don’t take workplace wellness for granted. Available from: https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/dont-takeworkplace-wellness-forgranted-1992930
- StressPulse Survey.