South African employers should create an environment where their staff can have confidence to share information about their health issues. This will go a long way towards helping them take control of their health and well-being.
It is also important for employers to ensure there is an open communications strategy to help employees access relevant health and well-being information and benefits, as and when they need it, or are open to it.
Employers can no longer overlook the impact that workplace well-being can have on an employee’s productivity, talent development and retention. There is a growing demand for workplace wellness programmes. Employees are taking control of their health, making wellness a priority and they expect employers to support them.
Employers need to focus not only on mental health, but also on financial well-being and workplace stressors to have a holistic approach to well-being. A health and well-being strategy that has a focus on presenteeism can help reduce employee absence.
There are various ways that employers can help their employees to take control of their well-being. For example, in order to get a better understanding of what is needed to support their specific employee’s needs, employers can use absenteeism and EWP (what is EWP?) data to identify trends and inform their health and wellbeing strategy.
In addition, line managers and supervisors should be trained in order to pick up the signs that someone has a health condition or a trend of absenteeism, as this makes it much easier to be proactive. They have an important role to play in creating the right culture and they need to be equipped to communicate effectively with their team in order to have open and transparent conversations around health.
They have an important role to play in creating the right culture and they need to be equipped to communicate effectively with their team in order to have open and transparent conversations around health. Employers need to ensure that there is an open communications strategy that helps employees access relevant health and well-being information and benefits, as and when they need it, or are open to it, is essential.
Another method is to ensure that the managers support employees with measures to improve their work-life balance or refer them to EWP. A good balance between time in the workplace and time outside the office is important for taking care of one’s health.
In order to assist an employee to make wellbeing a priority and to start owning their well-being, some of the strategies that can be implemented include employers showing that there is nothing wrong with making your health a priority; putting in programmes to help an employee feel financially and emotionally healthy and valued; allowing employees to work smarter and not necessarily longer; allowing employees to set specific times they can answer emails; being specific and targeted with wellness communication; run educational programmes for staff to remove stigmas around conditions such as mental illness; implement rehabilitation programmes for staff returning to work after a health issue and promoting a healthier lifestyle with an ergonomically designed workspace.
In terms of the financial aspect of well-being, a workforce that is saving positively and planning their finances will be less stressed. Less stress means less workplace illnesses and days off, which have their own cost-benefits.
Stress / anxiety is one of the main causes of absenteeism in the workplace as it affects mental health as well as stress related physical symptoms. Giving employees an insight into their own financial world and helping them understand they can take control of their financial behaviour not only can help reduce money worries, but can also have a more engaged, productive workforce.
In conclusion, while policies and procedures are important to set a framework for supporting employees with health conditions, a personal touch is essential too and each case must be “assessed” on its own merit. Offering flexibility goes a long way to supporting employees with health issues and allowing employees to take control of their health and their general well-being.