Head Office, Johannesburg, South Africa

How health promotion and employee engagement can improve your business

employees-welness-happy-employeesOur economy loses R12 to R16 billion rand a year as a result of employees who fail to show up for work. If that isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that we’ve also lost R55 billion since 2000 due to sick leave alone.

For as long as businesses rely on human resources to run smoothly, they’ll have to live with some of the realities of human flaws – illness being a major one. It’s obviously illegal to deny employees the right to stay home and recover from illness. But seeing as we’re in the middle of winter and the rate of illness among employees is bound to get higher, what creative measures can you take as an employer to ensure that your staff is sick as rarely as possible?

Over the last decade, employers realised that employee engagement and encouraging a culture of healthy living in the workplace led to better business. So we’ve borrowed a few tips from some of the healthiest companies for you so that you can also save money just by being a caring employer.

Filter your office’s drinking water

It’s no secret that the municipal water supply isn’t exactly the cleanest. Some doctors go as far as saying that you’re better off drinking from a running river than a running tap. A great way of keeping your employees healthy would be to ensure that their drinking water is filtered. There are several cost-effective ways of doing this including the installation of tap water filter like eSpring, investing in a water cooler or, for smaller workplaces, a water filter jug.

Promote happiness through mental health awareness and stress management

A third of all South African adults suffer from some kind of mental illness. That could easily be a third of your entire workforce. Moreover, most mental illnesses manifest in one’s 20s, which is also the age most people begin working. It’s dangerously easy to assume that this means working causes mental illness, but what’s more likely is that the pressures of working might contribute to the onset of mental illness in individuals who are already predisposed to it (genetically, for example).

It’s important for you to help your employees manage their stress. There many ways of doing this, like setting up an Employee Health and Wellbeing Programme (EHWP). These programmes, like the one provided by ICAS, provide capable professionals that apply a holistic approach to your employees’ well-being, including physical and mental health. EHWPs give your staff a safe and confidential space to seek effective help with legal, financial and personal matters.

Use fun days to blend employee engagement with vitality

Why not keep your staff healthy and improve employee relations at the same time? A sports day gets your whole office moving and active while encouraging bonding among your staff. The benefits of good teambuilding are far-reaching: it leads to less conflict between colleagues, automatic employee engagement, it boosts company morale, affirms trust across the hierarchical structure, and improves communication and collaboration, which will inevitably lead to a business that performs better. And, as an added bonus, your staff will be healthier for it. So pick an activity or sport and encourage your employees to turn off their screens for a day and unwind.

Move your business closer to amenities

The further away your business is from daily necessities, the less your employees will be able to do to and from work and during their lunch breaks. From a productivity standpoint, this doesn’t seem like a problem. If employees aren’t running personal errands, they’re working, which is good, right? Not entirely.

If your business is centrally located it means it’s closer to shopping centres, pharmacies, banking facilities and so on. A weekend generally isn’t enough time to run all of one’s errands, especially when certain amenities are only available during the week (and during work hours). What this boils down to is that if your employees can’t fully conduct their lives because of the limitations that come with working for you then they’ll be disgruntled, then stressed until they’re eventually emotionally, mentally and even physically unhealthy. It turns out the first rule of real estate is also the fourth rule of keeping healthy employees: location, location, location.

For more creative and practical ways to keep your business running at its best, download our ebook on Gearing Your SME for Long-Term Success.