by Tatenda Rungisa, Human Resources Practitioner and co-founder of Twin Connect Solutions
It’s said that, “Health and intellect are the two blessings of life.” This is true and the two words, “health and intellect” should be what every employer emphasizes on from the recruitment phase to the exit. Beginning a new job or internship can be an exciting and stressful time. Everyone is eager to prove their worth to colleagues and managers and excited to learn new skills, as well as share their own skills set and knowledge. While it’s good to be focused on finding a company that will help meet professional goals, it’s also important to consider how the future employer will help in terms of wellness. It is prudent to note that no amount of money is worth sacrificing one’s wellness.
Healthy bodies and minds go hand in hand with happiness and productivity, both highly sought after characteristics in the workplace. It is sad to note that only a few organizations in Zimbabwe are introducing comprehensive corporate wellness programs to make health a pillar of corporate culture.
A 24/7, always-on lifestyle is just not sustainable. Too often, employees feel the need to work to the point of exhaustion day in and day out . But this attitude actually doesn’t help anyone. Businesses are mostly interested in dealing with the ‘To do’ list, ensuring everyone has met the set targets or tasks per day. However, the fitness of the human resource is not considered at all except when joining during medical tests or when a red flag has been raised by regular sick notes from one employee.
Wellness Management is an employer approach to improving employee health through wellness programs. Wellness is an active practice of becoming mindful of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life, various activities such as company-sponsored exercise, weight-loss competitions, educational seminars, tobacco-cessation programs and health screenings that are designed to help employees eat better, lose weight and improve their overall physical wellbeing.
There are keys ways in which any business can incorporate wellness programs in its strategy or culture. First it begins with a wellness culture that starts at the top. As a business leader, you need to practice what you preach and live the lifestyle that you promote within your business. Leaders in the business should start living healthier lives and share the knowledge with their employees. Such an approach will result in a positive impact not only on the employee’s health but also on the bottom line of the company through tremendous cost savings in terms of medical aid payments as well as productivity.
Secondly, focus on creating such programs increases team work as employees become more acquainted with each other outside of the workplace, they are able to work together and give each other support. This further provides a network of support for the individuals and also can add a competitive component that drives people to do more, be more and experience more.
Third, ensure there is an environment of health. It sounds easy, but if you have a vending machine in your break room, fill it with healthy snacks. When you order in a corporate lunch for a training session, order healthy options and not fast foods. Health must be embraced throughout every aspect of your business, no matter how small or large.
The core of every good wellness program is behaviour change. With the right education, skills, motivation, skills/tools, people change behaviours. Wellness programs are good at helping people adopt and maintain healthy behaviours. An individual’s behaviour change helps the organization at large, it increase morale, motivation, productivity and employee satisfaction. Good employee behaviour is essential for all employees, firstly the customer focused employees who are usually termed the ‘frontline’ or ‘face of the organization’ will perform better and render exceptional customer service if they are well physical, emotionally and socially, all this can be achieved by a sound wellness program.
Poor employee productivity can be defined as physically being at work but not working. This type of poor productivity is called presenteeism. While the estimated cost of presenteeism dwarfs the cost of health care, it does not receive the same level of scrutiny among employers preoccupied with controlling the direct costs of poor employee. Stress management can also be included in the wellness program such that people are able to be educated or take up exercises that help the cope with stress within the workplace as well as outside.
The question now might be how an organization can ensure that they have a comprehensive wellness programme, the programme should fit in within the corporate culture and strategy of the organization, it should have adequate employee (at all levels) and managerial involvement. Ensuring engagement of all employees at the workplace will aid in ensuring transparency, addressing issues to do with cultural differences and preferences within all team members. The organization should also ensure that whatever steps or programs they seek to achieve are in line with their budgets as an organization.
Tatenda Rungisa is a 25 year old based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She holds a Bsc Honours in Human Resources Management, Certificate in workplace collaboration and development, certificate in management strategies for people and resources and certificate of completion in the growth mind-set speakers training. She is a Human Resources Practitioner by profession, motivational speaker, blogger and columnist in a local newspaper. She also co-founded Twin-Connect Solutions which is a youth driven organization led by young females based in Zimbabwe and South-Africa. She is passionate about writing, women empowerment and community work.
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