Xplorio Overberg

HEALTH HAPPENS HERE: WORKPLACE WELLNESS SOLUTIONS – by Dr Arien van der Merwe

Proactive workplace wellness programmes are no longer optional nice-to-haves, but a necessity, making perfect business sense with a proven return on investment.

The concept of our Workplace Wellness Solutions program…

…brings an innovative opportunity to Hermanus and the Overberg as positive solutions to address the challenges of the economic and political environment. Investing in employees as the most important asset of any business (big, small or medium sized) is a powerful memo of encouragement, sending a loud and clear message to employees that you as business owner, is interested in their health and well-being. Truly a win-win situation, also incorporating the triple bottom line reporting of the New Companies Act, easily taking care of the social and community responsibility leg.

Workplace Wellness Solutions…

…have to include the whole human being placed in the context of work, environment, including family, community, mental, spiritual, physical and emotional dimensions, in an integrative way.

Wellness is a conscious and continuous integrative process leading towards the enhancement of individual, organisational and community health and wellbeing.

Integrate (v.) means to combine and assimilate into complete functional wholeness, in this instance, of all dimensions of the human being.

More and more companies realise that employees are their most important assets. This ensures adopting a mutually beneficial approach by assisting employees to improve the quality of their lives and their sense of well-being, while at the same time still taking care of the bottom line through increased productivity and creativity, decreased presenteeism, accidents, sick leave and absenteeism.

Presenteeism is…

…when people are at work but are not optimally healthy or well. For instance, they may have high blood pressure, high or low blood sugar, be depressed, sleep deprived, have lower back pain, be overexposed to hazardous substances, white noise, experience headaches, or feel overwhelmed by stress triggers (work related, personal, financial, etc). All of these impacts on work performance. Considering that chronic diseases of lifestyle are responsible for around 40% of all deaths in South Africa, it is incomprehensible that many local organisations are not taking the impact of wellness on workplace productivity seriously enough.

The most common chronic lifestyle diseases or health challenges, include:

heart disease (e,g, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high blood fats and the high risk LDL-cholesterol); diabetes mellitus; obesity; cancer; depression; asthma and lung disease.  This statistic does not even take into consideration the morbidity and loss of optimal health, sense of well-being and productivity where people are chronically ill or unwell due to these same chronic diseases or health challenges. On top of this, there are occupational hazards, exposure to harmful chemicals, etc.

It is imperative for organisations, big or small, to abandon the traditional reactive approach in favour of proactively implemented measures to protect employees against the negative effects of stress, lifestyle diseases and occupational hazards that can be managed and controlled. A note of caution however, against rushing out and implementing wellness interventions without a clear strategy and buy-in from the organisation’s executive committee, HR and EAP professionals, Occupational Health practitioners, Unions, other role players and of course, the employees themselves.

It is very important to consider wellness interventions as a sound business strategy. In other words you will need to prepare a comprehensive business plan, including financial estimates and expected ROI, to present to your executive committee. The plan will need to be aligned to the HR and overall organisational strategy, have clear goals based on statistics and should also include a vision, project plan and timelines. We often still mistakenly believe that all human beings are competitive and combative, but we also always have the free will to choose creative environments that are nurturing, supportive, harmonious and joyous. To organisations, small, medium and huge, the well-being of the people working there, ultimately makes a big difference to the bottom-line profit margin, employee loyalty and company growth, something local organisations should no longer be considering as only an optional feel-good factor.

With 20 years’ experience as medical specialist workplace health and wellness service provider, advisor and consultant, wellness educator trainer, stress expert, product and program developer for the health care industry, companies (of all sizes), governments, parastatal organizations, interest groups, websites and the media, Dr Arien and her team of specialist consultants, including Dr Andre Louw, Occupational Medical Practitioner, Tertia Basson, EAP Practitioner, and Arina Fyfer, HR Consultant and Liaison with Companies, can provide support for your workplace wellness interventions and programs, from initial design, through project management and practical programs, workshops, seminars and courses (online and real time).

Ariani Health and Workplace Wellness Solutions offer an ideal and innovative solution not only for the bigger companies, but also for small to medium enterprises to implement wellness solutions practically and most importantly, affordably. At our new offices situated in Hermanus, ongoing talks and courses of 1-2 hour duration, will run weekly, based on various workplace wellness themes, such as wellness education, nutrition and wellness food gardens, stress management and employee support and assistance. Employer groups can then send volunteers to these events, without unduly disrupting work operations. They will learn, and in turn, teach their colleagues and communities, paying it forward in a truly empowering networking endeavour. Contact us: Tel. 067 1166 111 or Email: Hermanus@DrArien.co.za. More info: www.DrArien.co.za. Address: 16 Hope St, Hermanus.