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Corporate reporting should extend to employee wellness

Current corporate reporting is far more nuanced than ever before, covering financial, environmental, social and governance elements. However, reporting on health has largely been neglected, even though the wellbeing of employees has a substantial impact on business success and sustainability.
Image source: Getty/Gallo
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group (HWAG) conducted a survey to understand where corporate SA is with regards to health and wellness reporting. The survey was completed by 172 companies. Of these companies, more than 50% are involved in the financial sector, and approximately 70% of them had less than 500 employees.

"Health and wellness of employees have a direct impact on the organisation’s bottom line. Corporates should take bigger responsibility for their employees – their wellness, their health.” says Brett Tromp, CFO of Discovery Health and CEO of Discovery Healthcare Services.

Some of the key findings of the survey are:
  • The most successful programmes, policies and practices across the board are in the areas of occupational health and safety, medical benefits for full-time workers and smoke-free workplaces;
  • The vast majority of large companies (78%) meet regulatory requirements for worker occupational safety and health;
  • A slight majority of large companies (51%) have an annual budget or receive dedicated funds for health and wellbeing initiatives; and
  • The majority of companies do not believe it is necessary to get involved in the following areas at the moment: incentives for a healthy lifestyle, physical exercise, reduction of alcohol consumption, tobacco use cessation, sleep management, health coaching, health risk assessment, and the extension of available programmes to family members and other dependants.

“Most successful and innovative organisations today make employee health and wellbeing a key focus of their business strategies. It is not something to which they simply pay lip-service: they spend a lot of time, energy and money in developing workplaces that enhance wellness and consider those to be a crucial component of their organisational business strategies,” says Freeman Nomvalo, SAICA CEO.

"One reason for this focus is that various scientific studies have shown that the cost of not having a wellness programme in the workplace is greater than the cost of implementing one. When you factor in high turnover rates, staff absenteeism and overall staff morale and energy levels, the absence of a workplace wellness programme can be very expensive. Another, perhaps even more important, reason is that it is simply the right thing to do," he says.

Besides occupational health and safety; provision of medical benefits for full-time workers; smoke-free workplace, HWAG believes that companies should report on the following components:
  • Mental wellness programme (e.g. stress management, resiliency programmes, managing depression);
  • employee assistance programme (EAP) access for counselling and intervention for those already at high risk (e.g. stress, depression);
  • family-friendly policies (e.g. flexible work schedules or working remotely);
  • access to healthy office design components based on special needs (e.g. sit-stand desks in case of back pain);
  • communal spaces where employees can eat, relax, interact with co-workers, or hold private conversations;
  • and assessments of the health and wellness of its employees, such as a health risk assessment (HRA) survey or biometrics screening assessment or the self-reported general health status of its employees using a confidential survey or assessment tool.



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