Unique employee wellness campaign drives international standards

10 March 2015 Perfect Word Consulting
Liane McGowan.

Liane McGowan.

While the rest of corporate South Africa continues to focus on employee engagement through physical wellness campaigns, one South African company is taking wellness a step further by following international trends, focussing on emotional health. Why? Because mental wellness plays an integral part in employee happiness which, in turn, affects productivity.

“We are by no means suggesting that physical wellness campaigns are not important,” says Liane McGowan, founder of Happy Monday CC, “but rather noting that healthy employees are not necessarily happy employees, and unhappy employees are not likely to be productive, even if they are physically healthy.”

Happy Monday therefore aligns its campaign with existing employee wellness drives, focusing on promoting group motivation, changing the propensity of ‘Monday blues’ by igniting passion and happiness in the workplace. The happiness campaigns run once a month for a year, with the approach being adjusted according to the outcomes of each session.

According to global research, happiness leads to success in all areas of life including at work. Although South Africa seems to be lagging behind, there is a definite worldwide shift towards the ‘happiness factor’ within the corporate space. Shawn Achor, founder and CEO of Good Think, Inc., released a ground breaking book: ‘The Happiness Advantage: The seven Principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work’, which was published in 2010. Achor shows that happiness as a concept, particularly within the workplace, is poorly understood and is an essential component for employee to reach their potential.

At the iOpener Institute for People and Performance empirical research event, involving 9 000 people from around the world, astonishing findings were revealed. It was shown that employees that report being happiest at work stay twice as long in their jobs compared to their less happy colleagues, spend double their time at work focused on what they are paid to do, take 10 times less sick leave and are twice as likely to believe that they are achieving their goals to the best of their ability. The research further revealed that happy employees are 180% more energised, 108% more engaged, 50% more motivated and 40% more confident than unhappy employees. Yet, according to McGowan; “Making employees happy is a simple yet astonishingly undervalued part of corporate culture. It’s time South Africa catches up to the rest of the world.”

Happy Monday’s campaigns include 12 workshops that focus on encouraging employees to have fun, to laugh and to communicate. For example, a recent session held at the Pretoria based head office of a multi-national corporate organisation with over 4000 employees, entailed an entertaining visit from Conrad Koch and his famous puppet, Chester Missing. To ensure the inclusivity of the campaigns, the company works with all organisational levels within its clients’ companies, offering targeted programmes for each unique group. In depth needs analysis conducted at the onset of campaigns allows the company to offer solutions that deal with core issues unique to each organisation.

If corporates focus on creating a happy environment for their staff, allowing staff to feel that their emotional needs are being met, the sky is the limit. “The science of happiness is changing the way we work, think and live,” confirms McGowan. “Happy employees enjoy being at work. They communicate better, work better in teams, are open to understanding and are more motivated.”

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