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Why employee wellbeing is important and what you can do about it

22 October 2021 Simply Financial Services
Anthony Miller, CEO of Simply Financial Services

Anthony Miller, CEO of Simply Financial Services

Employee wellbeing is on the slide

Employee wellbeing is a critical factor in the success of any organisation. Poor employee engagement and impaired wellbeing not only affects the culture within the company, but can erode profits through higher employee turnover and absenteeism, increased healthcare costs and reduced customer service levels that negatively affect customer relationships and, ultimately, revenues.

As wellbeing has emerged as a key business success factor, researchers have studied its role in companies. A recent global survey by AON found 82% of respondents believe wellbeing is important within their organisations.

The COVID pandemic, in particular, has negatively impacted employee wellbeing. A study found that there was a 57% increase in anxiety and a 21% increase in medications related to emotional wellbeing during this time. This reduction in wellbeing has been linked to workplace-related factors such as the switch to remote working and the increased risk of business failure during the pandemic.

What are the red flags?

The concept of employee wellbeing can feel quite touchy-feely and nebulous. Practically, employers should gauge how their employees are doing across the following dimensions:

1. Emotional - Attitudes and reactions to daily living;
2. Physical - Ability to function with energy and make healthy choices;
3. Work life - Positive work experiences that produce pride, satisfaction and value;
4. Social - Capacity to thrive through meaningful connections and relationships;
5. Financial - Ability to confidently manage financial life today, while preparing for the future and anything unexpected along the way.

A recent study found that the top three causes of poor wellbeing globally are stress (67%), burnout (46%) and anxiety (37%).

What can employers do about it?

So, my employees are stressed, burned out and anxious. What do I do about it?

The first step is to acknowledge the issue. Showing you care and plan to do something about it is a great first step.

A relatively quick and practical next step is to subscribe to an employee assistance programme (EAP). These programmes typically provide 24/7 access to skilled tele-counsellors who can help employees identify their stressors and develop plans to deal with them. They cover everything from psycho-social and trauma support to legal and financial guidance, and facilitate referrals for in-person support as required.

In addition to providing immediate support to employees, who otherwise have nowhere to turn, these programmes help employers get to the root of what’s causing stress and anxiety in their organisations.

There are a number of good EAP providers in SA, including Reality Wellness, ICAS and Kaelo.

Financial health in particular

Financial health is a particular problem in South Africa, with many employees heavily indebted and unable to make ends meet at the end of the month. By signing up for a good EAP, employers enable their employees to access debt counselling and debt review when required. This can lead to debt being set aside or consolidated into lower cost alternatives.

After debt, funeral cover is often an employee’s biggest single expense. Funerals are an important part of South African culture and this – along with emotional selling – has led to many people having multiple, expensive funeral policies.

By helping their staff access better value life and funeral cover, employers can free up a lot of cash – up to 80% - for their employees, thereby reducing their financial stress materially. They can do this by taking out a group policy that covers their staff or by getting a retail broker in to review each employee’s policies and replace them with a consolidated, better value alternative.

Historically clunky and lots of effort, the emergence of EAPs and inexpensive, online insurance providers – such as www.simply.co.za – has made life and funeral solutions for employees accessible for all businesses. With minimal cost and effort, employers can now bring financial peace-of-mind to their employees.

The key role of brokers

As simple as the new online products are, employers and employees often need a little help navigating the process. This is where brokers come in. They can offer these low-cost products to individuals and companies, bringing the best of advice and digital simplicity together in a single package.

Conclusion

Financial wellbeing for employees in smaller South African companies is now a reality at low cost, thanks to the availability of effective, affordable EAPs and modern, online insurance companies. And it is a no brainer investment for employers – happy employees are more productive. I’m convinced every rand employers spend on employee wellbeing will be repaid many times over via improved productivity, attendance and customer satisfaction.
As Richard Branson famously said: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.”

References:

https://theonebrief.com/why-workforce-wellbeing-is-vital-to-company-performance/
https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/193846/1/econ-review-v13-i1-p045-057.pdf
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319648786_The_Contribution_of_Stress_Management_and_Good_Employee_Performance_Towards_the_Success_of_a_Company

Quick Polls

QUESTION

There are countless articles written about South Africa’s poor retirement outcomes. Which of the following would you single out as the biggest contributor to local savers not accumulating enough to buy an adequate and sustainable pension?

ANSWER

Lack of personal accountability
Poor participation in formal retirement funds
Reluctance to seek financial advice early on
SA’s high unemployment rate
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