26 March 2007

Save with corporate wellness

The growing popularity of corporate wellness programmes in South Africa is set to dramatically cut the country’s annual R12bn absenteeism bill, says Discovery Vitality.

The growing popularity of Corporate Wellness Programmes in South Africa is set to dramatically cut the country’s annual R12 billion absenteeism bill and improve productivity, according to a press release from Discovery Vitality.

Dr Craig Nossel, Deputy General Manager of Discovery Vitality, which recently launched an employee wellness programme called Vitality Wellpoint, says that South African companies systematically underestimate the total costs of absenteeism and are often at a loss on how to deal with the problem.

Workplace wellness programmes are organised programmes that are intended to assist employees and their family members in making voluntary behaviour changes.

Not just a nice to have
“Wellness programmes are seen globally as a workplace strategy, not just a nice to have. They make a huge impact on the bottom line because health really matters in the workplace,” the statement said.

According to the US Association of Labour Management Administrators and Consultants, each rand invested in wellness typically results in a 300 to 500% cost saving.

Dr Nossel says that wellness programmes are highly efficient vehicles to tackle absenteeism and is optimistic that as they take off in South Africa, there will be a nationwide reduction of absenteeism through better management of its drivers.

“Because timely and insightful information is generated from wellness programmes, employers can address problems early with tailored staff interventions. They’ll also be able to understand the causes of absenteeism and better appreciate the impact of intervention options.”

A preventative and proactive approach
Dr Nossel notes that wellness programmes are designed to improve the health of staff, reduce their injury risks, improve their health consumer skills and enhance their individual productivity and well-being through a preventative and proactive approach to health care.

He points out that the benefits to a company include reduced and predictable group risk premiums, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and lower medical costs.

“Personal wellbeing is greatly improved as well. Through clinical interventions and incentives based schemes, all employers have expert assistance to deal with absenteeism issues,” he said.

Extremely good business sense
Dr Nossel says that wellness initiatives also make extremely good business sense. “Already 95% of Fortune 500 companies in the US have employee wellness programmes and there is a very strong correlation between employee wellness and improvements in workplace morale, loyalty, performance and associated reductions in organisational operating costs and of course profits,” he said.

Discovery Vitality Wellpoint was launched in September 2006 and is available to all employees, not just Discovery Health Members.

Employers on the programme enjoy a discount of between 10 to 30% on its group life premiums as an incentive to live healthier.

Source: Press release from Discovery Vitality

Read more:
Corporate SA in bad health
Focus on corporate wellness

March 2007


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