Better workplace = healthier staff
A BETTER working environment can reduce absenteeism and save the economy billions per year.
Recent research has shown that the country's best employers have a 46% lower rate of absenteeism than the average South African company. Their staff are healthier and work more, often for longer.
The Best Employers Certification Index, which is carried out by the CRF Institute, lists the top employers in countries across the world, primarily evaluating performance on their Human Resources (HR) policies and practices.
According to the survey, employers with the best HR systems are not only more productive and profitable, but also that their rate of absenteeism is nearly half that of competitors.
"Absenteeism comes at no small cost to companies," says Samantha Crous, CRF's South African manager. "Unscheduled absences are at an all-time high since 1999 and the total cost of absence can amount to up to 36% of payroll.
"According to the Professional Assignments Group, absent employees cost the South African economy about R12-billion each year. This can provide about 225000 additional houses to destitute South Africans or anti-retroviral drugs to two million people every year," she says.
"Recent reports show that two of three absences are not owing to physical illness. There is a rising incidence of stress-related ailments. Absenteeism can be reduced by giving employees a working environment they don't want to avoid, maximising wellbeing and minimising stress."
Best employers are achieving this through better HR management, Crous believes.
"CRF certifies best employers according to a range of possible areas of wellbeing, from flexibility to career development, diversity management and employee wellness. Assuming investment in these areas results in increased employee engagement, it is no surprise that such companies boast a higher level of productivity," Crous says.
The Joburg Market, a certified best employer which is also ranked as one of the top 10 best empowered employers, considers the reduction of absenteeism a priority, to the extent that monthly management reporting contains absenteeism numbers for management planning.
Ashwin Bhoolia, acting senior HR manager, says that to mitigate the scourge of absenteeism, they have two nurses on site for staff.
"The practitioners also run preventative healthcare measures such as wellness and fun sports days, commemorating World Aids Day and the HIV candlelight memorial to keep employees educated and alert to health and wellbeing. This is in an effort to reduce absenteeism and encourage healthy, happy employees," Bhoolia says.
Wezi Khoza, group wellness specialist at Absa, ranked as one of the top five most flexible best employers in 2011-2012, says: "We take the health and wellbeing of employees very seriously. Healthy and well-balanced people are more productive as employees and community members. We also focus on financial fitness, offering preferential banking solutions, financial services and debt rehabilitation services to all employees."
Another certified best employer, Liberty Life, says it achieves greater profitability by ensuring employees know they are valued.
"We offer employees the best of all worlds. An engaged workforce calculates to an increase in productivity and a decrease in absenteeism as they feel they are adding value to the organisation," says Liesel Dentlinger, divisional director: human resources.
"We firmly believe that our success lies in the quality of the people we employ. Their wellbeing is important to us as they are the driving force behind delivery. We focus on continually building morale and retaining our people.
Crous says: "In terms of profitability, you can't do better than a network of loyal, passionate employees who love what they do and want to do it better. By offering support for wellbeing, education and personal development, smart companies create a meaningful give-and-take relationship that is more likely to last."
To learn more about SA's Best Employers Certification Index, visit www.bestemployers.co.za