Standard Bank operates a corporate wellness initiative internally aimed at assisting employees in managing their health through various initiatives such as family planning, independent counselling and advisory services (ICAS) and wellness champions.
As part of corporate health, the bank provides guidance, support and education in the management of the HIV-Aids pandemic and the effect this disease has on staff.
This initiative acts as a vehicle that integrates wellbeing into the fabric of the organisation and is managed by experts in order to enhance individual functioning, promote better work satisfaction and morale, improve the quality and productivity of work, and create a supportive workplace climate and culture.
The service is comprehensive, flexible, accessible, professional, highly responsive and importantly, accountable.
ICAS' single strategic objective is to provide clients with a broad employee assistance programme (EAP) of the highest international standards that is effective as well as valued and respected by staff and management alike.
The primary goal of the EAP is to inform and skill employees to take ownership of their wellbeing, and to provide them with the necessary support to make informed decisions regarding their professional and personal lives.
A major differentiator in the way Standard Bank manages the HIV-Aids pandemic as part of the wellness programme is how the organisation addresses and manages risk and in how staff are empowered to make a change.
Head of corporate health at Standard Bank Peter Philip explains: "Standard Bank has taken a pragmatic approach to the disease by investing in positive agents of change called wellness champions whose main function is to offer information and support to colleagues and members of their communities who are facing and or fighting HIV-Aids.
"They are passionate and have assisted in ensuring that we address this disease effectively and with dignity.
They enter the programme voluntarily and, as part of their role, offer education and support to their peers and the communities they live in by utilising a powerful tool called "Bridges of Hope". This is an actual bridge designed to demonstrate how with the right kind of support challenges such as HIV-Aids can be overcome. "Bridges of Hope" is based on storytelling in many cultures in Africa and in the countries in which Standard Bank operates.