Co-founder and MD of YuLife South Africa
Of employees are stressed – that’s more than 4 in 5, with 18% finding their current job very stressful.
Employees report their employers don’t help them manage stress at all.
Of employees say support is only there when requested.
Employer support is varied. Only 1 in 5 employers are very active in preventing and managing employee stress.
CEO and founder of Modern Breed
Say the provision of more workplace benefits (e.g. improved pension plan & health insurance) would persuade them to stay.
Of employees want the provision of more and improved mental health and wellness programmes.
Want the opportunity to have greater flexibility in working arrangements.
Inability to get along with other colleagues
Unsatisfactory employee benefits
Lack of recognition
Lack of growth or learning opportunities
Chief People Officer, Adcorp
of South African employees are a lot more likely to stay at an organisation that tracks and measures employee wellbeing.
Organisations that ask about HR initiatives
Organisations that ask about company sustainability impact and ESG data
Organisations that ask about mental wellbeing
Organisations that ask about managers
Organisations that ask about workplace culture
Organisations that ask about employee satisfaction
Organisations that ask about physical activity
Chief People Officer, Adcorp
Flexible working conditions (ie hybrid, flexible hours)
Benefits available to employees (eg leave, health and wellbeing benefits etc)
The ambitions of the company (ie founder mentality)
Culture of the team
Culture of the company
Opportunities for career growth
Number of leave days 11%
Mental wellness offering for you and your direct family 7%
Access to free basic healthcare (virtual GP) 9%
Wellbeing tools 15%
Medical Aid 17%
Pension and/or provident fund 17%
Group life cover (income protection, funeral, life cover, lump sum disability) 24%
Less than once a year
of SA companies conduct employee surveys, but only 15% have an internal dashboard that measures employee feedback in real time.
of employees would be a lot more willing, and 28% slightly more willing.
would be more willing to give data/feedback to HR/leadership if they knew exactly how it would be used in decision making.
Chief People Officer, Adcorp
Feel fairly or very cared for by their employee wellbeing programmes but 31% feel a varying degree of ineffectiveness.
Of employees would be a lot more honest, and 22% slightly more honest if they knew how employee feedback was being used.
Co-founder and MD of YuLife South Africa
In an unstable economic climate, indefensible areas of expenditure can become easy prey to budget cuts. Fortunately, the advent of technological advancements has introduced a new set of tools that HR professionals can leverage to gather information and maintain streamlined processes. Through proper implementation, companies can assess the effectiveness of their business strategies, refine organisational procedures, optimise resources, and enhance the overall employee experience.
Research shows that organisations that look after the wellbeing of their employees, have a positive impact on productivity levels and on reducing absenteeism rates. This ultimately impacts the business’ bottomline.
But how do you incorporate your employees’ data and feedback in the decision-making process when it comes to enhancing the overall company culture, ESG goals, and more?
“It starts by listening to what employees request in our employee engagement feedback. For example, we have an entire dimension that measures employees’ social impact.
“We then incorporate this feedback into our overall strategy. , In the instance of our ESG strategy, we create opportunities and platforms for our employees to participate in our social strategy allowing them to give back and make an impact.”
“We use selected metrics from chosen frameworks to measure our success. We set targets and measure progress against these targets annually.”
The World Happiness Index, an annual UN assessment of national happiness, put South Africa at a low 85th place, behind Algeria (81st), Vietnam (65th) and the Russian Federation (70th).
How much of this is related to business? Unfortunately, research by Floatpays suggests that both the workplace environment and financial stress are impacting people negatively.
Morgan Stanley's State of the Workplace Study 2023 reports that 88% of HR leaders report that employees have requested benefits the company doesn't offer. The current trend is for South African businesses to reduce their investment in the wellbeing of their employees when times get tough, but employees are demanding additional workplace wellbeing support.
According to Morgan Stanley, nearly nine in 10 HR leaders offer employees financial wellness programs. With inflation hitting hard and the cost-of-living crisis continuing apace, employees are desperate for financial wellbeing support. PWC's survey data shows that 60% of full-time employees are stressed about finances, an even higher figure than during the peak of the pandemic.
With predictions that mental health conditions, if left untreated, could potentially cost the South African economy an astonishing R161 billion, the HR profession is increasingly seeing this as a crisis, not least because South Africa came bottom on the mental health wellbeing scale in the Mental State of the World 2022 report.
Professor Renata Schoeman — head of Healthcare Leadership at Stellenbosch Business School — explains in this interview how many employees are now getting the worst of both worlds. "During COVID, we started using our time differently," she explains. "We were having back-to-back online meetings. And now suddenly we have to commute again but we still have back-to-back meetings. So people feel they need to create more time to fit in the levels of productivity we had before."
This program could include access to mental health support, financial wellness counselling, and physical wellbeing programmes.
It helps to have a robust and valuable benefits programme which is well-communicated, engaging, and easily accessible by employees.
Such as the ability to work in a hybrid environment and the ability to manage their personal and professional responsibilities. At the same time, guard against remote workers feeling isolated and alone, either by mixing virtual and real-world working, hosting regular events and/or building daily togetherness rituals.
Ask yourself: is it a ‘tick box’ exercise within your business or are you giving employees what they need to thrive? Are the benefits providing the best value to employees, or could an alternative provider offer more? Are you leveraging new technologies effectively, and driving engagement with employees… or just doing things in the same old, inaccessible way?
Encourage employees to take breaks and time off, and consider how best to support their work-life needs. Don't assume this will automatically damage the bottom line. After all, as freelancers will tell you: often the fewer hours people work, the more productive and creative they are.
“If you can build your hybrid or remote setup around established leadership values, then at least you know that you are always moving in the right direction,” says Erik. “Keep an open mind and know that the way forward is through experimentation, failure, and iteration. We are all still trying to figure this out. Some are more successful than others. But the reality is that the future we are moving into is unknown. For example, who knows how forces like AI will shape hybrid and remote work? Remain open and adaptable and you will be just fine.”
“Build psychological safety and trust. Those who are in the office are likely to feel more included than those who aren’t. Therefore, they might speak up more because they feel more valued. How will you continue to include those who aren’t at the office and make them feel valued too?”
“Create crystal clear alignment, so people know what is expected from them: alignment about the work that must be done and alignment on how the work is done.”
“Not just on the channels of communication, but on what we communicate and how we communicate it. If you are constantly focused on improving the team environment, aligning behaviours, and communicating effectively then you cannot go wrong.”
"Sometimes people think vulnerability is a weakness, but it's a big value. As a company, we de-stigmatise mental health because of the way that our leaders are vulnerable and open to talking about it."
"Wellbeing starts with the culture you're creating. It needs to be driven from the top down," he explains. “Your entire leadership team needs to buy into this culture of employee wellbeing, and then it is easier to create a culture where employees feel valued and cared for.”
"We have a lot of weekly interactions with our team. For instance, once a week, the South African team get together and update each other about what is happening in our personal lives. This helps us to understand where people are at - both professionally and personally.”
“Social wellbeing is one of the biggest determinants of longevity: it's bigger than even eating healthily. I think wellness is partly about having a sense of belonging, and that people feel they're cared for by the employer.”
"A lot of wellbeing initiatives are very fragmented. They are either too costly for most people, too inaccessible, or too difficult to achieve the desired reward. People often don't know where to access their wellbeing services, but once you collate them in an easy-to-use employee app, they're visible and people are much more likely to use them.”
"As employers, we need to deliver wellbeing on a day-to-day basis for everyone. We also need to learn from other industries about how to keep people engaged. This is where gamification has become a key driver of engagement. We also need to make wellbeing simpler for people to use. People don't need to run a marathon, they just need to do five minutes of walking or a quick meditation a day to get them going. Building simple daily habits will have a longer lasting effect on employees’ overall wellbeing.”
Our award-winning app uses behavioural science and game mechanics to reward people for living well while offering protection in case of crisis. And with our top-rated employee assistance programme, your team gets access to mental, financial and social support, virtual GPs, nutritionists, life coaches and more to help them live their best lives.
Because we believe that your employees should benefit from their insurance from day one – and that wellbeing should be accessible every day, for everyone.
The YuLife SA employee wellbeing survey was conducted in July 2023 by Ipsos and surveyed 700 formally employed workers across South Africa. The demographics of the surveyed individuals consisted of:
Gender: 56% males and 44% Females Age breakdown: 43% between 35 and 49, 36% between 25 and 34, 11% between 50 and 65, 10% between 18 and 24. Provincial split: 32% GP, 19% KZN, 14% WC, 9% EC, 7% MP, 6% LP, 6% NW, 5% FS, 4% NC