The COVID-19 outbreak has changed how businesses operate. It’s forced companies to rethink their operation processes and venture more into the work-from-home setup. While flexible hours and remote working has been happening across the world, South Africa still needs to play catch up.
Working from home has its benefits for employers such as cutting costs on electricity and internet, lower absenteeism, and being able to retain top employees regardless of how far they live from the office. For employees, on the other hand, they no longer need to spend hours on the road commuting, which helps to improve productivity and their work-life balance. While we cannot ignore these benefits, it still can affect employees’ health and wellness even post COVID-19. Many people are struggling with loneliness, heightened anxiety and the need to develop a healthy work-life balance.
As an employer, it is in your best interest to ensure your employees are physically, mentally and emotionally well. Not just to support your bottom line, but to ensure you do not lose your valuable employees. This is regardless of whether you plan on opening the office full-time, have flexible hours or completely move into remote working. Below are five important yet easy steps your business can take in supporting your employees’ health and wellness now and post the pandemic.
Ensure employees do not feel alone
During this period, you need to ensure that your employees do not feel alone.
Feelings of uncertainty are still going to be an issue even post-pandemic as the economy will take time to recover. Your employees are aware of this, either by seeing their family members being laid off or experience pay cuts. The information on the news has shown them that South Africa still faces economic challenges, causing stress that can foster an unproductive environment for your employees. Which, in turn, leads to lower productivity and quality of work, and higher turnover.
To combat this, you need to be transparent with your employees and inform them of what is happening and how the future looks for the business. You can also incorporate daily or weekly check-ins via video call to replicate in-person meetings. Encouraging other forms of communication in addition to email is a practical way of ensuring your staff feels like they’re a part of a team.
Find ways to alleviate employee stress
As mentioned above, employees are feeling alone, and they are worried about what the future holds for them. They’re concerned about their safety once they’ll return to work, and they’re worried about their families. Now is the right time to offer your employees health benefits and more.
The coronavirus pandemic has made people more aware of the need for a funeral cover, life insurance and some form of medical assistance. However, with the state of the South African economy, the realisation has come with disappointment, as many employees cannot afford to get additional cover for themselves and their loved ones. As an employer, you can support your employees and alleviate stress by offering them group insurance cover with us. At African Unity Life Ltd, we offer a group life scheme with different types of employee benefits in South Africa. Our group cover includes funeral cover, life cover, credit life cover, travel insurance and health benefits for employees. This will ensure that your employees have peace of mind, without being anxious about their, or their family’s health.
Create challenges that will support their wellbeing and wellness
To support your employees holistically, you need to think about their struggles. Being cooped up at home means they might not be getting enough vitamin D; they aren’t eating healthy meals and aren’t taking breaks. This leads to lower productivity. While you will be offering them employee healthcare benefits, it’s also vital that you encourage your workers to stay healthy both mentally and physically.
To achieve this, you can:
- Encourage them to take their lunch break or a break between work to get fresh air.
- Remind them of the importance of creating a workspace where it’s only dedicated to work. This will allow them to create a work-life balance.
- Set financial goals while they’re away from the office. For example, you can have a challenge of keeping the money they would have spent on coffee or lunch in a jar and see how much they save in a month. This will help them see that although things are difficult financially, they still can save, no matter how “small” it may seem.
- Allow those who are comfortable with coming to the office from time to time the chance to do so. But, make sure that you take note of potential exposure of COVID-19 in the workplace and see what you can do to change that. For example, checking staff's temperatures before entering the office. This can help them get a mental break, especially if they live in a full house.
- Inform them of free apps they can download on their smartphones that can help relieve stress.
Whether or not remote working is something your business is looking into post-pandemic, creating an environment now that supports your workers’ health and wellness is an effective way of helping them now and post-pandemic. Offering a holistic approach will ensure your employees feel empowered to tackle the current challenges and continue to produce quality work.
At African Unity Life Ltd, we believe that we can be a part of offering your employees the support they need during and after the pandemic. We all are also aware that although it’s needed funeral cover, a hospital plan and life insurance in South Africa are costly. Which is why we offer tailored group health scheme benefits and more to ensure it’s affordability and that you have happy employees. Therefore, if you’re in need of health insurance benefits for employees or any other life cover, contact us; a licensed life insurer and an authorised Financial Services Provider FSP NO. 8447.