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Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 09:24
Not very well

Latest figures from Statistics South Africa reveal that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are close to reaching epidemic proportions. While tuberculosis still remains the biggest killer in this country, these so-called “lifestyle diseases”, which include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer, among many others, are accounting for more and more deaths.

Comments Dr Jacques Snyman, Managing Director of Integrated Care Solutions at Agility, “These diseases have a particularly devastating effect on businesses and productivity levels.”
As if this were not enough, the economy is suffering under persistent labour unrest and disconcerting trends in absenteeism, serious damaging the country’s ability to compete globally.
For example, “South Africa is fast slipping down global competiveness rankings with a 500% increase in sick leave since 2001,” Snyman points out. A mammoth R19 billion is lost every year due to absenteeism. “Most companies completely underestimate the true impact of employee ill-health on the sustainability and productivity of a business.
“It may seem like an obvious thing to do but investing in the health of your workforce is a business imperative that can result in higher levels of productivity, decreased rates of absenteeism and increased profits for the business.”
South Africa, unlike many other countries, suffers from a quadruple burden of disease, namely infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, non-communicable diseases, and high rates of interpersonal violence and injuries. These can all result in a loss of valued skill and expertise, a decrease in productivity and profits, psychological problems and stress with a dependence on alcohol and drugs often compounding the issue.
The World Health Organisation estimates that NCDs will be the most common cause of death by 2030, far outstripping deaths from infectious diseases, maternal, perinatal and nutritional diseases combined.
He asserts that with appropriate planning and management corporate South Africa is ideally positioned to reverse these worrying trends. “Because businesses can reach large segments of the population they can not only improve the health and wellbeing and ultimately productivity of their own workforce but can also play an integral role in improving the overall healthcare outcomes of South Africans across the board.
“Forward thinking employers need to understand that while a healthy workforce can be their most valuable asset, it can also potentially become their biggest liability if inappropriately managed," notes Snyman. It is becoming increasingly important for businesses in today's volatile labour and economic climate to adopt comprehensive employee wellness programmes to manage the risks associated with human capital.
The perfect employee wellness programme should be modular while offering a customised human capital risk solution to individual businesses, regardless of their size and the industry in which they operate. If correctly implemented this can substantially reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, enhance loyalty to the company, and create a healthier, fitter and happier workforce while better managing potential liabilities and human capital expenses.
“One of the greatest challenges facing South African employers nowadays is to achieve a balance between keeping operational costs manageable while maintaining high productivity levels within a harmonious workplace. Without doubt, attractive staff benefits coupled with a pleasant, safe working environment can go a long way towards ensuring a productive, healthy and stable workforce,” he says. Any workplace wellness programme worth its salt should assist employers in the implementation of solutions that proactively address these challenges while taking full cognizance of South Africa's distinctive health profile into account. They appear to be unaware of the tremendous savings that can be derived by implementing a flexible policy that will limit risk and manage human capital effectively," he adds
His company owns the “Zurreal4employers programme”, which is an integrated and holistic human capital and risk management solution. It seeks to provide corporate South Africa with a wellness programme that helps address employee ill-health. Zurreal4employers also offers a range of solutions to employers who wish to harness the benefits that a well-managed and healthy workforce can provide.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:27.5 1st May, 2014
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