Employee health and wellness practices in South Africa
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Research regarding employee health and wellness programmes is lacking in South Africa. The objective of this research was thus to describe employee health and wellness in South Africa by investigating the management and infrastructure of employee health and wellness programmes (EHWPs), and to investigate the role that legislation and management standards can play in promoting employee health and wellness. The sample is cross-sectional' and surveys perspectives on employee health and wellness of 16 organisations (n = 16), service providers (n = 4) of employee health and wellness programmes (EHWPs), and labour unions (n = 7) in South Africa. Employee health and wellness management in South Africa was researched by investigating the types, foci and perceived success of employee health and wellness programmes. The results show that employee health and wellness is defined differently by role players within the sector and that reasons for, and perceptions about reasons for, implementation across organisations, service providers and labour unions also differ. Almost half of the participating organisations have no baseline measurement with which to compare the effectiveness of their EHWPs. Generally, results of programmes are reasonably presented in all the organisations, and yet funding of programmes amounts to very little overall cost. Employee health and wellness programmes' infrastructure and information management systems were also investigated. An assessment was made of the educational requirements of employee health and wellness staff, and the need for further required training was identified. Further objectives included determining whether there is a return on investment on the employee health and wellness programme by investigating injuries, sickness, absenteeism, stress and HIV/AIDS management within organisations. The general conclusion was that, although organisations claim to be running employee health and wellness programmes, at the utmost these can be regarded as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), functioning at different levels of efficiency. Recommendations were made regarding adequate employee health and wellness infrastructure, education and training of staff and employee health and wellness information management. Legislation that influences employee health and wellness was discussed and a literature review was done. Relevant European case studies were discussed as well as South African labour law that influences employee health and wellness. Suggestions were made regarding use of legislation and management standards to govern and promote employee health and wellness, and the onus on different relevant role-players were discussed.