CFOs discuss effective workforce health strategies to drive the bottom line

“It is important to understand that the wellness component and the health component are not the same thing and it’s not just a tick the box exercise,” said Jo Pohl, chief financial officer at Telesure Group. Jo was speaking at the event on 22 June 2016, where CFOs discussed effective workforce health and wellness strategies to drive the bottom line.

The event was hosted at the Sandton headquarters of financial services group Alexander Forbes, kindly made available by acting CEO Deon Viljoen, who was CFO of the Year in 2015. Partners for the event were KPMG and Standard Bank. Glenda Noemdoe, Group Head: Employee and Wellness at the bank, connected with the CFO community through a great presentation on absenteeism, incapacity and building personal resilience.

Under the theme 'Why you can't ignore workforce health and related metrics if you want to drive the bottom line', Jo was joined in the discussion by award-winning ABI CFO Walter Leonhardt and Craig Sumption, CFO at Hatch Africa. The panel discussion chaired by CFO South Africa MD Graham Fehrsen stimulated a conversation on how workforce health strategies and the way they are measured, have a direct impact on employees, products, services and most importantly, on customers.

CFOs were challenged to share to about their respective organisation's health strategies, how they are implemented and who should be the driving force behind them.

Although the wellness component is often seen as an HR driving model, both Craig and Jo agreed that constant engagement with employees by CFOs is crucial and goes a long way in creating an environment where employees will feel important and valued, and thus reflects on the outcome of their work.

"Due to the nature of our business, which is an hourly cost based, it is a lot more easier for us to raise the topic and we believe that the healthier our people are, the better some of our methods are going to be," said Craig.

"After raising that conversation, we then begin to talk about the fact that we want our employees to be healthier and what we are going to be doing to drive that, and to increase their awareness of being healthy." - Craig Sumption, CFO at Hatch Africa

Jo said that transparency is key, and that the wellness topic should not only be a dealt with on the exco level, but to be more around on the broader population.

(Photo on the right: Butsi Tladi, MD Alexander Forbes Health opening the event)

Walter highlighted that employees want consistency in the office and CFOs should consider more programmes that encourage interaction and motivate employees to stay healthy.

Giving insight into a practical approach of employee health and wellness programmes, Glenda Noemdoe (pictured below), Group Head: Employee and Wellness at Standard Bank Group gave an extensive presentation touching on the issue of absenteeism, incapacity and building personal resilience.

"In a high pressured and demanding work environment, we need employees who are able to take care of their wellbeing and are resilient in order to perform optimally within the organisation," said Glenda. "When rethinking the wellness programme, both organisations and employees need to be high performers, identify the risks, consult and get support and relevant resources to address those risks".

As a successful change programme initiator, Glenda has developed and implemented wellness programmes for Standard Bank and other and her latest campaign launching across the globe is a mobile-app. "With our campaign rolling out in July, we will include email notifications, financial fitness, personal resilience, managing stress, embracing changes and for all those activities, employees will earn points," said Glenda

Bringing back the discussion to our panelist, the general consensus was that CFOs themselves need to "walk-the-talk" and participate on the activities that encourage health and well being, for example weight competitions, incentives activities, departmental football teams an so on.

"Getting key leaders enthusiastic about something can help stimulate enthusiasm and participation among employees, encourage them to follow or join certain programmes that promote interest in health and wellness," said Craig

While Jo felt that "a lot of it is going to be a culture shift; directors need to start by genuinely doing things on the floor, talking to people, going to the coffee shop and be actively involved in conversations".

Discovery Health CFO Brett Tromp, who attended the event, spoke of the fact that organisations are about people, and people want companies that value them and where they know they will benefit. "The world is heading to a place where the health of the workforce has a huge impact in the overall activity of the businesses, investors and other people are interested knowing how that is measured," he said

To wrap up the event, Graham closed with a statement highlighting the essence of what workforce health and wellness means. "Ultimately where we get to with wellness and health is how we report on the communication that drives it back into the business and stakeholders and what we are trying to achieve," he said.

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