by Staff Reporter on 08/05/12 at 7:36 am
Better working environments can reduce absenteeism, saving the economy billions per year. The country’s best employers boast a 46% lower rate of absenteeism than the average South African company, recent research has shown. Their staff are healthier, and work more often, for longer.
The Best Employers Certification Index, which is carried out by the CRF Institute, lists the top employers in various countries across the world, primarily evaluating their performance on their HR policies and practices. According to the survey, employers with the best HR systems in place are not only more productive and profitable, their rate of absenteeism is nearly half that of their competitors.
“Absenteeism comes at no small cost to companies,” says Samantha Crous, South African Manager of the CRF Institute. “Unscheduled absences are at an all-time high since 1999 and the total cost of absence can amount to up to 36% of payroll.” Furthermore, according to the Professional Assignments Group, absent employees cost the South African economy roughly R12 billion each year – enough, for example, to provide roughly 225 000 additional houses to destitute South Africans, or provide 2 million South Africans with Antiretroviral drugs every year!”
“Worryingly, recent reports show that two of three absences are not owing to physical illness, and there is a rising incidence of stress-related ailments,” says Crous. “Absenteeism can be reduced by giving employees a working environment they don’t want to avoid, maximising wellbeing and minimising stress.”
Best Employers are achieving this through better HR management, Crous believes. “Best Employers are certified by the CRF Institute according to a wide range of possible areas of employee wellbeing, from flexibility to career development, diversity management and employee wellness. Assuming their investment in these areas results in increased employee engagement, it comes as no surprise that such companies boast a higher level of productivity.”
The Joburg Market, a certified Best Employer which is also ranked as one of the top 10 Best Empowered Employers, says it considers the reduction of absenteeism a high priority – to the extent that monthly management reporting contains absenteeism numbers for management planning. Ashwin Bhoolia, acting Senior HR Manager, says that to mitigate the scourge of absenteeism, they have two nurses on site who service the primary medical needs of the staff.
“These practitioners also run preventative health care measures in the form of events like wellness days and fun sports days, as well as commemorating World Aids Day and the HIV candlelight memorial to keep employees educated and alert to their personal health and wellbeing. All this is in an effort to reduce absenteeism and encourage healthy, happy employees,” Bhoolia says.
“We take the health and wellbeing of our employees very seriously,” says Wezi Khoza, Group Wellness Specialist at Absa, which ranked as one of the top five Most Flexible Best Employers in the 2011/2012 certification. “Healthy and well-balanced people are more productive as employees and community members. We view wellness as more than just physical health and therefore also focus on financial fitness, offering preferential banking solutions, financial services and debt rehabilitation services to all employees.”
Another certified Best Employer, Liberty Life, says it achieves greater profitability by ensuring employees understand they are valued from the start. “Liberty offers employees the best of all worlds,” says Liesel Dentlinger, Divisional Director: Human Resources. “Having an engaged workforce calculates to an increase in productivity and a decrease in absenteeism, as our employees feel that they are adding value to the organisation.
“We firmly believe that our success lies in the quality of the people who we employ. The wellbeing of our people is important to us, as people are the driving force behind delivery. We focus on continually building morale and retaining our people across the company.
“We not only comply with legislation, but have taken extra steps to make our organisation a great place to work”.
“It’s a global trend that competitive businesses cannot afford to ignore,” says Crous. “In terms of profitability, you can’t do better than a network of loyal, passionate employees who love what they do and want to do it better.
“By offering employees support for their wellbeing, education and personal development, smart companies are creating a meaningful give-and-take relationship that is more likely to last.”
To learn more about SA’s Best Employers Certification Index, visit, www.bestemployers.co.za.
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