The rising trend of employee well-being for competitive success
By Akesh Lalla, Director: SAP SuccessFactors at SAP Africa
As we enter an age of unprecedented technological advancement with the emergence and proliferation of AI, machine learning, big data, IoT and blockchain, one truth remains: a company’s most valuable asset is its workforce. This is made even more apparent due to a scarcity of specialised skills, especially in Africa, where high unemployment is common across many developing nations.
Employees are under more pressure than ever before, thanks to the always-on workplace made possible by mobile and cloud technologies. Remote workers reportedly have up to 70% fewer friends than their office-bound peers, but even within the office environment, physical interaction with co-workers has dropped dramatically. The strained economic climate has put many employees under considerable financial stress which affects their productivity.
For decades, companies have made use of corporate wellness programmes to support a healthy and productive workforce. Traditional corporate wellness programs aimed to improve the physical health of employees: by providing opportunities or incentives for exercise, balanced nutrition, and healthy habits, employees were less likely to become burnt out or forced to take sick leave due to stress-related illness. This had the double benefit of lowering medical costs while decreasing absenteeism.
But it is no longer enough to simply care for physical well-being. Employees need a more rounded approach to their well-being in order to remain productive, creative and able to rise to the challenges of the modern workforce.
Enter the evolution of corporate wellness: employee well-being.
Prioritising total employee well-being
Modern employee well-being programmes consider five aspects for holistic health: the Mind (psychological well-being), Body (physical well-being), Connections (social well-being), Resources (financial well-being), and Motivations (providing employees with a sense of greater purpose). This last aspect – namely purpose – is especially important to millennial workers, who now account for more than half the global workforce. By tying all five aspects together, companies are better able to build resilience and agility in their workforce to deal with the challenging business environment.
According to EY, effective employee well-being programmes can increase engagement and productivity, improve the company’s brand image, strengthen their employer brand and reduce sick leave. But how does this begin?
Leveraging technology for improved employee well-being
In order to support the diverse internal and external workforces of most large organisations today, companies need to look at their end-to-end HR processes and calculate how to embed well-being into them. Employee well-being is not a siloed discipline that is the sole reserve of the HR department: stressed and burnt out employees struggle to remain engaged which directly impacts the organisation’s bottom line.
SAP’s leading human capital management platform, SAP SuccessFactors, established a ground-breaking partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global to provide access to the exclusive Thrive pathways, which are designed to improve employee well-being, productivity and encourage positive behaviour changes. These pathways are delivered via SAP Success Factors and combine machine learning and analytics to encourage fuller participation and more meaningful engagement among employees.
The machine learning capabilities further enable companies to personalise content and quantify well-being within their organisations, handing organisations invaluable insight into the most effective way to ensure a healthy and engaged workforce – whether internal or external.
As the war for talent escalates and the pressures of our always-on business environment take their toll, companies will need to rethink their approach to safeguarding the well-being of their most important assets. Technology has a powerful role to play: by providing easier ways to embed well-being in every aspect of employee engagement, companies are better able to give employees the support and guidance they need to continue to perform optimally.
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