We live in an age where sadly, despite massive inroads into medical advancements, critical illnesses seem to be more prevalent than ever. Every year at this time we are made aware of the scourge of Breast Cancer and soon in “Movember” we will see men growing moustaches in sympathy with men’s health issues like Prostate Cancer. Fortunately, with self-examination, regular medicals and the correct screening we can greatly diminish the severity of such critical illnesses and even prevent them, which led me to think about how important it is for employers in any industry to realise how vital it is, to whatever extent we can, to make employee wellness a priority. This extends to mental wellness too as some even taking their own lives as a result of stresses in the workplace has clearly illustrated.
Taking care of your people
A quote that I always try to place upper mind is one made by Sir Richard Branson which states “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. How true this is and a lesson that especially we with corporate management status should take to heart. In fairness to many industries and particularly appertaining to the travel industry, post-COVID-19 onboarding processes were haphazard, to say the least. The employee shortages as a result of enforced lay-offs were critical and people were recruited without the correct screening and training and many, without the correct qualifications, were pretty much just thrown into the deep end.
One good thing that came out of the chaos, however, is a much deeper sense of the importance of good health, family and community and the realisation that these needed to be as present in the workplace as they are in the home. It’s strange that in retrospect the pandemic, with all the misery it brought, also changed many things for the better. I can’t speak for all businesses but most certainly in the BidTravel group employee wellness has now become a vital aspect of a now far more organised, streamlined and comprehensive onboarding process.
Now, as part of our holistic approach to wellness, BidTravel offers several programmes to maintain the mental and physical well-being of our employees. These include comprehensive medical aid from top medical aid service providers and critical illness insurance cover – so necessary to provide a lump sum if an employee is ever unfortunate to fall victim to one of these. Additionally, we have Annual Wellness days when we arrange annual on-site wellness days for employees across the country. Business partners such as Discovery, Best Med, Dis-Chem, Virgin Active and ICAS offer essential health screenings and preventative tests and host free counselling sessions on the day. ICAS is, in fact, our Employee Assistance Programme which offers regular counselling and support services to employees and their families. All this goes a long way to ensuring that our employees have peace of mind, and that we maintain a healthy workforce.
Community in the workplace
The reality of today’s hectic pace is that many employees and business owners spend far more time in the workplace than at home amongst their own families and communities, and it is primarily the stresses of work and the demands placed on the employee that induce severe illnesses. It is essential, therefore, to create a sense of belonging and community within the workplace and a feeling of security when it comes to one’s health issues. As Paul Drechsler, the Chairman of Bibby Line Group said, “Good health is good business”. Let’s make it our business, therefore, as employers to recognise and execute our obligation to place a high priority on employee well-being. Our people, after all, are our most precious asset – so let’s take care of them!
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER