Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Health Challenges in South African Automotive Companies: Wellness in the Workplace

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Health Challenges in South African Automotive Companies: Wellness in the Workplace

Article excerpt

Introduction

A healthy, well-trained, highly qualified and motivated workforce is critical for organisations' competitiveness in the global market. The workplace has been identified and has become a key health-promoting setting worldwide with corporate strategies and interventions directed at enhancing employees' health and well-being (Burton, 2010; Dornan & Jane-Llopis, 2010; ILO, 2009; Van Wyngaardt, 2010). In most countries, workplace wellness-promoting strategies focus on health and safety, lifestyle and psychosocial factors (Burton, 2010). In South Africa, health matters in the workplace are regulated by a predominant labour approach to occupational health and safety as outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993). The HIV and AIDS pandemic however has necessitated a more public health approach to health matters as more focused HIV and AIDS initiatives are required and encouraged by the International Labour Organisation's Recommendation 200 (ILO, 2010). It is argued that company initiatives can slow down the HIV infection rate and reduce human suffering by improving knowledge regarding HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), facilitate access to HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and the timely support and treatment of HIV-infected employees and their partners (Department of Labour, 2000, 2012). The South African private sector, various corporate structures like the South African Business Coalition on Health and AIDS (SABCOHA), the Automotive Industry Development Centre Eastern Cape (AIDC EC) and international donor organisations responded by advocating and supporting the implementation of HIV and AIDS workplace programmes (HAWPs). Strong support was developed for the integration of HAWPs into broader workplace wellness programmes (WWPs) (SABCOHA, 2012). Workplace wellness is currently high on the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) agenda and reporting on health initiatives as part of companies' statutory reporting is being discussed as it is considered to be beneficial to businesses and socioeconomic development (Mail & Guardian, 2015).

Purpose

Whilst many South African organisations have responded to the challenges posed by the HIV epidemic by implementing HAWPs, others have been slow to respond. The automotive component manufacturing sector seems to face challenges in this regard. One important factor might be perceptions that a workplace programme only focusing on HIV and AIDS is unlikely to successfully address their health challenges. According to the Healthy Company Index, a study conducted by Discovery in 2014 amongst 151 South African companies in partnership with the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe, the three most prevalent health concerns reported by employers are stress, blood pressure and cholesterol, whilst employees' most prevalent chronic diseases are high blood pressure, depression and diabetes (Discovery, 2014). Although the importance of addressing HIV and AIDS in the workplace is widely supported and governed by guidelines and policies, it is likely that the implementation of HAWPs is hampered when companies are not convinced that HIV and AIDS is the main negative health influencing factor responsible for increased production costs. The question arises whether comprehensive wellness programmes addressing various negative health influencing factors impacting organisations' production costs would not be considered more acceptable whilst simultaneously also providing the necessary platform to address HIV and AIDS. Little is however known of the health conditions perceived to negatively impact production costs of companies in the automotive sector.

The aim of this descriptive study was therefore to gain a better understanding of the health conditions perceived to negatively influence the production costs of South African companies in the automotive manufacturing sector and their related responses to enable a more informed view of appropriate responses to their health challenges. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.