Employee wellbeing: Technology, burnout, finances and a pandemic

As CHROs’ attention moved from crisis mode to change management, employee wellness in its many dimensions came to the fore this year.

Employee wellbeing, mental health and burnout remained top of mind for CHROs leading their organisations through waves of unprecedented change. Remote working, restructurings and uncertainty have placed the focus on employee wellbeing like never before.

Dimension Data’s head of applications for Southern Africa, Lauren Wortmann shares that as the pandemic progressed they were able to realise the value of a hybrid workplace and saw how important employee experience is, and how organisations are beginning to drive value through employee wellness programmes.

Read more: Lauren Wortmann says CHROs who embraced technology reduced employees’ anxiety levels - CHRO South Africa

Lana Hindmarch, a facilitator and leadership development and wellbeing specialist at Breathe, explains that well-meaning companies have offered company-wide mental health shutdowns, wellness programmes, yoga classes, EAP programmes, self-care content and so on, to support employees to manage and prevent burnout.

Unfortunately, this ignores the science of what burnout is and what causes it, and therefore fails to address the issue.

Read more: Wake up, leaders! Burnout is not what you think - CHRO South Africa

Biggest stressors
Fear of loss of income and the fear of losing a family member to Covid-19 went head-to-head as the biggest stress factors of the last year for many working professionals.

This is according to Profmed’s 2021 Stress Index, which revealed that 42 percent of respondents are affected emotionally, physically and mentally by stress.

Read more: Work-related stress the biggest health concern - CHRO South Africa

Pandemic-related stress
High levels of pandemic-related stress and poor ergonomics for at-home working are leading to an increase in disability claims. The South African Society of Psychiatrists reports that mental health is the biggest threat in 2021.

The high level of stress associated with the pandemic is making people more vulnerable to depression and anxiety, with as many as one in six South Africans presenting with anxiety, depression or substance abuse.

Read more: Eight high-value ways to manage mental and behavioural conditions in the workplace - CHRO South Africa

Financial wellness
Mental health, emotional wellbeing, and financial fitness are interlinked. At this year’s virtual HR Indaba, an Impact Session focused on helping employees weather the extra stress that Covid-19 has added to employees’ already strained financial situations.

Read more: HR Indaba session looks at the importance of employees’ financial wellness - CHRO South Africa.