Gcobisa Ntshona discusses how LexisNexis is promoting employee wellness
The exco has come up with a ‘go-slow week’ and a ‘pyjama day’ – and even exco joins in.
Mental health has become one of the biggest workplace challenges since the Coronavirus outbreak in 2020.
Workers are struggling to manage evolving work dynamics; financial problems are also increasing and this has resulted in many organisations prioritising mental health to avoid a decline in productivity and prevent burnout.
Gcobisa Ntshona from LexisNexis shared how they are playing their part as an organisation in safeguarding employee mental health.
“We noted from employee surveys and informal discussions that there was a growing sense of fatigue, overwhelm and reduced mental wellness in pockets of the organisation. While some of this is understandable, given the jarring year many of us have experienced, our executive team takes these indicators seriously and set out to provide additional support to our workforce to ensure the optimal mental and physical wellbeing of our people,” she explains.
Gcobisa says one example was that often, if employees needed to go on leave, they would become anxious about their workload and work commitments.
“This resulted in employees not wanting to take leave and as an exco we sat down and thought of initiatives we could put in place to make things easy for our employees,” she says.
One of the suggestions was to introduce a LexisNexis Wellness Week.
“This week would allow for the flexibility of having few to no meetings, to start the day very late and do it at your own pace, so that work is still happening but you have the room to breathe and think.”
For one full week in May, employees were given the opportunity to recharge, rethink and realign, so that they were all revitalised and ready to forge ahead. Everybody was encouraged to take it slow all at once.
Gcobisa says in motivating this initiative LexisNexis ran competitions, for example awarding the person who had the most relaxed calendar. “We also had a pyjama day and even the exco joined in because managers need to model the good behaviours we all speak about.”
She mentions that they ended the week with a burnout and stress workshop. “We wanted our employees to be able to identify the signs and be able to manage stress and burnout.”
Gcobisa says because this was such a huge success and fun for everyone in the company, they are thinking of doing it once every so often.
Some other initiatives that Gcobisa says they have implemented are:
• Mute Hour: Before 9am there must no meetings so that people can plan their day well.
• On Fridays there are no strategic meetings.
• Friday Connect: This is where teams do activities together, sharing recipes, making cocktails, watching movies, and exercising together online.
“We have also partnered intensely with Discovery and they do workshops in helping new dads, mental wellbeing, burnout and gender-based violence, helping managers to spot GBV, to see the signs and what they can do to accommodate employees who are going through it.”
Gcobisa shares that they have ensured that senior members and exco members participate because people model their leaders.
She adds that now on their agenda they are planning a comedy night and a concert where employees can all get entertained and relaxed.
Gcobisa shared four pieces of advice for other companies on the employee wellbeing journey:
1. Walk the talk: “Whatever is proposed or planned leaders must be deliberate and not only buy into it but they must participate in it.”
2. Do not only be internally focused: “Leaders must also look at what is happening externally and socially. Be cognisant of the external matters in society and how they have an effect on your employees, for example, GBV, depression and anxiety and load shedding.”
3. Listen: “Listen to the pulse of the organisation. Employees are able to identify issues, but they are also able to point out suggestions.
4. Have fun: “The last one is try to have fun. Work consumes most of our time and a little bit of fun won’t hurt.”