On renaming HR to people wellness


SilverBridge People Wellness Executive Ruth Wotela explains why they changed the name of the function.

Just as is the case with many traditional business practices, the concept of human resources (HR) is also evolving and transforming. We embarked on a journey to reposition and redefine the expectations from HR. In the process, we renamed our HR to People Wellness. Our rebranded People Wellness team reflects the importance of our people and their well-being.

HR has always been seen to fulfil an administration function in an organisation, focused mainly on putting in place and enforcing policies and procedures; formalising the structural organisation of employees; recruitment; disciplinary handling; performance management; and the administration of employee benefits and payroll.

Our People Wellness team not only ensures these aspects are taken care of but also takse time to evaluate the impact of what we do on people. It is about focusing on empowering our employees, creating a great working environment, and promoting the values that drive behaviour inside the organisation and with our clients. People wellness initiatives must revolve around driving a positive experience for employees.

The main objective of people wellness is to promote the general wellness and happiness of employees, create a well-functioning and conducive work environment for people and to encourage diversity in a broad sense. All this contributes to the experience we give our employees and their well-being.

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For the People Wellness team, we had to start asking ourselves what value we are adding to our people. Also, how are the things we do and introduce create wellness and benefit the overall strategy of the organisation? Fundamentally, it is about creating a great experience, but also continuously measuring the pulse of the organisation to become aware of and address negativity.

These components combine to direct the focus of the organisation beyond the usual administrative tasks. It is about constantly challenging the organisational way of thinking. The benefit has been that as much as it is exciting and fulfilling to see some of the value we are adding to our people and the organisation, this also adds meaning and purpose to what the team does. However, we must constantly recognise that individuals are different and experience life in different ways. It is therefore important that we provide different platforms for individuals to help us become aware of and understand better the experiences they have in the organisation.

Although individuals will always have different experiences in the organisations, those experiences need to be more positive. A people wellness team therefore needs to work closely with managers and help them effectively deal with and address these experiences. Developing effective emotional intelligence in this regard is crucial.

We can see over the past few years that our employees acknowledge the people-focused initiatives we have introduced based on the feedback we have received and find the People Wellness team more approachable to offer suggestions, discuss issues (both personal and work-related), and are keen to take part in the people wellness initiatives.

If an organisation treats its employees as individuals and people, with aspirations, feelings, families, and so on, employees are likely to be more engaged. This brings with it a commitment to the organisation in both good and difficult times because they trust that the organisation has the best interest of its employees at heart.

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Pamela Xaba is the founder of Nonkosi Creatives, and has over two decades of experience as a corporate HR professional. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion both in workspaces and society.