Winter sniffles and lack of motivation, according to some Internet studies, makes the months between March and September some of the most unproductive in South Africa (that was before COVID-19). Wellness programmes in the workplace reduce medical costs and absenteeism and are associated with increased productivity.

Companies tend to avoid wellness programmes as they may not have a dedicated resource or a wellness budget, but wellness programmes have been found to save money in the long term. Wellness programmes aim to improve the health of employees and their families. Generally, a wellness programme should encourage employees to improve eating habits, reduce stress, increase physical activity and help stop tobacco product use. These programmes may also assist with managing existing health conditions.

10 ideas to include in your wellness programme:

Form a wellness committee and appoint role models to support various initiatives.

Post healthy, relevant tips on your Intranet, in the company newsletter, on notice boards.

Arrange preventative initiatives. Many organisations will supply brochures about their cause and even conduct awareness campaigns and information sessions and provide hand-outs. Display this information in public areas or arrange a specific campaign. Create a calendar of events. See the calendar at the end with details of health awareness months. There are many other national and international health days that are recognised throughout the year, and information is available on the Internet). Include COVID-19.

Offer flu vaccinations and health screenings such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar at the office.

Organise group fitness classes and walking / running groups during lunch time or before or after hours. Encourage employees to get involved in team events over weekends. Adapt it to be online.

Arrange for Weigh-Less, Weight Watchers and “stop smoking” regular meetings to be held during office hours on company premises or online.

Encourage employees to use the stairs and make lifts “no go zones”. Map out walking routes from the boardroom to the parking basement and reception with distances.

Invite experts to talk about healthy eating, stress management – online yoga classes, for example.

Replace vending machines with nuts, dried fruit, popcorn and other healthy snacks and arrange for your company canteen or kitchen to offer fresh fruit and vegetables. Provide water coolers.

Don’t overlook mental health. External providers can offer bespoke employee assistance programmes for employees with personal or financial problems, depression and stress-related challenges.


January – skin cancer awareness month
February – reproductive health month
March – tuberculosis awareness month
April – a health awareness month
May – anti-tobacco campaign month / international multiple sclerosis month
June – men’s health month / national blood donor month
July – a mental illness awareness month
August – bone marrow donation and leukaemia awareness month/organ donor month
September – oral health month/heart awareness month/eye care awareness month
October – breast cancer awareness month
November – diabetes awareness month
December – prevention of injuries month

Healthy employees take fewer sick days and are more productive.