South Africa’s workforce is constantly facing increasing pressures and demands to deliver bigger, better and faster than ever before. Living in this always-on, fast paced society which often requires personal sacrifice in the name of achieving business success, these efforts can take their toll on the health and wellbeing of our workforce - both physically and mentally.
This is according to Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, who notes that health issues, which can be caused or worsened by stress, do not only lead to absenteeism and decreased productivity (due to time off work to recover). “If one’s health is put on the backburner, it may start to impact their work and this could have a negative impact on their opportunities for personal advancement and career success in the long-term.”
“Your health, both mentally and physically, dictates your daily performance ability. The better your energy levels, state of mind and ability to function under pressure, the more likely you are to be recognised, promoted and given more responsibility. If you are feeling unwell, you will not be able to put your best foot forward and cope with performance requirements in the workplace.”
“These issues are amplified for a large portion of our female working population who carry the additional pressures associated with managing households and the responsibilities associated with pregnancy, childbirth and caring for families – with many doing so without the support of a partner.”
“It is common for working women to prioritise their work and the needs of others over their own health and wellbeing. While they may feel that acting so selflessly is the best approach in the short-term, if their wellbeing suffers as a result, it ends up being counterproductive to their career goals and their chances of living longer, healthier lives. With so many people relying on them every day, our female workforce need to take time to care for themselves,” she explains.
As South Africa observes International Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Women’s Health Month and Mental Health Awareness Month this October, Vittee urges South Africans to take charge of their health. This includes regularly examining their breasts for abnormalities and speaking to their professional healthcare providers about precautionary and preventative measures. “Remember, men can also get breast cancer so they should be on the lookout for any abnormalities too.”
“It is critical that more South African employers start to make workplace wellness and mental health support a priority within their organisations,” she says. “Our people are the most valuable element in business success. Let’s encourage mindfulness about workforce health related topics”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines positive mental health as, “A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Vittee asks “Isn’t this what every employer and employee should aspire to? So, why not do our utmost to promote positive mental and physical health and provide our workforce with the resources, guidance and counselling they need while eliminating any stigma or embarrassment associated with health issues?”
This month, you can show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink. Quest employees are wearing pink ribbons, hats, hairpieces and all things pink in support of #Pinktober.