Investing in Happier, Healthier Workspaces now a Strategic Imperative

As organisations work to ensure healthier and happier workspaces, increased investment in healthy lives, happier people and holistic well-being is a strategic imperative that everyone should have a role in shaping. This came to light at the latest HoTCon event recently.

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Having happier and healthier individuals in the workplace is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but is increasingly a necessity for both stronger social structures and stronger businesses.
This sentiment is now truer than ever, with the need to invest in healthy and happy people at work beyond traditional “health” parameters paramount for all organisations, including those in the corporate space. It served as food for thought and intellectual debate at the most recent HotCon event hosted by Hotwire Public Relations Consultancy, under the theme, “Investing in Healthy Lives and Workspaces.”

Across the globe
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, mental health and employee wellness have become the centre of conversations for individuals, groups, and organisations across the globe. This is because investing in the holistic well-being of employees is now a critical component of running a successful

business.
The 12 January 2023 edition of HotCon engaged renowned health specialists in this space for a detailed discussion and expert opinion on this matter. The engagement focused on unpacking the benefits of investing in a healthy lifestyle and how businesses can achieve healthy workplaces.

The panel comprised MotherK Kgosiemang Masire of Botho Treats, who is a seasoned mindfulness practitioner with a penchant for helping individuals and groups tap into their inner treasures; Dr Ava Avalos, an HIV specialist physician, AIDS activist, and counsellor who leads the National Advanced HIV Care Initiative and is also an ordained Zen Buddhist Dharma Teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn, as well as a teacher of yoga and dance; and Dr. Precious Serero of Phemo Clinic, a General Practitioner (GP) operating in Gaborone who believes in a holistic approach to treating patients.

As the first HotCon engagement for the year, Hotwire paid particular attention to ensuring that this session addressed a need that is mostly felt at the start of the year. The theme sought to address what most people think about but do not openly talk about.

Saving healthcare costs
For example, 1 in 6.8 people (14.7%) experience mental health problems at work. Indeed, according to an NSBA study, offering workplace wellness programmes is useful for saving employee healthcare costs, and employees who participate religiously in wellness programmes are physically active and feel less sick, which helps produce quality results and customer service and feeds into the bottom line.

“This was amongst our most engaging HotCon since we first launched in October 2022, and we look to grow this platform for discourse further each month, levering our network and the depth of talent and knowledge within it to do so,” said Hotwire General Manager and Lead Consultant, Taazima Kala-Essack.

The onus on organisations galvanising stronger workplace cultures has not only become increasingly a focus area for debate but has evolved to see responsibility placed on all in the social ecosystem. Key themes in this regard debated at this month’s HotCon included a greater need for beginning to ensure acknowledgement or understanding of issues of self and others within challenged environments.

Mindfulness
“You cannot pour from an empty cup,” MotherK Masire noted. “So it is important to ensure you introspect and ensure you have the necessary self-awareness and self-love to then be able to cascade this to others. Mindfulness is key here. It begins with a reflection of self, ensuring you are aware, present, and indeed compassionate.”
Dr. Avalos and Dr. Serero also underscored the importance of recognising that this has a bearing on well-being more holistically because stress can have an impact on physical health and vice versa. Left unchecked, impacts such as low immunity, depression and hypertension may be experienced.

Modern workplaces, especially with the new lens provided by the COVID-19 pandemic, cannot afford to overlook this, with global eyes now more opened to the importance of ensuring psychological safety, agility, flexibility, and greater understanding and support for and of human capital.

Where the growing trend of workplace hostility and even toxicity is noticed, Dr. Precious emphasised the daily need for a psychological consult for patients in recent months and a need to respond rather than react. “We need to create opportunities outside of the toxicity,” Dr Avalos noted, saying this has a strong bearing on ethical practice, speak-up culture, and a need to change the situation.

In her view, which was supported by attendees, there is growing realisation that today’s youth not only feel the negative impacts of lack of action more but have increased motivation to break or fight the social constructs that may have cultivated a negative workplace culture.

What remained clear throughout and across all speakers as a fundamental theme in discussing mental health, well-being and healthy lives was this: be human, kind, and compassionate. As organisations work to ensure healthier and happier workspaces, increased investment in healthy lives, happier people and holistic well-being is a strategic imperative and everyone has a role to play in shaping this.

Informed society
HotCon was born as a virtual conference established by Hotwire to unpack business, development, transformation, and innovation with thought leaders across industries. It is facilitated by Phenyo Motlhagodi, Hotwire’s Head of Business Development and Training Co-ordinator, who is also a seasoned radio broadcaster with over a decade of experience interviewing local, regional, and international newsmakers and thought leaders.

Each webinar is free to access to all members of the public and seeks to spark debate and discourse on a variety of topical issues, all of which are within the human-interest space and can help cultivate progress towards becoming a more knowledge-based and informed society.

HotCon is hosted monthly and is free for members of the public to register for virtual attendance.