Companies are fundamentally evolving in the way they engage on health and wellbeing in the workplace with a more collaborative, value based model that integrates benefits to drive this important business imperative.
This comes against the background of a profound shift in the workplace with expectations of better access to quality healthcare and more inclusive benefits for employees who are struggling with financial hardship, their mental health and stress.
“Despite evidence that modern life is taking a heavy toll on the psychological wellbeing of more and more people, mental health is still one of the most neglected aspects of healthcare – not only locally but around the world,” says Teshlin Akaloo, managing director of NetcarePlus.
“Business is becoming more aware of this pressing problem, with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey indicating that approximately 39% of employers have updated their corporate health plans to expand access to mental health services since the start of the pandemic.
“In answer to this pressing need, Netcare has significantly grown its workplace health offering to provide employers with a suite of fully integrated services, based on comprehensive service lines across the primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare spectrum. This creates a channel to new segments within an underserved market in South Africa,” he says.
“When looking at international trends, Netcare’s acquisition of Akeso in 2016 has therefore proved strategically sound. The subsequent acquisition by the company of a 40% stake in the behavioural risk management company, Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS), in 2020 has aligned Netcare’s product and service led growth strategy to provide for this new paradigm. This has resulted in a suite of seamless human capital management services created with the explicit goal of enhancing the user experience for businesses and their employees.
“While this is a developing trend, it is being recognised worldwide that the integration of healthcare benefits, employee assistance programmes, wellness and human capital in the workplace will not only improve employee performance – it is also known to drive a healthier workplace culture. Recent studies have conclusively linked the delivery of fully integrated human capital management services with an increase in the financial performance of companies where such programmes are implemented,” notes Akaloo.
In commenting on the trend towards progressive, well-rounded human capital management programmes, Navlika Ratangee, managing director of ICAS Southern Africa, says that there is a preventative value to this more comprehensive approach and ICAS has continually evolved to ensure that it not only meets but pre-empts current and future needs of businesses worldwide.
“Within the ICAS environment our experience indicates that in businesses where a more comprehensive service offering is implemented, productivity savings of R10 are delivered for every R1 invested in the programme, which included psychosocial counselling, legal services, and financial services. Total engagement – was as much as 60% higher than that of similar businesses, based on a pre and post intervention assessment measuring levels of workplace functioning.
“In addition, a 70% lower than benchmark proportion of the individuals using the comprehensive programme accessed care at the point where their functioning had become severely compromised in the workplace, compared with similar businesses where such programmes had not been implemented. This meant that employees accessed the programme before the issues they faced could severely compromise their functioning,” explains Ratangee.
“Our holistic offering of people focused solutions, preventative care and counselling services is known to mitigate risks while putting business and employee wellbeing first. While traditional employee assistance programmes offer some level of support and guidance, ICAS understands that now, more than ever, the health, wellbeing and psychological safety of employees must be integrated with the business strategy of every employer.”
The benefits for companies are manifold and include anything from reduced absenteeism and presenteeism to increased productivity and engagement, improved employee retention, the creation of a reputation as a caring employer and finally, to a strategy that mitigates future risks.
“The broader the scale of integration, the better the overall businesses and employee experience. Just imagine the results that can be achieved if this could spill over beyond employee assistance programmes to a full suite of value based human capital management services that include everything from primary to mental health support,” says Ratangee.
Nikki Dey, managing director of Netcare Occupational Health, which is part of the Netcare Group’s Primary Care division, is in full agreement that integration is the way of the future. “We specialise in occupational health services to employers ranging from multinationals to smaller enterprises across the spectrum of industry sectors, from construction and mining to aviation and chemicals manufacturing, where fully integrated, innovative solutions leveraging the Netcare ecosystem of services, capabilities, facilities and infrastructure can make a lasting and meaningful difference in the workplace”.
As an established specialist occupational health services provider with a proven track record of more than two decades, Netcare Occupational Health is playing a fundamental role in assisting companies to comply with general as well as industry specific statutory, legislative and regulatory occupational health requirements. In depth knowledge in this field is strengthened by an established infrastructure and occupational health geographic footprint throughout South Africa and other parts of the African continent.
“For any business, a total approach to the management of human capital translates into simplified administration, more effective communication, reduced duplication errors and enhanced information management, yielding rapid results that are visible as an increased return on investment and a healthier bottom line,” Dey asserts.
In closing, Akaloo says that Netcare has reinvented how health and care are delivered within the workplace. “We have moved from the siloed and episodic approach typical of traditional healthcare to providing seamless and integrated services encompassing primary, hospital and mental health services, work life and wellness programmes along with occupational healthcare services across all channels to serve new segments of the market.
“By delivering a more comprehensive, synergistic workplace service offering, the total optimisation of human capital will finally become a reality,” concludes Akaloo.
Notes to editor
To find out more about the services offered through NetcarePlus, please visit www.netcare.co.za/NetcarePlus or contact the NetcarePlus service centre on 0860 101 151. Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.
Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at www.netcare.co.za/Request-a-medical-appointment or phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please visit www.netcare.co.za or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at [email protected] or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.
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