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How often have you heard the words:  “When you come to work, you have to leave your personal life at the door”. It’s a well known saying which, when investigated from a holistic perspective makes little sense, according to Joel Perry at a recent “Community of Experts” event at the i-Fundi office in Sandton.

Given the nature of business, most organisations prioritize profit and productivity over the well-being of their workforce. That assumption was challenged by Perry. According to him, profitability and wellness are not competing with each other but are inseparably linked.

The fact is that your work and personal life are synonymous.  They are co-dependent and cannot be divorced, and only once the organization acknowledges the wellness and well-being of its employees as equally important, will productivity increase.

The speaker, Joel Perry, former Director and Head of Advocacy of the Cancer Association of South Africa has come to that conclusion after a decade of implementing wellness programmes in the workplace.

The first hour of the two hour presentation took the audience through the background  context and history of wellness in the workplace  initiatives, and the finale introduced the audience to a brief session of emotional wellness techniques in practice. The focus of the practical honed in on the importance of recognizing your body pressure points to alleviate stress, balancing emotions, as well as understanding how energy can be redirected to relieve stress and tension.

Representatives from various companies arrived in their numbers, anticipating a wellness workshop with a twist, and from the feedback, the session certainly met the standard.

One participant reflected on what he found to be the most valuable aspect of the event saying: “I learnt what to do differently in the workplace to ensure participation from all”, while another said she found the presentation to be very relevant in terms of the content and in relation to her occupation as an Employee Wellness Specialist.

These simple techniques demonstrated by Perry can be used by organisations to attend to individual cases which need intervention in the workplace, or can be used by the individual to re-focus or alleviate stress.

“Wellness must be priority in the way in which an organisation is run, because life includes life at work. Life is not an event which takes place outside your working hours. A healthy workplace is one which understands this, furthermore – a healthy workplace is one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by not merely the absence of disease”, says Perry.

One impactful statement which seemed to resonate with the audience is the quote by analytics software giant SAS founder and CEO, Jim Goodnight: “Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will”.

“When a company acknowledges that its workforce is comprised of people who face challenges – be it emotional trauma, financial stress, depression, illnesses, etc, and that organization makes a concerted effort to deal with these situations,they entrench a culture of well-being. Employees and managers collaborate to provide wellness programmes to themselves as internal customers to the organisation. Expect people to rise. Treat them like they are rising, and they will”, says Perry.

Reflecting on the event, Perry says : “I enjoyed that the audience was engaged, and what revealed this was the Question and Answer segment of the presentation. The questions revealed that the participants appreciated and understood what was being said, which is always something I appreciate”, he concludes.

For those interested to learn more, there are  two follow-up programmes which are organised as:

  • Wellness Practices for Workplace Employees: An in-house programme to teach simple wellness practices and tools in the convenience of time and place at work.
  • Creating a Holistic Workplace Wellness Programme: A two-day programme to assist managers to design and run their own holistic wellness programme in the workplace.