Employee health and wellness: a case of public health in ILembe District.
Van Heerden, Rosemary.
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This study was undertaken in ILembe Health District, which is located in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A district sponsored workplace health and wellness program was implemented in 2012. Gymnasium equipment was procured and a 2 hour weekly concessional physical fitness allowance was afforded to enrolling employees. Majority of employees were envisaged to enrol given that private institutions charged for such services. Despite the district’s investments in the programs, the 2012/13 quarterly report recorded a diminutive 12% enrolment in the physical fitness programs. Further exploration was crucial since employee wellness was an integral component of the District’s strategic intent, and insufficient literature existed to comprehend this phenomenon. Managers concerns about low staff utilization of the programs stimulated interest in studying this phenomenon. The objectives of this study, was to examine ILembe Health District employee’s perceptions of the workplace health and wellness fitness program. Furthermore, this study aimed to identify factors that have a bearing on employee enrolment trends. A survey was conducted which applied a quantitative cross sectional survey design. Respondents rated their interests and perceptions of the health and wellness fitness program over a period of 3 months using a four point Likert-Scale measurement tool. All respondents completed consent forms which stated that their details and responses would be confidential. Respondents were also informed that they reserve the right to withdraw from the study at any time, if they so desired. The data was analysed utilizing SPSS version 21.0 statistical procedures. There was an approximate overall 50:50 split in terms of respondents travelling less or more than the 5 km distance to work. This is useful as the even groupings allowed for direct comparison of the factors under section analysis. The response rate was deemed sufficient in that, of the 170 questionnaires despatched, 150 (88%) was returned rendering the statistics useful for generalization of results to the target population. The study findings confirms that ILembe Health District employees believe that the lack of consultation, absence of rewards, poor levels of privacy during exercise, insufficient equipment to exercise, the lack of group and outdoor sport codes, voluntary participation in programs, the incorrect placement of health and wellness program in the health promotion section, coupled with the firm belief that the inadequacy of time to exercise due to the insufficient concession hour offered are factors that are propelling poor utilisation of programs and low levels of enrolment in the health and physical fitness program. Furthermore, findings of the study revealed that employees in ILembe Health District are vulnerable to non-communicable diseases due to poor health-seeking habits.