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The author of The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor discovered that when a person is feeling positive, the brain works much better. His research found that at these “happy” times the individuals tended to be more creative and become better at solving problems, as well as more effective collaborators with their colleagues. Anchor therefore also argues that there is then a clear incentive for employers that the happiness of their employees leads to greater levels of profits.

Further, a healthy workforce is directly linked to high levels of productivity and your business’ positive bottom-line performance. In South Africa’s first Effective Employee Index which was conducted by MMI, the holdings company of Momentum, in consultation with Unisa to research employee productivity, it shows that physical health and financial wellbeing are key drivers of employee productivity. Sick, unhealthy employees who are anxious about their finances then transforms into high levels of absenteeism and presenteeism – which is the condition of being at work but not fully engaged or productive. These impacts on the financial wellness of the employer, it affects their ability to grow their bottom line and protect their balance sheet, as reported by Katherine Baker, the Head of Momentum FundsAtWork.

The FinScope South Africa 2016 Survey revealed that 90% of employed South Africans earn R15 000 or less each month and 81% of the 90% earn R6 000 or less. These members of the population are particularly vulnerable in financial wellness. This is especially true in South Africa where households are forced to rely on retirement savings when they change jobs in order to cover their cost-of-living expenses, leaving little to no savings for when they actually retire. This problem is particularly bad amongst low-income earners who are the majority of South African employees.

When staff feel supported, engaged and valued by their employer, the company will see tangible returns. These returns include staff taking control of their health, become critical thinkers, developing communication skills and an increased loyalty to the organisation. Employers supporting their employees with retirement savings, lump sum death benefits, disability and funeral benefits, help to improve employees’ physical and financial wellness.

The MMI research also revealed that by providing appropriate insurance and retirement solutions and by engaging with the correct wellness program, employers are able to influence up to a third of lost productive employee time at work. Protecting the health of your employees is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity. There is a need for innovative financial services solutions for your employees.

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