Improving our workplace wellness

It is not unusual to have employees at the workplace struggling from time to time with work-related or even personal issues or stress. Such problems if not dealt with can lead to low productivity absenteeism among other issues. One of the effective ways to assist employees to deal with stress or their own personal issues is to provide a sustainable workplace wellness program that facilitates onsite counseling sessions.

Frigoken Ltd (FKL) and Premier Food Industries Ltd. (PFIL) have partnered together to provide their employees with onsite counselors who can support them through the challenges of life.

Anne Kamau, a trained counselor with over 10 years’ experience, has been the onsite counselor for FKL and PFIL for about two years. In the first year, employees were hesitant to approach her on any issue but they would later warm up to her. Today, she is literally stopped by employees along the corridors if not for much but to offer a listening ear to them.

“A problem shared is a problem half solved. And in this kind of work, confidentiality with people is what makes the difference. As I talk to the employees- women mostly, you can tell they just need you to listen and this helps ease any pressure they may have”, Anne says.

The counseling is done in two sessions; first, the group sessions where the employees are walked through different topics; health talks- cancer, sexual reproduction (family planning), parenting skills, self-awareness among others and one on one sessions. Personal issues are handled in the one-on-one session where on average; approximately six employees attend the session. It is also here that those interested to have different tests such as HIV get tested. The counselor refers the employees to health facilities for further tests or checkups and follows up with them to ensure they get treatment if they are unwell.

“The value of having counseling services at the workplace is that it helps resolve many ‘unspoken’ issues among the employees. There are cases that a human resource officer may not be able to handle and people shy from sharing for fear of being judged. But when they speak to an ‘outsider’ it helps them to freely share. It is also important for employees to be sober-minded while at work as this helps them focus better on their job. Some accidents at the workplace/factories can be avoided when employees are in the right state of mind and their productivity increases too”, Anne says.

Anne may not be able to reach all employees, for this reason, both FKL and PFIL have volunteers that are trained as peer educators to help in the dissemination of information to their colleagues. This way, all employees are reached.

“It is good that FKL and PFIL management is supporting their employees to get this service for free. It is important that companies are mindful of the wellbeing of their employees”