Floatpays recently conducted research into the ‘State of Employee Wellbeing in South Africa’ – an annual study intended to help businesses improve labour productivity by building better employee wellbeing programmes (EWPs).

Among other key insights, the research made clear the need to consider cultural and gender nuances and sensitives in the development of effective EWPs. These findings also reinforce the work of driving DEI in the workplace.

The impact of DEI on individual and business wellbeing

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are the key ingredients of a fair, comfortable, and prosperous working environment.

  • Diversity refers to a company’s workforce representation across race, ethnicity, gender, religion, language, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, etc.
  • Equity (often confused with equality, which relates to fair treatment, development, and access to opportunities for all) is about tailoring support based on employees’ abilities and needs.
  • Inclusion involves creating a culture where people feel safe and comfortable speaking up and offering different perspectives and ideas, without fear of judgement, disregard, or discrimination.

According to Deloitte, organisations that prioritise DEI are six times more likely to be innovative and anticipate change and twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets. That’s because DEI enhances employee engagement, increases organisational agility, and improves the employer’s ability to acquire talent.

Considerations for a culturally-sensitive EWP

Employee wellbeing programmes are designed to give employees the knowledge, skills, and support they need to take care of their physical, mental, financial, and emotional health. In this way, EWPs help to create a positive work environment where employees are fully present and productive.

Floatpays’ research deep dived into the financial dimension of employee wellbeing. The research highlighted important cultural and gender considerations for making a sustainable impact on employees’ financial wellbeing through EWPs. These included:

Black tax

‘Black Tax’ came up within the top 5 factors contributing to employees’ financial stress. ‘Black Tax’ is a colloquialism for the  long-term commitment, communal obligation, and continual support that Black South Africans provide to their immediate and extended families. These commitments may include improving one’s parent’s home/dwelling, funding a younger sibling's education, or paying for basic living expenses of unemployed family members. 

The gender lens 

With 37,9% of the households in South Africa headed by females, it is unsurprising that Floatpays’ research shows that for women, the factors driving financial stress are skewed toward typical caretaking responsibilities such as household expenses (57% compared to 49% for men) and food (52% compared to 42% for men). Nearly all (89%) female respondents want to learn how to manage their money better, with 67% of females (versus 58% of males) describing financial wellbeing as the ability to manage within a budget.

Different strokes for different folks

The importance of culture- and gender-informed EWPs in a diverse workplace cannot be underestimated. Understanding employee needs that may be driven by cultural and/or gender specific influences is foundational to developing EWPs that are inclusive, impactful and ultimately help drive business growth.

If employers want to improve the wellbeing of their employees, they must ensure that employees from all walks of life feel like they belong – because high performing teams are ‘high belonging teams’.