Improving employee wellness

Vicky Jowitt, employee wellness manager at Nestlé South Africa. (Photo: Nestlé)

Vicky Jowitt, employee wellness manager at Nestlé South Africa. (Photo: Nestlé)

“In my role as the employee wellness manager, it is my responsibility to ensure that we build a culture of nutrition, health and wellness within our employees and our communities that will result in strengthening the Nestlé employer brand,” she says.

For Jowitt, the role of human resources has moved from serving at the table to sitting at it. “We play a strategic role and have a business mind-set as we are part of the business. “We understand the business, we enable managers, ensure business continuity and look for human resource solutions to add impact to the bottom line.”

This impact is something that Jowitt and Nestlé take seriously. “We provide a comprehensive employee assistance programme to assist employees with personal, financial and legal problems. The company also provides a managerial service to our managers.”

In line with global trends, healthy eating and healthy canteens have become a major focus at Nestlé South Africa and its employees are required to undergo nutritional training.

So what does a typical day consist of for Jowitt? “My function is an all-encompassing one that covers all aspects of employee wellness. This ranges from the physical, with a focus on nutrition and fitness, to the psychological, with a focus on life-work integration, social, spiritual, financial and safety, to mention a few. With this much to focus on there is no such thing as a typical day.”

She says although there have been memorable moments in her career they can be summarised under two umbrellas: when she is able to make a difference to the lives of employees and when she adds value to the business and the bottom line.

But this does not come without its challenges. “The biggest challenges in my role have been changing behaviour and managing resistance to change. And then there is the mundane admin that is not particularly enjoyable.”

Throughout this, Jowitt remains particular about her approach to make sure that the global nutrition, health and wellness consumer goods organisation remains one of the best companies to work for in the country.

“Nestlé is an amazing company to work for. My personal experience attests to that. “How I translate this into strengthening our employer brand and employee wellness strategy will determine how others experience the company.”