The Rectorate recently approved Stellenbosch University's Staff Health and Wellbeing Plan (SHWP) after extensive consultation with the University's stakeholders, ten faculties and seven responsibility centres.
The SHWP aims to support one of SU's key objectives, namely to be an employer of choice by enhancing the health and wellbeing of University staff. This is achieved by creating and promoting an enabling, inclusive, equitable, healthy and safe working and learning environment, where staff feel valued and contribute fully to SU's excellence.
According to Prof Nico Koopman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, staff health and wellbeing is an institutional priority and imperative. Its importance has been highlighted by Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019–2024, SU's employee value proposition (EVP) and various staff-related decisions and actions taken by the University. It was also explicitly adopted as a red-light priority in 2019.
“We wish to model a culture of health and wellbeing, and provide the necessary support and structures that will lead to practices promoting staff wellness. Health and wellbeing should be viewed as a joint responsibility, shared by SU as well as individual employees. All of us need to contribute to a workplace and institutional culture conducive to health and wellbeing," Prof Koopman said.
The Rectorate had appointed a task team to develop an institutional strategy for health and wellbeing for the entire campus community. Task team members were Pierre Viviers (chair), Nico Koopman, Victor Mothobi, Shibu Mamabolo, Munita Dunn-Coetzee, Nicolette van den Eijkel, Claire Kelly and Joanne Williams (coordinator). They were supported by an advisory panel of internal experts, namely Profs Lizette Rabe, Anneke Rudman, Wayne Derman, Daniel Malan, Aletta Odendaal and Gina Görgens Ekermans.
The strategic objectives of the SHWP are aligned with those of Higher Health, the consortium that guides health and wellbeing in the post-school training and education sector, as well as with SU's overarching strategic themes. The objectives are to:
- prevent physical and psychosocial conditions, and reduce their risk, duration and effects;
- ensure integrated institutional reporting (such as to the Rectorate/Senate/Council);
- facilitate a change in institutional behaviour, culture and practices to enhance health and wellbeing (including the introduction of indicators to monitor and measure behavioural change); and
- encourage individual behavioural change to support health and wellbeing.
According to Dr Pierre Viviers, head of SU's Campus Health Service, the plan seeks to promote staff health and wellbeing in a proactive and holistic way. He said health and wellbeing should be established as an embedded responsibility at SU, with all environments taking responsibility for the wellness of their staff, and proper alignment between environments and the relevant expertise to advance health and wellbeing. Viviers also stressed that while staff and student health and wellbeing should be distinguished from each other, the two remained connected, the one affecting the other.
Implementation of the SHWP will commence soon and will be coordinated by the Institutional Committee for Staff Health and Wellbeing (ICSHW), who has been mandated by the Rectorate for this purpose and will report to the Rectorate at least twice a year. The first meeting of the newly constituted committee took place on 11 March 2021. The ICSHW will ensure that the SHWP is an accessible and illuminating instrument that guides, coordinates and advances health and wellbeing practices at SU.
“As implementation commences, feedback from the various environments and from the staff culture and climate survey will guide us going forward. We will engage with staff and update them on health and wellbeing matters," Prof Koopman said. “In these uncertain times, we are paying particular attention to health and wellbeing. We invite staff to contact our Campus Health Service, the Wellness Office as well as Careways for wellness assistance as we navigate this year together. We must not look good on paper only, but also on the playing field."
Campus Health Service: Stellenbosch 021 808 3494/6; Tygerberg 021 938 9590
Wellness Office: Ms Shibu Mamabolo, email@example.com
Careways: 0800 004 770 / SMS your name to 31581 / firstname.lastname@example.org