The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Thato Raphaka, has expressed worry at the high rate of absenteeism in his ministry, caused by officers who are either on sick leave or registered absent from work.
Addressing local government employees during the Central District Council wellness program in Serowe last week, Raphaka urged government departments to prioritize staff welfare because there is no way government will achieve set goals and targets with a sickly workforce.
“Staff welfare is crucial for effective service delivery. A healthy workforce is a motivated workforce, and, by extension, a productive workforce,” he said.
A total of 485 officers were registered absent from work or on sick leave between July and August this year, 376 of these officers were from local authorities.
In total the 485 officers who missed work accounted for 1506 sick off days, of which 1159 were from local authorities.
To reduce these alarming statistics, said Raphaka, it is important that government’s workplace wellness programs are harnessed and reinvigorated to facilitate a healthy and productive workforce.
Workplace wellness programs were initially introduced to assist employees who might be infected or affected by HIV. Over time, the program has evolved to adopt a holistic approach to wellness, addressing the physical, the mental, the emotional and the spiritual wellbeing of employees.
“Workplace wellness programs are important in that they eliminate stigma against those who might be sickly and further help the affected through provision of physical, mental and emotional support,” said Raphaka.
He added that everyone has a responsibility to provide support to their colleagues and reduce loss of life.
“25 employees have passed on during the same period. We must care because we have lost loved ones,” he said.
The CDC wellness day was also coupled with the launch of a website, a toll-free number and a newsletter.
Various government departments and NGO’s had also attended to provide medical and emotional advice to employees and members of the public.