by Nadia Gamieldien

Let the games begin

Cape Town Corporate Games have taken the city by storm

Frederick Stroebel, official ambassador to the Cape Town Corporate Games
Frederick Stroebel

Frederick Stroebel is the head of Human Resource, Learning and Development for Sanlam Personal Finance. He is also the official ambassador of the Cape Town Corporate Games. Leaders in Wellness spoke to him about the importantance of employee engagement.

You’re quite passionate about the value of sport in business. Can you elaborate on the importance of employee engagement for companies? 

Companies should consistently find ways and solutions with which to engage their employees. The Corporate Games are an excellent opportunity for successful employee engagement. The principle of employee engagement consists of two main components.

Firstly, you have to gain energy levels of your staff and you then have to maintain those energy levels. Secondly, you have to ensure the emotions with which they come to work are positive.

Companies should also adopt a high-performance culture; they should challenge others within their industry to step up and they should consider investment within their workforce as a priority. Every employer should ultimately aim to be an employer of choice.

Once you take your employees out of the comfort of their working environment and you provide them with an array of sports, you will be surprised at the amount of talent they possess. Employees are afforded an opportunity to display their talents, other than those for which they have become known in their daily routine. 

This can greatly increase the energy levels within the company. It is because of the success we have had in the previous Corporate Games, and the improvement found within our staff, that we welcome the opportunity to once again be part of this event. 

 

Is there any particular model that you could recommend companies to apply in order to get their employees to engage in aspects of  health and wellness?

The model I use is based on two components. The first is high activation and the second is pleasantness in the workplace. If you focus on high activation, you will find that people are enthusiastic at work; they are excited and happy and it makes for a very pleasant working environment. 

In contrast to that, you may find people who are workaholics, and the result of this is usually burnout. The important thing, as you can see, is to get the balance right. This should not just be a once-off thing, but should be done in a sustainable manner.

 

With regard to the Corporate Games, what is the value of encouraging employees to adopt the ‘healthy mind - healthy body’ concept?

A healthy mind and a healthy body is definitely what we should aspire to. That is why you cannot focus solely on the outputs of the individual, but you need to maintain the health of that individual as well. 

It is important to continuously monitor the vital signs of employee health checks. These can be done on a voluntary basis and employees have an opportunity to have their blood pressure and sugar levels checked and monitored. 

 

Could events such as the Corporate Games improve employee moral and productivity? 

When companies consider things such as the Corporate Games, the initial question posed by management will most likely be around productivity. How will this affect the productivity of my staff? 

We measured the productivity of our staff during the Corporate Games one year. We found that people were very productive during that time, service level agreements did not drop, absenteeism was drastically reduced and staff morale increased. The main reason was because of the positive enthusiasm, energy and emotions shared by all within the company.

It is imperative that your employees are healthy, not only in body but in mind as well. This usually involves a certain level of team work. In the end, it comes down to productivity - and if you successfully manage your workforce, maintain their mental wellness and invest sufficiently in their overall well-being, your productivity increases.

 

What advice would you give to those companies that view corporate health as a waste of time and money?

None of the team building and diversity sessions held were ever as efficient as the Corporate Games were in uniting employees and creating a sense of team spirit.

If one can capture that energy and excitement felt by all during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, bring it into the company and maintain it within the business - you will definitely see the difference. 

We realised this when we did our first sporting initiative. We then decided to host another sporting event in 2011. This time we did indoor netball and soccer. This involved the entire company and we immediately realised the potential such initiatives had. 

When we were approached by the Corporate Games to get involved, we knew we could not pass on the opportunity. The benefit of the Corporate Games is that it doesn’t just allow for one specific sport. It allows for various sporting genres and, because of this, the entire company can get involved - people of all fitness levels, positions and ages.

In the end, it portrays the best account of teamwork, as they are all working toward a common goal. Companies can get their employees to compete against each other throughout the year, as it will keep the energy up and enhance the morale of employees in a sustainable manner.

 

How can companies encourage their staff to partake in sporting events? How can they assist a healthier working culture?

If you look at the spirit of any company and how close it is to the nature of sport, it creates a common platform for people to work toward a common goal. The fact that you have employees at various levels means that the event can become a great equalising factor as well.

We would definitely encourage other companies to take part in the Corporate Games. You only need to look at the benefits thereof to realise the potential it holds. 

If companies wish to take part in the Corporate Games, they can visit the Corporate Games website or the Facebook page. Companies should always strive to provide their employees with initiatives to create further awareness around the importance of healthy lifestyles.

The Corporate Games can assist staff in realising the importance of leading active lives. It can also assist companies to further build their brand outside of their comfort zones. Thus the Corporate Games is not only good for your employees but also good for the company itself. 

Your organisation is exposed to other companies and to people you might not have considered within your focus area. The Corporate Games is something that has the potential to become the leading sporting event for Corporate South Africa, as it has grown immensely since the last one in 2012.

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