Original Research

Health challenges in South African automotive companies: Wellness in the workplace

Anna Meyer-Weitz, Friederike Baasner-Weihs, Martin Weihs
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 13, No 1 | a672 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v13i1.672 | © 2015 Anna Meyer-Weitz, Friederike Baasner-Weihs, Martin Weihs | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 November 2014 | Published: 26 November 2015

About the author(s)

Anna Meyer-Weitz, School of Applied Human Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, South Africa
Friederike Baasner-Weihs, HIV/AIDS Research Unit, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
Martin Weihs, HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections and TB (HAST), Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa


Orientation: In South Africa, workplace programmes in the automotive industry focus predominantly on occupational health and safety and HIV and AIDS. The implementation of focused workplace interventions might be hampered when companies are not convinced that the condition (i.e. HIV and AIDS) is the main negative health influencing factor responsible for increased production costs.

Research purpose: The study investigated the health influencing conditions perceived to negatively impact company production costs and related interventions.

Motivation for the study: Apart from HIV and AIDS, little information is available about the health challenges in the South African workplace and focused HIV and AIDS programmes might only partly respond to the key health challenges of workplaces. The inter-relatedness of various risky lifestyle factors linked to health conditions necessitates a comprehensive health promotion approach.

Research approach, design and method: A cross-sectional survey was conducted amongst 74 companies selected through stratified random sampling. Non-parametric tests were conducted to investigate the health influencing factors perceived to impact production costs, the monitoring thereof, extent of containment and the implementation of interventions in terms of company size and ownership.

Main findings: The health factors perceived to have a moderate to large impact were HIV and AIDS, smoking, alcohol use, stress, back and neck ache and tuberculosis, also reported to be better monitored and managed by medium and large organisations. Small organisations reported a smaller impact, fewer efforts and less success. HIV and AIDS programmes were more evident in large companies and those with wellness programmes (52%). Workplace programmes enabled better monitoring and managing of impacting health conditions. Smaller organisations were not convinced of the benefits of interventions in addressing health challenges.

Practical/managerial implications: As the impacting health conditions seemed linked, comprehensive and integrated wellness programmes are required to address the health issues and ensure organisations’ competitiveness.

Contribution: The results contribute to a better understanding of the perceived salient health influencing factors that impact on production costs. Data support the inter-relationships between the identified health concerns and call for more holistic wellness programmes.


Workplace Wellness; Health challenges; HIV and AIDS


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