The bus and truck manufacturer Scania has a long tradition of good relations with its employees in the more than 100 countries where it operates. For more than ten years, the company’s South African branch has participated in the Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme (SWHAP). The programme creates access to testing for HIV and other diseases for its employees. This can include voluntary testing, advisory services, education, treatment and more.
The number of people tested has increased every year, and the stigma surrounding HIV and other health issues has diminished. Scania’s employees have also become healthier and sick leave has decreased, which in turn has increased productivity. Additionally, awareness of health issues in general has increased, as has gender equality.
How it works
The programme was initiated in 2004 in South Africa by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). It’s run jointly by the International Council of Swedish Industry and the trade union IF Metall. Scania has been involved in SWHAP for over ten years after being invited to participate.
SWHAP is conducted in close cooperation with Scania’s employees. It subsequently helps create a better and inclusive social dialogue between managers and workers. The trade unions and the employees’ representatives have played a critical role in achieving this result.
When Scania got involved, the prevalence of HIV among its employees was at 2–3 per cent. Today that number is even lower, and people who test positively are now also correctly managed. It didn’t take long for the programme to include other health issues, such as BMI, blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol.
In recent years, Scania also started to include psychosocial factors and offer psychological support to employees. Their mental well-being is now the main focus for Scania, and the company describes stress as a ‘silent killer’. By providing quick intervention, Scania has been able to assist employees in getting treatment.
Both employees and managers have received help in dealing with illness, drug abuse, divorce, financial problems, stress and suicide. This has reduced sick leave significantly, and Scania considers SWHAP and other forms of employee dialogue a key factor behind the company’s success.
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