How to start a workplace programme

We spend a lot of time at work, and working life and corporate culture have a great deal of influence on our attitudes and behaviours. This makes the workplace an ideal location for addressing the causes and implications of HIV and AIDS and ill-health. SWHAP supports the establishment and spread of innovative, effective and sustainable HIV and Wellness Programmes that maximise productivity and improve the health and quality of life of employees, families and communities.


The approach for initiating workplace programmes is flexible and takes into account the specific situations in different countries and different workplaces. Nevertheless, SWHAP has identified eight components of effective and sustainable programmes.

SWHAP blocks_outlined-6 April- RGB

The eight components of a workplace programme and SWHAP’s support

A joint responsibility

A key factor in the success of the SWHAP approach is that both management and employees of participating companies are jointly responsible for the identification of needs and the formulation and implementation of programmes. This is reflected in the formation of workplace HIV and wellness committees, with representatives from both management and employees (i.e. trade unions where present). Workplaces must also have an HIV/AIDS policy that ensures confidentiality of employee HIV status, doesn’t discriminate against HIV infected employees, and takes gender issues into consideration. The committee plans for and implements advocacy and awareness activities, motivates and provides opportunities for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and biometric testing, ensures employee support programmes are supporting those who need it and then extends the reach of their programmes to include families and vulnerable populations from the local communities.

SWHAP provides support to workplaces in up to six different ways in order to initiate and strengthen workplace programmes. One key tool is the sharing of the initial costs between workplaces and SWHAP for up to a maximum of three years. This catalytic support reduces the risk felt by managers about perceived costs and allows the workplace to take a greater and greater role in the funding of the programme – while at the same time being able to realise the benefits of a workplace programme.

Once a workplace is running a sustainable programme, they are encouraged to share their experiences with others through initiatives such as the supply chain programmes and mentoring. Furthermore, a great deal of best practices from the workplaces is documented and shared with many different actors.

Wellness approach

SWHAP follows a wellness approach as it has been proven to encourage more people to agree to testing and to engage in prevention activities compared with a focused HIV approach. Additionally, it also addresses related diseases and lifestyle issues which can either contribute to the spread of HIV or affect those living with HIV disproportionately. The wellness approach with its increased participation rates and broader company engagement results in healthier and more productive companies. Due to the fact that the term wellness is very broad, in 2012 SWHAP developed a wellness strategy that defined wellness interventions which are directly or indirectly related to HIV and AIDS. For SWHAP wellness interventions include the following:

  • HIV prevention and awareness, and AIDS treatment and care
  • Communicable Diseases (such as TB), malaria and opportunistic infections
  • Sexual and reproductive health (including STIs)
  • NCDs such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, blood pressure
  • “AIDS-defining cancers” as well as other cancers shown to be more common among men and women living with HIV
  • Nutrition and healthy lifestyle issues
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Stress management
  • Gender and Gender based violence, spousal communication, marital counselling
  • Silicosis (from inhalation of Silica Dust)

No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you would like to start up an HIV and wellness workplace programme at your company bear in mind that there are many companies who have already done so, and whose experiences you can learn plenty from. SWHAP is also more than happy to share useful material with you. Attached below you find brochures of different HIV and Wellness Workplace Programmes, as well as other helpful material, such as: brochure on SWHAP, Peer Educator Activity Reports and the SWHAP Assessment Form. The latter serves as the nomination form for the SWHAP Achievement Award for Most Comprehensive Programme and can also be used as a self-assessment tool for workplaces.

The Atlas Copco Zambia Workplace Programme (PDF: 275kB)

The Sandvik Zimbabwe Workplace Programme (PDF: 435kB)

Peer Educator Activity Report (version 2, April 2011) (PDF: 294kB)

Peer Educator Monthly Activity Report (version2, April 2011) (PDF: 357kB)

SWHAP Assessment Form (Most Comprehensive Workplace Programme Form)