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Press release -

South Africa’s Healthiest Companies named

The results of the Discovery Healthy Company Index, the largest workplace wellness survey in South Africa, have been released and Hatch has emerged as the healthiest large company in the country. The professional services firm delivers an array of technical and strategic services to the Mining, Metallurgical, Energy, and Infrastructure sectors. Hatch received the award for combining the health of employees (measured using the Vitality Age risk factors) with the health-related facilities and programmes that the company provides to their employees overall. Vital Health Foods, South Africa’s leading health food manufacturer and producer of vitamins, minerals and supplements, won healthiest medium-sized company and BSG (Africa), a business and software solutions delivery company and last year’s overall winner, won healthiest small company.

 The Discovery Healthy Company Index was developed as a joint initiative between Discovery Vitality, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Cape Town, and Professor Ron Goetzel of Emory University and Thomson Reuters. The first survey of its kind in South Africa and now in its second year, it aims to assess and understand the health status of South African employees.

 The 2012 Discovery Healthy Company Index survey included 110 participating companies. These employers provided email addresses for 80 809 employees who were eligible to participate. From this total survey population, 19 011 employees, or 24% of employees, completed the online survey.

 “Encouraging a healthy workforce should become a priority for all employers. People spend the greater part of their day at work, which has a direct impact on their lifestyle and stress levels. A significant amount of clinical research indicates a strong link between living an unhealthy lifestyle and the development of chronic disease - high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes - which can have a profound effect on the bottom line of any company,” said Craig Nossel, Head of Vitality Wellness at Discovery.


The 2012 survey results show that South African companies are on the right track for promoting good health. However, there are several health concerns that employees are grappling with, high blood pressure and high cholesterol being the most prevalent chronic conditions of lifestyle among employees.

 The survey also shows that 92% of employees have a Vitality Age higher than their actual age. On average, employees have a Vitality Age that is 6.4 years older than their actual age. Vitality Age gives an estimate of a person’s health by looking at certain health risk factors, it is calculated by using body mass index (BMI) that assesses a person’s weight in relation to their height as well as dietary habits, mental wellbeing, the presence of diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, the amount of daily physical activity, smoking status and alcohol consumption. All these factors are known to have a significant impact on morbidity and mortality.

 According to Nossel, “employees with a Vitality Age higher than their actual age had 27% more visits to the doctor, 55% more days in hospital and lost 72% more days due to illness or injury than those with a Vitality Age lower than their actual age. If a person’s Vitality Age is lower than his or her actual age, this shows that a healthy lifestyle is keeping the person ‘young’”.

 In light of new research, the Vitality Age algorithm used for the 2012 Discovery Healthy Company Index is slightly different to the algorithm used in 2011 in that it has been enhanced to include the latest available research and additional risk factors, particularly those related to nutrition.

 The workplace provides a unique opportunity to ensure that health and wellness is enhanced. Studies done in the USA have suggested that as many as 80-90% of workplaces with 50 or more employees offer some type of health promotion and disease prevention services.

 “The Discovery Healthy Company Index is starting to provide an excellent data set to benchmark and track key health issues over time, while evaluating which initiatives are having a positive impact on employees’ health and companies’ productivity,” said Prof Karen Milner from the University of Witwatersrand.

 In South Africa, very little research has been conducted on how companies and employers approach wellness in the workplace. Since the workplace plays such a vital role in the health of employees, and there are 14 million employed South Africans, there is a huge opportunity to change the behaviour of large sections of the population.

 “It is rewarding to see more and more companies rolling out wellness initiatives in the workplace. We would like to congratulate the top companies in this year’s survey, and encourage many more employers to take positive steps in looking after the health and wellbeing of their most valuable asset – their employees,” concluded Milner.

 2012 Discovery Healthy Company Index results

Healthiest company in South Africa – large companies

  1. Hatch
  2. Shell South Africa Marketing (Pty) Ltd
  3. Tongaat Hulett South Africa


Healthiest company – medium companies

  1. Vital Health Foods
  2. St Stithians College
  3. Karabina Business Technology Solutions


Healthiest company - small companies

  1. BSG
  1. Johnson Matthey South Africa
  2. IT Dynamics

 Healthiest employees - large companies

  1. Mazars
  2. Virgin Active South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  3. Hatch


Healthiest employees - medium companies

  1. Vital Health Foods
  1. Eli Lilly (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd
  2. St Stithians College

 Healthiest employees - small companies

  1. BSG
  1. New Balance South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  1. IT Dynamics

Best facilities – large companies

  1. Hatch
  2. Shell South Africa Marketing (Pty) Ltd
  3. Tongaat Hulett South Africa


Best facilities - medium companies

  1. Vital Health Foods
  2. Protea Hospitality Group (Pty) Ltd
  3. Etana Insurance

 Best facilities - small companies

  1. Johnson Matthey South Africa
  2. BSG
  3. Tupperware Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd


Healthiest eating habits

  1. Vital Health Foods
  2. Alexander Forbes Health (Pty) Ltd
  3. Kaelo Consulting (Pty) Ltd

 Employees with the healthiest body mass index (BMI)

  1. Johnson Matthey South Africa
  2. BSG
  3. IT Dynamics

Highest motivation to change health behaviour

  1. Kaelo Consulting (Pty) Ltd
  2. Cedar Employee Benefits
  1. Philips SA (Pty) and Philips Medical Systems (Pty) Ltd

 Highest employee engagement with health checks

  1. Global Mouse
  2. Alexander Forbes Health (Pty) Ltd
  1. Vital Health Foods

 Most smoke-free environment

  1. WRHI
  2. St Stithians College
  3. Department of Science and Technology


Least stressed employees

  1. NCC Environmental Services (Pty) Ltd
  2. Freudenberg Nonwovens (Pty) Ltd
  3. IQ Business (Pty) Ltd

 Most physically active employees

  1. New Balance South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  2. Virgin Active South Africa (Pty) Ltd
  3. NCC Environmental Services (Pty) Ltd

 Most caring company

  1. Vital Health Foods
  2. FPM Administrators (Pty) Ltd
  3. Hatch


 Notes to the editor**


Small Company – refers to an organisation with under 100 employees

Medium company – refers to an organisation that employs between 101 and 400 employees

Large company – refers to an organisation that employs more than 401 employees




Discovery information

 Discovery is an authorised financial services provider.

Discovery operates in the healthcare cover market in South Africa, the United Kingdom and China; the life assurance market in South Africa and the United Kingdom; as well as the long-term savings and investment market, and short-term insurance market in South Africa.


Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution. It provides individual and corporate wellness initiatives in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and China. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives.


Discovery’s core purpose is to make people healthier, and to enhance and protect their lives through financial products that clients need and want.

 South African operations


Discovery Health


  • Launched in 1992, Discovery Health is South Africa’s largest healthcare funder and manager of medical schemes. It manages 14 medical schemes.
  • This includes the Discovery Health Medical Scheme, which has a 50% share in the open medical schemes market, making it South Africa’s largest open medical scheme.
  • The Discovery Health Medical Scheme covers more than 2.3 million lives.
  •  The Scheme is the only one in South Africa to enjoy an AA+ rating for its claims paying ability, the highest possible credit rating from international rating agency Global Credit Ratings.
  • The Discovery Health Medical Scheme holds over R7.4 billion in reserves.
  • Discovery Health pioneered consumer-driven healthcare in South Africa with the introduction of innovations like the Medical Savings Account and its wellness programme, Vitality.
  • Discovery Health was voted the top medical aid brand in the Sunday Times Top Brands survey for both 2010 and 2011.
  • Discovery Health was voted the top healthcare product supplier at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards.


Discovery Life

 Discovery Life was launched in 2000 and is South Africa’s fastest growing major life assurer in the risk market, having captured 25% of the overall risk broker market.

  • It was the first South African insurer to separate risk from investment, leading significant change in the industry.
  • The value of its business is now more than R1.6 billion.
  • Discovery Life was voted the top life assurer in the Sunday Times Top Brands survey for both 2010 and 2011.
  • Discovery Life was voted the top risk and life assurance supplier at the 2010 Financial Intermediaries’ Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards and the top long-term insurer: recurring savings at the 2011 FIA Awards.

Discovery Invest 


  • Discovery Invest was launched in October 2007 and declared its maiden profit in 2010.
  • Discovery Invest combines the breadth and skill of the asset management industry with the existing research and development capabilities of Discovery Life.
  • The company offers consumers a unique and comprehensive product range that addresses the current gaps in the market by offering greater protection against poor investment choices.
  • Discovery Invest now has more than R24 billion in assets under management.
  • Through Discovery Invest’s LISP platform, clients have access to over 329 local and 65 offshore investment funds.
  • In 2011 and 2012, Discovery Invest received the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) award in the investment product: recurring premium category.


Discovery Vitality


·         Launched in 1997, Vitality is Discovery’s science-based wellness programme that underpins each of the Discovery businesses and is an international brand in its own right.

·         Vitality encourages healthy behaviours that reduce long-term healthcare costs by rewarding members for improving their health.

·         There are now more than 1.5 million Vitality members in South Africa.

·         Vitality is accredited by the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.

  • The HealthyLiving™ benefit offers Vitality members up to 25% cash back on HealthyCare™ products at Clicks, HealthyGear™ at adidas and TotalSports stores, and HealthyFood™ items at Pick n Pay.

·         The Vitality value offering is enhanced by the DiscoveryCard, Discovery’s unique Visa credit card which gives members real cash back.

·         Launched in 2004, the DiscoveryCard is the largest non-bank card in issue, with an 8.9% share of point-of-sales spend.


Discovery Insure


·         Discovery Insure was launched in May 2011.

·         This pioneering product was created by leveraging the behavioural expertise developed in the Vitality programme with the latest telematics technology.

·         The unique Vitalitydrive programme encourages and rewards better driving behaviour and ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy.

·         At the heart of Vitalitydrive is the DQ-Track telematics device that measures and resports crucial aspects of driving behaviour.

·         Vitalitydrive provides up to 50% fuel rewards on clients’ monthly BP fuel spend.

·         Discovery Insure offers comprehensive vehicle, personal and household cover.







International operations


United Kingdom


In the UK, Discovery has a 75% shareholding in a joint venture with Prudential plc. Through PruHealth and PruProtect, the company offers healthcare cover and protection products.   



  • Launched in 2004, PruHealth is the fourth largest private medical insurer in the UK and the only one that rewards people for leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • It offers consumer-directed products linked to the Vitality wellness programme.
  • In 2010, Discovery acquired Standard Life Healthcare, thereby leveraging the significant assets of both companies and resulting in greater scale for PruHealth.
  • PruHealth has won several awards for its product innovations.




·         PruProtect, which was launched in 2007, markets consumer-engaged life assurance products in the UK market.

·         The company’s products integrate with those of PruHealth and Vitality to unlock added value and significant premium savings for clients.

·         The company has become a major player in the UK protection market.

·          PruProtect has received industry recognition, including awards in four categories at the 2011 Defacto Awards. The company was also named Best Individual Protection Provider in 2011 by Professional Adviser, and walked off with the Innovation Award at the 2011 Protection Review.


United States


The Vitality Group


  • The Vitality Group was launched in 2007 and offers a stand-alone version of the Vitality programme to self-insured, large employer groups and to healthcare carriers.
  • Discovery holds a 75% share in The Vitality Group, 25% being held by Humana Inc.
  • The Vitality Group has entered into a partnership with Wellness and Prevention, a subsidiary of Johnson&Johnson, the world’s premier consumer health company.
  • In 2011, the group was awarded the C Everett Koop National Health Award for its work with Alcon Laboratories, a highly prestigious award recognising outstanding workplace health improvement programmes.




  • Launched in 2011, HumanaVitality is a joint venture between Humana Inc and Discovery (through The Vitality Group) that makes Vitality available to Humana clients with commercial medical plans.
  • Discovery holds a 25% share in HumanaVitality.
  • Humana Inc is the fourth largest health insurer in the US with 18 million members.
  • HumanaVitality now has more than 1.1 million Vitality members.




Ping An Health


·         Ping An Health was launched in China in 2010, after Discovery acquired a 20% share in Ping An Health Insurance Co of China Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China.

·         Ping An Insurance is China’s leading insurer and the second largest in the world.

·         The joint venture will see Discovery’s product innovation and consumer-engaged model exported to a potential market of 83 million families.

·         Vitality was launched in China through Ping An Health in May 2012.



Press contacts

Felicity Hudson

Felicity Hudson

Press contact Head of Reputation Management Discovery Group 0115294514

Nthabiseng Chapeshamano

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Healthcare & Sustainability

Munene Khoza

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Vitality & Wellness

Zeenat Moorad

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Banking & investments

Shanti Aboobaker

Press contact Reputation Manager Long and short term insurance

Gugu Yika

Press contact Reputation Management Consultant Vitality & Sponsorships 0115298083