The upcoming Workplace Wellness Conference 2016 will examine the strategies to enhance the well-being and productivity of the Australian workforce.
This conference will focus on 10 industry case studies this year – featuring :
Olly Bridge‘s (Head of Corporate, Health & Wellbeing, Medibank)
case study on ‘Medibank’s journey of merging physical, technology and people to new HQ’s in Melbourne’, and,
Liz Walton (WHSE Manager, Australian Energy Market Operator) presenting on “Joining the dots on employee health and wellbeing”.
We reached out to Liz & Olly to learn more from their experiences and expectations from having implemented a well-being program and it’s impact on workplace health, safety & culture.
1. What do you think about the concept of the workplace being an ideal place to promote and optimise physical and mental health?
O: I believe that it is a logical and cost effective channel. However, the Framingham study data shows how powerful social networks are at promoting the right health behaviours. Therefore, just putting policies in place in the workplace is not enough, it has to infiltrate into the social norms and be reinforced in the leaders’ authentic behaviour and the unofficial opinion leaders actions for it to truly have an effect. We bring our ‘whole self’ to work, so messaging and interventions that include family and friends is also imperative, we no longer have the work ‘us’ and the home ‘us’!
L: Even though each workplace is different in its size, demographic and the work that occurs, the one thing we do have in common is that we have a large captive audience of adults attending. Which is the ideal target audience to influence physical and mental health in the broader community. The exciting thing about this is that there are real tangible benefits to organisations that are willing to invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees.
2. Chronic disease and the ageing workforce is undoubtedly creating an imperative to ensure workplace wellness programs are in place – what are some of the specific measures you have implemented in your organisation?
O: At Medibank we’re for better health and we live and breathe that purpose. Medibank’s wellbeing strategy has been developed to align with business priorities and connect to our EVP. Medibank’s wellbeing approach is driven by the objective of providing employees with:
a. Access to programs and resources to support their wellbeing,
b. Choice to choose activities which are appropriate to their needs and
c. Awareness, not only of what is available for them to participate in, but guidelines to good health and wellbeing.
The areas of good health are represented by programming and health information which will fall within four pillars: moveBETTER, eatBETTER, BETTERminds and connectBETTER. The strategy will be delivered by a combination of programmed activities and access to health resources, with a focus on empowering employees.
L: To support our employees, we use a tailored health coaching program. After an annual health check, employees participate in 3 months of one on one coaching sessions targeted to their individual health risk profile and individual needs. For the remainder of the year the health and wellbeing program is designed around the aggregated health risk profile of the organisation to ensure we are addressing the relevant risks.
Being an office bound workforce, we have trained on site ergonomic ambassadors who pro-actively assess the unique needs of individuals and we regularly provide assistive equipment to those with additional needs to keep them at the top of their game.
As an added benefit, employees are provided salary continuance insurance to support our employees in times of ill health.
3. Quantifying the benefits of wellness programs (and ROI) will remain a challenge for organisations – what are some of the ways of turning intangible value into something clear and credible?
O: This will all depend upon the business themselves articulating what the VALUE of the investment needs to be. A stronger EVP might be more important than reducing absenteeism for some, while engagement will be the clear focus for another. Ultimately how SUCCESS will be measured needs to be clearly articulated prior to the commencement of any program. There is a plethora of data points that can be used and plenty of external validated data to draw upon.
L: At AEMO, we talk about how health risks impact performance, lowers the ability to concentrate and hampers innovation. If we want people to be the best they can be at work, we need to support them with the right information, tools and support to help them get there. For example, with one of our key focus areas, ergonomics, in addition to the fundamentals, we talk to our leaders about the impact of a lack of movement and a lack of water may decrease a person’s energy level and output.