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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Wellbeing: expand your thinking

Wellbeing: expand your thinking
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New Zealand

The days of workplace wellbeing programmes being focused only on nutrition and exercise are over, according to a speaker at the recent Safety in Numbers seminar in Auckland, who challenged people to expand their thinking.

Louise Schofield, from Vitality Works, said wellbeing is about personal empowerment. "Who cares most about your health? You do. We can't subcontract our wellbeing to someone else."

She cited research conducted by AUT into the wellbeing of 10,000 people which had demonstrated that those in the top quartile had five characteristics in common:

  • They made lots of connections.
  • They gave their time to others.
  • They took notice of what makes them happy.
  • They kept learning.
  • They were active - they prioritised movement and activity.

As an example of how workplaces can help people connect she cited Google, which provides employees with a free lunch provided they sit down at a common table rather than take the food back to their desks. As for being active, she noted that at her own workplace, everyone now used stand-up desks.

Schofield said New Zealand already recognised a skilled worker shortage, but there was also a less widely known healthy worker shortage. The challenge, therefore, is to make our workplaces into centres for wellness which build resilience and performance by helping people feel they are part of something bigger than themselves - "living with purpose and living on purpose".

A mistake with many wellness programmes, she said, is that they are fragmented rather than holistic. "We challenge you to get all your health and safety programmes going in the same direction. And to amplify the positive, even in really tough safety messages."

A long-term wellbeing strategy needs leadership support and sustainable funding, which Schofield said was more likely to be forthcoming if people behind the strategy could develop a coherent "story" and how it would link with key business drivers.

Given that people these days increasingly carry out work away from a central location - including at home and in their vehicles - a modern wellbeing strategy needs to encompass families and communities too. She said the familiar phrase 'work-life balance' implies that work is bad, so it ought to be replaced with 'work and life fluidity'. Similarly, the old concept of time management is better thought of as energy management, as people need to be able to quickly recover from work tasks.

"We teach recovery. Take little breaks. Take lunch away from your desk. Take your holidays!"

People Mentioned:
Louise Schofield
Organisations Mentioned:
Safety in Numbers; Vitality Works
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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