HC chats to the head of human capital at Youi, the company that developed an award-winning health and wellbeing program.
Australia honoured its top HR professionals recently at the annual Australian HR Awards.
But what makes a winner?
According to Ivan Pierce, head of human capital at Youi, the HR Awards’ criteria allowed the company to have its HR achievements recognised both internally and externally.
“We were feeling very proud of our ‘YourLife’ Health and Wellbeing Program, but wanted to see how our program stacked up against other companies who were also passionate about this topic,” Pierce told HC.
“One of the great things about this type of award process is that best practice thinkers set the submission criteria, and it really forces us to scrutinise the strengths and weaknesses of our strategies.”
Pierce told HC that a key aspect of the program’s success is its breadth.
“There’s something in there for every employee regardless of fitness level, age or gender,” he explained. “We are particularly proud of the components of our program where physical activity is combined with fun experiences.”
He gave the examples of learn to surf lessons, rock-climbing, dragon boat racing, and trampoline dodgeball.
“I think people are pretty well informed these days about what’s good for them and what’s not – the real challenge is getting them to take action,” Pierce said. “A proportion of people will get up early for a boot camp, but others will only get involved if it’s a unique and fun experience.”
YourLife: a holistic approach
Youi’s holistic health and wellbeing program is called ‘YourLife’, and is run by their manager and co-ordinator, who focus on four key components: health, wellbeing, wealth and benefits.
Employees are offered a range of activities, including personal training sessions, ice skating, team sports sponsorship, running clubs and walking groups, among many others. The CEO also leads a group for a weekly jog around the lake near to Youi’s Queensland office.
The ‘wellbeing’ aspect of the program delves deeper into employees’ health. Youi offers its workforce the opportunity to take part in activities such as yoga and meditation sessions, as well as onsite health assessments.
The health assessments range from healthy age surveys to chiropractic screenings, and include a number of health tests such as heart and biometric health checks.
The company also provides staff with perks like nutrition assistance and weight watchers to work alongside the physical activities they can sign up for.
Youi invites experts on site to lead discussions on topics including finances, saving plans and mortgage comparisons.
Employees are also invited to attend talks to help them plan for retirement and understand their superannuation.
The company runs a benefits program that offers staff discounts on purchases from over 60 organisations. Employees using these discounts save on entertainment, retail, health providers, accommodation, dining, banking and more.
Pierce told HC that employees are rewarded for using the activities included in the YourLife scheme.
“We track participation in the Health, Wellbeing and Wealth activities and staff are awarded points for each activity,” he said. “We are moving down the path of gamifying the experience, so people can see where they rank versus their colleagues, and we also give out random prizes for participating.”
Cutting sick days
“In a call centre environment, flu season presents a risk to our workforce,” Pierce said. “We created a tailored program dedicated to building immunity and preventing the spreading of germs.”
This program included availability of fresh fruit, a 'bed by 9.30pm challenge', and 'wear you slippers to work' day.
Through its relationship with Bupa, Youi also runs a voluntary annual online health assessment for the entire workforce.
“In our most recent assessment, we had 72% of the workforce participate,” Pierce said.
“The program assesses employees’ health and lifestyles, allowing each participant to print their results to discuss them with their GP or other health care professional.
The results indicated a ‘healthy workplace compared to Australian norms’.”
Helping smokers quit
Youi provides a biannual in-house smoking-cessation program called ‘Kick it Club’ (KIC).
“The KIC is championed by one of our senior managers who had been smoking for over 20 years, and was motivated to stop by his kids,” Pierce said.
“The program is free and includes free GP visits to obtain a prescription for nicotine patches, yoga classes to teach breathing techniques and discounted hypnotherapy sessions among many other benefits.”
“All of this is also available to be shared with employees’ partners, house mates, families and friends, as statistically we know it is easier to quit with additional support.”
Mental health support
Pierce told HC that it was important for HR to consider all aspects of employee wellbeing.
“Topics like mental health are often overlooked in the workplace,” he said.
“Employers certainly have a role to play in normalising these types of issues for their people through open communication and the promotion of avenues to seek support.
It probably seems more comfortable to most employers to promote a fitness class than it does a depression support line, but hopefully that will continue to change over time.”
When it comes to mental health assistance, Youi provides support in several ways.
Personal support is provided in the form of solution-focused counselling and online support, coaching for managers, support to achieve financial wellbeing and legal advice and guidance.
Youi also holds information sessions, which provide strategies to deal with issues such as reducing stress and getting a better night’s sleep. Information is also available from the company’s online tools.
Additionally, families are supported, with the company running an annual family fun day.
"Last year we celebrated at a local theme park with exclusive access for Youi,” Pierce said. “We had rides, magicians, face painters, balloon makers and more. It was just another way we could support our employees and their families.”