Time for a (health) tune-up?

How well do you know the health of your employees? If you’re taking a best guess or relying on gut instinct to guide your organisation’s health and wellbeing interventions, it’s time for a rethink

Time for a (health) tune-up?

How well do you know the health of your employees? If you’re taking a best guess or relying on gut instinct to guide your organisation’s health and wellbeing interventions, it’s time for a rethink

'How do I know if any of our activity around health and wellbeing works?’ It’s a question posed daily by countless HR professionals – and in this day and age when expectations around how employers should be helping employees manage their health and wellbeing more effectively is at an all-time high, it’s more critical than ever to know the answer.

To this point, the success (or otherwise) of many workplace health and wellbeing initiatives has been hard to measure. A ‘spray and pray’ approach is commonplace: offer a wide array of interventions and hope that some have a positive impact.

What if programs targeting the specific health issues of your workforce could be implemented – and then measured for effectiveness? What if programs targeting the specific health issues of your workforce could be implemented – and then measured for effectiveness?

That’s just one of the unique selling propositions of OzHelp, a provider of health and wellbeing programs. Founded in 2001, following the suicide of a young Canberra apprentice, OzHelp today engages and supports 34,000 people nationally each year. The nature of this engagement includes the design and delivery of health and wellbeing programs that are created to uniquely address physical and mental health issues in each workplace.

OzHelp offers employers market-leading tools to proactively support the health and wellbeing of their workforce.

The Workplace Tune-Up

Key to OzHelp’s success is its Workplace Tune-up (WTU), a screening tool delivered online to each employee, which then presents to the employer the aggregated health and wellbeing data of a workforce or industry, benchmarked against other workplaces with in-built data analytics. The data available from the WTU guides interventions so as to be based on need rather than ‘gut instinct."

James Mills, OzHelp’s director of operations, explains: “The report provided to workplaces includes a snapshot of physical health, mental health and how workplace practices impact on employees. It is a tool to measure the effectiveness of your activities and initiatives and gives you an evidence base to inform what future interventions you should consider undertaking in the space.”

The WTU report incorporates your workplace rating and benchmarking on a number of validated and reliable measures of employee health and wellbeing, including:

  • AusD risk – diabetes risk assessment
  • chronic disease risk assessment
  • W WEMBS (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale)
  • PHQ 9 Depression scale
  • productivity measures as linked directly to wellbeing (SPS6)

The report is split into three sections: Overall Ratings; Health and Nutrition; Workplace Practices. The benchmarks used consist of a combination of live benchmarking from OzHelp data over the past six years and population health data where appropriate. The WTU is data where appropriate. The WTU is endorsed by Nutrition Australia (ACT) and the Heart Foundation and was designed in collaboration with the University of Wollongong Graduate School of Medicine.

The data in a WTU report is de-identified and is intended solely to give a snapshot of the organisation, base to inform what intervention might be undertaken, and to measure the effectiveness of any activities undertaken. The report outlines:

  • the impact of workplace practices on the mental health of employee
  • average wellbeing scores of your organisation as compared to the benchmarks
  • overall physical and mental health ratings of your workplaces
  • productivity of the workforce as linked to wellbeing

Crucially, the WTU also addresses the ‘what’s in it for me?’ factor for employees. Those who take part receive personalised results and recommendations. As individual health issues are flagged via the WTU, OzHelp’s health and wellbeing coaches – including a team trained in mental health – and/or registered nurses will be prompted to offer ongoing confidential coaching to employees for up to 12 months. Employees can also request counselling support via the employer’s EAP provider.

In practice

The aggregated workforce data can then inform what activities in terms of training, etc. will have the biggest positive impacts on the workforce.

Mills provides an example of one client who discovered that over 40% of its workforce was not eating breakfast. Further exploration showed the nature of the shift work/starting times was a major reason for skipping breakfast. The client was subsequently able to implement a program to address that issue. This intervention then impacted on diabetes risk assessment and chronic disease risk assessments. Cross-pollinating data sets is also providing valuable insights.

“Some really interesting data correlations are starting to come through in the data. For example: people with a below-average wellbeing score are three times more likely to be actively looking for other work,” Mills says. 

Another example would be the large workplace that discovered they were below benchmark on 10 of 11 measurements of their workplace practices as they impacted on employees’ mental health. This provided the business case for the HR team to secure resources for training and structural interventions.

Making a start – and ongoing support

How does OzHelp initially engage with clients? Mills says that as the engagement strategy varies from employer to employer, industry to industry, a needs analysis assessment is the best way to suggest the way forward. A free demonstration of OzHelp’s services can be offered.

OzHelp also partners with client organisations to introduce programs and impart skills to ‘Wellbeing Ambassadors’. These ambassadors are empowered to deliver mental health and wellbeing training – including training in difficult conversations – and facilitate the rollout of OzHelp wellbeing programs themselves.

OzHelp master trainers provide ongoing mentoring and support to ambassadors, following their completion of a one-day ambassador training course.

Employers also receive a marketing pack to assist them with the rollout of the program. This pack includes three posters and an email template.

Mental and physical wellbeing

Importantly, OzHelp’s interventions support both the mental and physical wellbeing of employees. Mills says the company’s 15 years’ experience in the area proves the two are very much symbiotic. 

“We’ve always taken a whole-of-person approach to wellbeing, encompassing all aspects of a person’s life, and this approach is being increasingly validated with currently accepted best practice,” he says. “This is a design pillar of our programs, such as the WTU, along with ensuring a proactive approach to both physical and psychological wellbeing.

“For example, through participation in the Workplace Tune-Up we might pick up that an individual is not eating the recommended amount of fruit and veg or missing breakfast most mornings. In their follow-up coaching with our Wellbeing Support Team we find out that this is because they are sleeping on their friend’s couch because their relationship has broken down.

“People’s mental health impacts on physical health and habits and vice versa.”

Win-win

The old saying ‘you can lead a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink’ is apt when it comes to health. Employers can offer support and services, but it’s really up to the employee to take action – and that’s where OzHelp’s Workplace Tune-Up report offers so much value, providing valuable insights to both employers and employees. 

OZHELP: Founded in 2001, OzHelp engages and supports approximately 34,000 people each year with their health and wellbeing. OzHelp offers employers market-leading tools to proactively support the health and wellbeing of their workforce. Its award-winning suite of life-saving programs are designed and evaluated in conjunction with the University of Wollongong Graduate School of Medicine and are available to workplaces in any location across Australia. For further information on the Workplace Tune-Up and all OzHelp services, visit www.ozhelpconnect.org.au or phone 1300 694 357.

 

Recent articles & video

'There are a number of benefits that come from doing wellbeing well'

FWC finds early notice of end to fixed-term contract amounts to dismissal

Nearly 9 in 10 Australian employers concerned about finding top talent

SafeWork NSW announces more compliance checks for psychological safety

Most Read Articles

Queensland resolves dispute on long service leave entitlements

Fired for 'verbally abusing' manager? Worker cries unfair dismissal amid health issues

'Fuck this job': Senior colleague’s report against worker leads to dismissal