Seasonal Stress Busting Tips

Christmas is widely regarded as the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be a time when stress levels soar. There’s often personal pressure to create the picture-perfect holiday, added financial strain and even increased family conflict – not to mention more stress at work thanks to holiday-shortened deadlines, anxious clients and customers, and frenzied end-of-year workloads.

Feeling overwhelmed by an increased To Do list, disappointed by unrealistic expectations and worried about money are some of the chief symptoms of the holiday blues – and with some retailers promoting the season as early as October, fatigue can begin to set in even earlier.

Most of us are aware of the adverse effects that stress can have on our emotional and physical wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown a correlation in the increased occurrence of heart attacks during the festive season, which may be due to increased stress, combined with heavy alcohol consumption and a fattier-than-usual diet.

Whether you’re looking for ideas to reduce your own holiday stress levels, or to help get your workers through the added pressure of the festive season, we’ve put together some top tips to help stop silly season stress in its tracks.

At Home: Be Mindful of Finances 

Financial strain is one of the leading causes of stress during the holiday season – but an increasing number of families are bucking this trend by focusing on spending less, and putting their focus on time together over gifts, extravagant decorations, and belly-boggling feasts. Something everyone can do to limit financial stress is set a budget, and making an effort to manage impulse spending. 

At Work: Go for a Walk

Getting away from your desk and going to a brisk walk is a good idea year round – but it’s especially important in the lead-up to Christmas, when stress-levels and workplace pressures are higher. Get away from your desk and take a walk around the block on your break. Exercise of any kind produces endorphins, and even a short stroll has been shown to reboot the brain in such a way that it reduces its response to stress.

At Home and At Work: Avoid Overindulging

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, and we can feel surrounded by extravagant foods and drinks at this time of year! Workmates bring Christmas cookies in to share and family members drop in for pre-Christmas drinks… and while all that merrymaking can seem like a nice treat in the short-term, those added glasses of wine and sugary treats can actually work against you by increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Don’t avoid a indulging altogether – just be treat-wise and stay mindful of portion sizes.

At Home: Kids’ Expectations

Managing the expectations of children at this time of year is never easy – particularly when it seems they’re surrounded by festive hype. Remind children that Christmas is about being together, and that they won’t receive everything on their wishlist to Santa. 

At Work: Prioritise Your To Do List

Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year in New Zealand – and it comes at rather an inconvenient time, being so close to end of year deadlines! Many workers spend December in a frenzy, attempting to complete reports and projects that have been left on the back burner… all the while aware that not everything is going to be marked as complete.

This year, prioritise your workload – deciding which tasks absolutely MUST be done before Santa’s sleigh bells ring, and which less urgent jobs can be dealt with in January, if need be. Talk through your workload, timelines and suggested priorities with your boss or manager so ensure you’re both on the same page, and to give them a chance to re-delegate as needed.

At Home and At Work: Delegate!

Workload and stress are clearly linked, and regular day-to-day demands (cooking, paid work, school runs) don’t stop just because Christmas is fast approaching. If anything – because workplaces and schools shut down over the break– those demands can actually increase, with seasonal tasks such as gift buying and decorating heaped on top.

Trying to achieve everything alone during the holidays can take its toll on your mind and body, so be sure to delegate at home and at work. Share out silly season tasks such as grocery shopping with other family members, or make decorating the tree a fun, shared event rather than a chore. At work, ask for help when you need it! Colleagues and co-workers with lighter workloads will be more than happy to pitch in and lend a hand.

At Home: Sleep

Research shows few adults get the recommended 8-hours of sleep each night, but being well-rested is particularly important during times of increased stress! If there’s just one thing you take away from these tips on managing stress, let this one be it. A lack of sleep affects your mood, diet and quality of work, so don’t stay up all night finishing last-minute reports at home, or wrapping presents. 

At Work: Ditch Secret Santa

Secret Santa is great in theory… but in reality, many workers feel they simply don’t have the time or resources to complete all their usual holiday-related tasks – let alone throw gift purchasing for someone they may not know all that well into the mix! Surveys have shown that Secret Santa shopping can add to feelings of anxiety among employees, because it’s just one more personal task to do, and it can be hard finding a ‘thoughtful’ and clever gift within a $5, $10 or $20 budget. If Secret Santa is a tradition in your workplace, consider gifting staff an hour off during the workweek to shop. 

At Home and At Work: Have Fun!

They say laughter is the best medicine, and for good reason. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, boosts circulation, releases endorphins, and – here’s the kicker – lessens the physical symptoms associated with stress. That all means savouring positive experiences, and giving yourself permission to have a little fun at home and at work, will help you get through those more stressful situations this festive season. 

Have 5-minutes before your next meeting starts? Find a Christmas meme and email it to your team. Take a couple of hours this weekend to sit down with your loved ones– or during some much-needed YOU time – and watch a Christmas movie. Pop a Christmas playlist on at work, or bake some festive cookies at home. The point is to decompress and get your to-do list off your mind for 5-minutes.

SkyCity Fire Highlights Importance of Managing Exposure to Airborne Contaminants

Following last month’s SkyCity fire, air quality experts have estimated the event caused a spike in particulate levels in Queen St air to more than five times national air quality standards. Smoke from the fire carried a combination of particles, burnt bitumen, wood smoke, and smoke from other building materials – resulting in tiny toxic particles potentially being drawn into the lungs and blood vessels of Aucklanders exposed. 

The event and subsequent air quality research serves as a timely reminder of the hazards of particulate spikes, which, at that level, could increase the risk of stroke, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also highlights the importance of Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) for New Zealand workers who may be exposed to harmful substances, such as isocyanates, dusts and asbestos.

TriEx offers a variety of air quality and related health services, including lung function testing and Respirator Fit Testing and education.

Spirometry

Spirometry is an office test measuring lung function by testing the amount of air you inhale, how much air you exhale and how fast you exhale. It’s useful in diagnosing breathing conditions by measuring the speed your lungs can be filled and emptied of air – giving an indication of how well your lungs are performing.

TriEx offers lung function tests – including spirometry – for employees who are exposed to contaminants in the air that could affect lung function.

What does Lung Function Testing Include?

  • Assessment of the employee’s past and present air contaminant history (includes recreational)

Full diagnostic Spirometry

Explanation of the results to the employee

Education on responsibility to protect

Assessment of their respiratory protection to comply with your annual audit of PPE

Lung Function Testing Helps You:

  • Identify employees at risk from hazardous air contaminants in the workplace
  • Comply with the ‘Approved Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Isocyanates’ and ‘Workplace Exposure Standards’
  • Take necessary action with regard to respiratory protection

What can Employees Expect During Their Test?

Spirometry tests are straightforward and will usually only take around 15 minutes. The test involves taking a full breath in and blowing out with your best effort into a tube attached to the spirometer machine.

To ensure accuracy, the test will be performed three times, and employees will be asked to:

  • Breathe in as deeply as they can
  • Seal their lips around the mouthpiece
  • Blow out as hard and fast as they can, and keep going as long as possible.

Spirometry tests may cause employees to feel a bit puffed, but usually it is not uncomfortable.  

If your workers are likely to be exposed to airborne contaminants, you will need to undertake air monitoring for chemical and dust exposure.

Respirator Fit Testing

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) that guards workers from breathing in substances hazardous to health. 

Airborne substances harmful to health can be in found dust, mist, vapour or gas form, and employees may or may not be able to see these in the air. Common health effects from breathing hazardous substances may include headaches, forgetfulness, drowsiness, feeling dizzy and sick, mood changes, and eye and skin irritation. Effects can be short and long-term, with long-term effects including sleep disorders, memory loss, cancer, organ damage, fertility problems and death. 

If anyone in your team wears Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) then as the PCBU you must provide information, training or instruction on how to correctly use, wear, store and maintain the RPE.

RPE Fit Testing Requirements

Fit testing is required by AS/NZS 1715 before a respirator is worn in the workplace to ensure workers are wearing properly fitting RPE, with an effective seal to the face. 

A fit test should be conducted:

  • Upon the issue of RPE, 
  • Whenever a different size, style, model or make of respirator is used
  • When any facial changes occur that could affect fit, such as significant weight changes or significant dental work

RPE fit tests should also be conducted at least annually to ensure fit remains correct. TriEx recommends fit testing alongside annual health monitoring, where our Occupational Health Nurses discuss respiratory history and exposure history an perform lung function testing.

What is Involved in RPE Fit Testing?

TriEx carries out Qualitative Fit Testing for half face respirators used in environments where the hazard is less than 10 times the workplace exposure standard.

A sensitivity test is completed without RPE under a hood. The RPE is then worn and either a bitter or sweet solution is introduced whilst the worker carries out a variety of activities for one minute each including:

  • Normal breathing
  • Deep breathing
  • Moving head side to side
  • Moving head up and down
  • Bending over (or jogging in place)
  • Talking
  • Normal breathing again

RPE Education

Education is given as part of TriEx’s RPE Fit Testing service. This education includes care and maintenance of respiratory equipment and how to fit check RPE.

Contact TriEx today to learn more about lung function testing and RPE fit testing and education. Our experts can advise you on the most appropriate services to meet your business needs.

October Newsletter

The final quarter of 2019 is here and the official start of Summer is just 5 weeks away! Many of our clients are currently taking time to review their occupational safety policies and procedures in anticipation of the warmer months ahead, while making a start on their planning for (gasp!) 2020. That’s why, this month, we’re providing some timely expert advice on the importance of reducing your team’s risk of heat stress, and tips on supporting your team to increase their activity levels in the ongoing fight against obesity.

Read our October newsletter online for full details.

Health & Wellness Initiatives to Combat Obesity in the Workplace

The World Health Organization describes the prevalence of obesity as an epidemic – and New Zealanders are taking out the Bronze medal in the ongoing race to be the world’s heaviest nation.

Obesity is associated with a wide range of health risks – and it can also have a significant negative impact for businesses. Learn more about obesity in the workplace in New Zealand, and the Dos and Don’ts of supporting health and wellness at work.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass. 

Obesity Health Impacts & Risks

Obesity is associated with a long list of health conditions including, but not limited to:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Ischaemic heart disease (IHD)
  • Stroke
  • Several Common Cancers
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Reproductive abnormalities

As obesity also puts added strain on joints, the number of New Zealanders needing knee replacements is expected to skyrocket over the next 20 years – with researchers noting much of this is to do with the country’s alarming obesity rates.

Obesity in New Zealand

New Zealand has the third highest adult obesity rate in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), behind only the United States and Mexico.

Obesity rates in New Zealand continue to rise, with around one in three adult Kiwis (over 15 years) being classified as obese, and one in ten children. In 2015, 1.1 million New Zealanders were considered clinically obese but by 2038 that could be two million.

A 2018 Otago University report published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health showed the average Body Mass Index (BMI) of New Zealanders increased from 26.4 in 1997 to 28.3 in 2015. The report estimates that, if this trend continues, New Zealand’s averageBMI would exceed the obesity threshold of 30 by the early 2030s.

Researcher Dr Ross Wilson from the University of Otago’s Centre for Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research at the Dunedin School of Medicine stated that high BMI has now “overtaken tobacco as the greatest contributor to health loss in New Zealand”, which emphasises the public health importance of the research findings.

The Impact of Obesity on Businesses

Numerous studies have been conducted globally to quantify the impact of obesity in the workplace. Key findings show:

Obese employees will often need to take more time off work – both short and long term – because of associated health conditions.

Obesity can affect the productivity of a workplace. Because an obese employee’s health may be worse, and they may be more likely to suffer from issues such as back problems or sleep apnoea – meaning that, even if they aren’t taking time off work, ‘presenteeism’ can be an issue, as their health conditions may affect their ability to perform productively.

Both absenteeism and presenteeism can cause significant workplace costs for businesses. One study concluded that an organisation with more than 1000 staff members could expect to face upwards of $245,000 annually in lost productivity due to employee obesity.

Obesity & the Workplace

While it’s all well and good for employers to bemoan the negative impacts of obesity on their bottom line, it’s important to note that the relationship between obesity and work is complex. Routines and behaviours at work – particularly given that much of modern work is sedentary – can have a substantial impact on lifestyle and wellbeing.

It’s clearly not the job of employers to make judgements or pass comment on the size and weight of employees – especially when work can often play a major part in influencing eating and exercise habits.

Instead, encouraging exercise and healthy eating among staff members should form part of a far broader initiative to promote staff health and wellbeing. Employers can do this in many ways – from introducing walking meetings and cycle-to-work schemes, to offering discounted gym memberships or providing only healthy foods onsite in cafeterias and vending machines.

Supporting Health & Wellness at Work

While it can be uncomfortable talking to employees about topics such as obesity, studies show that wellness initiatives can boost morale, productivity and performance at work. Developing a well-rounded ‘wellness strategy’ in the workplace facilitates these kinds of conversations without making employees feel uncomfortable, or employers and HR teams feel as though they’re finger-wagging.

Want to help your workforce make better choices and move into sustainably healthy routines? Consider ways in which your organisation can provide opportunities for staff to (a) eat a healthy diet, through accessibility, promotion and incentivised cost, and (b) get more exercise throughout the workday.

In developing your organisation’s plan to push people towards better health and wellness outcomes, it’s vital to take care not to alienate, discourage or even harm employees by following the simple Dosand Don’tsoutlined below.

DO Encourage Healthy Choices & Physical Activity

Your employees spend most of their time at work – so it’s important to foster a workplace culture and environment that encourages healthy behaviours. This may include offering healthy food choices, or simply encouraging employees to get up and walk around at regular intervals – which studies show can actually increase their productivity as well as their physical fitness. 

To create a more activity-friendly workplace, consider installing standing desks and holding standing and walking meetings. Something as simple as moving water coolers, rubbish bins and printer stations away from desks helps encourage more movement. 

DO Think Like Your Marketing Team

Exercise and healthy eating can be a hard sell to employees, so communicate information about health and wellness initiatives in ways that encourage positive action. Place messaging about wellness in strategic areas like the foot of the stairs or on elevator doors to encourage exercise. Use gamification to challenge employees to a day without sugar or an activity scavenger hunt. 

DO Implement a Total Wellness Approach

Wellbeing is multidimensional – incorporating physical, social, emotional and financial factors – so it’s important that workplace programmes address multiple aspects of wellbeing. For example, a company touch football team can cater to employees’ social and physical needs. Look at the whole picture, and seek staff feedback to get a feel for what is going to engage them most and meet their needs best.

DON’T Make Broad Assumptions About Health

Health is not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important to remember that – although obesity can cause or exacerbate other health issues – some individuals may actually be “healthier” at higher weights.  

Encouraging staff to lose weight across the board, without considering their individual health profile, has the potential to lead to other health issues, so consider the unique needs of individuals.

DON’T Force Staff to Participate in Programmes 

There is still a great deal of stigma associated with obesity, so it’s vital that your organisation supports employees when they want to make healthy choices, without forcing them into programs they are unhappy about participating in. 

Demoralizing staff through enforced health programmes can impact productivity even more negatively than obesity, so take a gentle but inviting approach for best results and employee buy-in.

DON’T Focus Solely on Weight Loss

Competitions around weight loss can be dangerous, so avoid this kind of incentivising and gamification. Not only can these kinds of competitions alienate employees who really need support – they can foster unhealthy attitudes to food, nutrition and wellness, and have the opposite to the desire effect. Instead, as mentioned above, focus on a more holistic approach to wellness as whole. The goal should always be health and wellness, as opposed to kilograms or BMI.

Workplace Fundraising Ideas for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is breast cancer awareness month – an international health campaign founded in 1985 to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

This month is a particularly great time to get your team involved and do your bit to raise funds to support Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand. If you’re like to get your team involved, we’ve got a complete A to Z list of ideas to inspire you!

Breast Cancer in New Zealand

Breast cancer is New Zealand’s third most common cancer – accounting for more than 600 deaths every year. In New Zealand, 9 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every day.

Breast cancer doesn’t only affect women. While more than 3300 New Zealand women will be diagnosed each year with breast cancer, so will 25 men. Globally, there were more than 2 million new cases of breast cancer in 2018, with New Zealand ranking 10thin the world in terms of the highest rates of breast cancers per 100,000 people.

About Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand

Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand is a not-for-profit charitable trust relying entirely on donations from the New Zealand public, including personal donations, fundraising events and corporate partnerships.

The Foundation is committed to raising awareness and educating the public about breast cancer, while supporting women diagnosed with the disease through counselling, cancer rehab classes, a breast nurse helpline and more. To date, Breast Cancer Foundation New Zealand has distributed more than $2million for breast cancer research and medical grants.

Each year – and especially throughout October – events are organised around New Zealand by groups, businesses and individuals in support of the Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. If you’re planning on hosting a fundraising event at work, you can pledge your donation online via their website. You can also find loads of great resources to share with your team.

A – Z Workplace Fundraising Ideas

Looking for inspiration for your workplace fundraising event? Here’s a complete A to Z of easy-peasy ideas to help you get started!

A is for Afternoon Tea
Organise a workplace afternoon tea, complete with healthy snacks, scones, jam and cream! Brew a pot or two of berry herbal tea, or swap tea for pink lemonade. 

B is for Bake Sale
Nominate your team’s most talented bakers, or ask everyone to try their hand at baking a treat to bring in. Set up a bake sale table that the team can peruse and purchase from throughout the day.

C is for Coconut Bra Competition
Here’s something a little different! Run a competition where your teammates offer a gold coin donation to create – and decorate – a coconut bra. Have a fun ‘boobie’ prize lined up for the winner!

D is for Dance Party
Gather the troops for an event outside the office and head to your local pub, club or bar to hit the D-floor. If an out-of-office event isn’t right for your team, celebrate with a mini dance party during lunch. Organise a prize for the best disco moves!

E is for Eating Competition
Whether it’s hot dogs, dry Weet-bix or bar chocolate devoured with knives and forks (gloves optional!) a good old fashioned eating competition can be tons of fun. Take entry fees to donate to Breast Cancer Foundation NZ.

F is for Fancy Dress Film Night
Have a lot of film-buffs in the office? Organise a fancy dress film night – either at someone’s home or the local cinema, depending on the size of your team.

G is for Garage Sale
Have everyone bring in any books, toys, small appliances, clothing or other bits and bobs they no longer need and have a garage sale to raise funds for The Breast Cancer Foundation. You could keep it in-house, or open it up to the public.

H is for Halloween Party
October is also home to Halloween on the calendar, so tee up a spooktacular event at the office, or a venue after hours. Bonus points if you can theme the costume competition around boo-bs!

I is for Information Day
Host an information day (or an information morning) for your team, with local experts, workshops and take-home resources to raise awareness about breast health.

J is for Jazzercise Hour
Start the workday off with a team-wide Jazzercise class! Not only is this a great way to get some exercise into your day, but this 80s throwback workout is tons of fun.

K is for Karaoke Night
Head to the local Karaoke bar or hire a machine and set it up at the office. Take entry fee donations to raise funds. You could even grab a trophy to award to the best set of pipes in your team, and make it an annual event! 

L is for Ladies’ Day
Breast cancer predominantly affects women, so raise awareness in the workplace by holding a Ladies’ Day brunch, luncheon, or fun day. Get your male colleagues involved by inviting them to don a dress for a day of good-spirited fun!

M is for Marathon
A marathon is 42.195 kms – but you don’t have to do it all at once! Grab a bunch of pedometers, distribute them among your team, and have them collect sponsorship donations for every kilometre they walk in a week, with 42.195 being the goal!

N is for Nature Walk
In keeping with the walking theme, you could also give your team a collective day out of the office, workshop or worksite to take a hike, trek or nature walk together. Have everyone dress in pink to raise awareness.

O is for Office Olympics 
Set aside an afternoon for your team to participate in an Office Olympics tournament, with challenges set up around your worksite. Games could include an office chair relay, paper ball toss – anything you can (safely) do for fun at work!

P is for PINK Day!
What better way to show your support than by going PINK! Encourage everyone at work to bring in a donation and dress in pink for the day to help raise awareness.

Q is for Quiz Night
Quiz nights are heaps of fun, and a great way to raise funds for a worth cause! You can join an existing Quiz Night at a local venue, or nominate a Quizmaster and hold your own. Bonus points for boob-related questions!

R is for Raffle
A raffle is a great, simple way to raise donations for charity – all you need is a prize! Donate items your business creates, or reach out to other local businesses and ask for their support. Sell tickets to your team, your customers, and via your Facebook page.

S is for Sausage Sizzle
Sausage sizzles are the quintessential Kiwi fundraiser, so head down to the local butcher to stock up, then fire up the BBQ! Make a day of it, or run a sausage sizzle every Friday for the month of October. 

T is for Teddy Bear’s Picnic
Like the idea of a family-friendly event your staff can bring their kids to? A Teddy Bear’s Picnic is just the ticket! Set up at the local park, plan games for kiddos, and ask everyone brings a donation and a plate to share. Easy.

U is for Umbrella Challenge 
Have your colleagues make like Rihanna for a day with an umbrella challenge for charity! The rules are simple. Everyone keeps an umbrella on them all day, and you have a designated Challenge Master blow a whistle at random. Anyone not holding their umbrella when the whistle blows is out – the last team member standing gets a prize.

V is for Vacation Day Silent Auction
Think your team would be down to bid on a paid vacation day in a silent auction for charity?! Us to! If your business is willing to donate one day of paid leave, ask your team to bid for it by enclosing their name with a donation to charity. Highest bidder enjoys a day off!

W is for Cash Wash
The days are starting to warm up in October, so a car wash is a great opportunity for your team to get outdoors, have fun, and raise funds! Set up a car washing station at your premises, or a nearby school or gas station. All you need are some buckets, soapy water and some sponges!

X is for Xbox Tournament 
Whether your workforce is made up of Millennials, Gen Xers or a combination of both, everyone can get on board with an afternoon of gaming! Pick a classic game and take entry fees to be donated – the winner gets bragging rights!

Y is for Yoga Class
Get a local yoga instructor in for a one-off session, or invite them to hold classes onsite throughout the month! Sell tickets to staff to participate. Not only will you raise funds, you’ll also help staff discover a new way to de-stress and enhance their health.

Z is for Zoo Trip
Get in touch with your local zoo! Many will offer discounted rates for group or mid-week bookings – especially if the aim is to raise money for charity! Sell tickets to your staff, and invite them to bring their families. 

September Newsletter

The spring flowers are starting to appear, and many workplaces are looking for ways to help their teams recharge their batteries and get back into the zone following winter. That’s why, this month, our newsletter focuses on wellbeing – both physical and mental – in the workplace.

Happy and safe employees are good for your bottom line, so we’ve compiled some tips on increasing staff wellbeing, satisfaction and productivity.

Read our September newsletter online for full details.

Health & Wellness Employee Benefits to Recruit the Best Staff

Recruiting – and retaining – the right staff is vital to your organisation’s ability to grow and thrive. Studies show having great employee benefits on offer can help attract a higher calibre of candidates, while also fostering a positive company culture and encourage staff loyalty. Placing a focus on health and wellness in your employee benefits package is not only great for your staff… it’s also good for business! 

What are Employee Benefits?

Employee benefits can vary widely from company to company, but typically are considered non-salary compensation provided by organisations in addition to salary or wages to create a competitive package for employees.

Common employee benefits in New Zealand include mobile phone and laptop use, company car use, remote and flexible working agreements, retirement plans, and additional or discretionary leave entitlements.

Essentially, any ‘perks’ or rewards your business offers employees on top of their salary is considered part of their employee benefits! 

A solid employee benefits package can help to attract and retain talent.

How do Employee Benefits Assist in Recruitment?

As more people understand the importance of work-life balance, an increasing number of candidates and prospective employees are looking beyond their hourly rate or annual salary when considering which role is right for them.

Building an employee benefits package that appeals to, and meets the needs of, your current employees and target candidates – and then promotingthose benefits in recruitment materials – is a great way to show potential team members how much you value and reward you staff.

In a competitive industry, benefits can also help you differentiate your business from competitors. When considering similar positions with similar salaries, a candidate is going to look beyond the pay packet to the added extras – including those things that make a company great to work for. 

How do Employee Benefits Encourage Staff Loyalty?

As part of this trend towards greater work-life balance, an increasing number are looking to join organisations where they will feel valued, receive praise and recognition, and where the company culture is one of support and appreciation. 

Research shows employees stay in roles for far longer when they are happy and feel valued – and offering benefits to your employees shows them you are invested in their job satisfaction.

Offering an appealing employee benefits package that encourages staff retention will more often than not far outweigh the cost of recruitment and training when you have a higher staff turnover.

Health & Wellness Benefits

If you look at the companies rated the best places to work in the world (Google, Lululemon and Facebook rank consistently high, year after year), you’ll note that all of them have great employee benefits packages in place to recruit and retain staff – and most place a significant focus on health and wellness within those benefits packages.

For example, Google’s employees have access to free meals at campus cafes and micro kitchens, can stay fit by exercising at on-site gyms and attending free workout classes, and can enjoy relaxation time thanks to highly trained massage therapists available on-site. 

Facebook offers on-site health and dental care, free healthy meals and $4,000 “baby cash” bonuses for new parents. Lululemon encourages employee health and fitness with free classes, and company-paid fitness classes, which many employees attend together and excellent health insurance, including vision and dental.

Wellness Benefits Ideas

You don’t need to be a billion-dollar corporation to offer exciting and meaningful benefits to your employees. Here are some ideas that even SMEs and startups can build into their compensation packages to support employee health and wellness:

  1. Gym memberships 
  2. Aquatic centre memberships
  3. Health insurance
  4. Life insurance
  5. Dental and vision checks
  6. Fruit and healthy snacks at work
  7. Flexible work hours
  8. Remote work options
  9. Paid volunteer days
  10. Paid vacation days on birthdays
  11. Professional counselling 
  12. Paid professional development 
  13. Access to wellness retreats
  14. Access to wellbeing services such as chiropractors
  15. Ergonomic chairs and office equipment
  16. Additional paid parental leave
  17. Additional bereavement leave
  18. On-site or paid daycare
  19. Subscriptions to wellness packages
  20. Staff vaccinations

The great thing about health and wellness employee benefits is that they reward your staff while improving your company’s bottom line. Healthier employees mean reduced healthcare costs for your organisation, fewer sick days, and more employees bringing their best selves to work every day.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing

Endorsed by the World Federation for Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off in New Zealand on September 23 – and this year is all about encouraging Kiwis to explore their way to wellbeing (Whāia te ara hauora, Whitiora).

The week is an opportunity for you and your team to explore the experiences, actions, relationships and surroundings that make you feel good and uplift your wellbeing – in essence, discovering the things that make you feel good, individually and as a team, and doing more of them! 

What are the Five Ways to Wellbeing?

In 2008 the British government contracted the New Economics Foundation to come up with a set of actions that improve personal wellbeing. 

The idea was to develop a 5+ a day style set of principals for wellbeing that were evidence-based and accessible to everyone. The New Economics Foundation reviewed studies from around the world and conducted an enormous number of interviews – resulting in a report that identified five key actions, which, if done regularly, were scientifically proven to enhance wellbeing.

These five key actions or themes have been adopted around the world as the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Connect | Me Whakawhanaunga
The first principle is based on evidence that people are stronger when they pull together and build meaningful connections with others.

Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. 

Be Active | Me kori tonu
The second principle focuses on the proven physiological and psychological effects of being active.

Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. 

Take Notice | Me aro tonu
The third principle relates to mindfulness, and the importance of being present.

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. 

Keep Learning | Me ako tonu
The fourth principle is about the proven benefits of challenging oneself and experiencing new things.

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. 

Give | Tukua
The fifth and final principle is based on research linking the act of giving with physical and health benefits, as well as emotional benefits such as ‘helper’s high’.

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

How Ways to Wellbeing can Benefit Your Business

Mental wellbeing is one of your organisation’s most valuable business assets, and it’s been proven that workplaces where mental health is prioritised have better engagement, reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, greater morale and higher job satisfaction among staff.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are proven to help people find balance, build resilience and boost mental health and wellbeing – and can support workplaces to meet their health and safety obligations to manage risks to mental health and wellbeing. 

The Ways to Wellbeing at Work

Here are some simple ideas you can implement in your workplace, utilising the Five Ways to Wellbeing to support your staff, boost morale, and increase productivity.

Encourage Connection
Support your team members to build meaningful relationships at work. This could include:

  1. Setting up a staff social club where team members organise a quarterly outing 
  2. Organising shared lunches at work
  3. Hosting weekly games or competitions in the office
  4. Finishing two-hours earlier one Friday a month for a trip to the bowling alley
  5. Annual team-building trips

Encourage Giving & Generosity
It feels good to give! Supporting your staff and colleagues to give could include:

  1. Participating in national charity events like the SPCA Cupcake Day
  2. Holding an annual food drive, where staff can bring canned goods for donation
  3. Giving staff one paid day off a quarter to volunteer in the local community
  4. Fostering a culture of generosity, where staff give compliments and champion one another
  5. Donating company time to a local charity 

Encourage Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to help your staff find balance. At work, this might look like:

  1. A weekly guided meditation or yoga class
  2. Quiet break spaces, where staff can take a few moments to decompress
  3. An ‘unplug’ policy, where staff are encouraged NOT to check emails on days off
  4. A gratitude wall, where staff share notes on things they’re thankful for
  5. Weekly ‘celebration’ breakfasts, where the team catches up on good news

Encourage Learning
No matter what their role within your business, every employee wants to be challenged and enjoy variety. Your organisation could:

  1. Sponsor professional development courses and continued education
  2. Host a ‘random facts’ brunch each month, where employees share fun trivia
  3. Hold fun peer learning sessions, where employees lead a workshop on a project, hobby or passion
  4. Set up a mini library in the break room, stocked with books staff can borrow
  5. Partner with a local dance, cooking or sewing school, and offer classes free to staff

Encourage Movement
Being active isn’t just good for your employees’ physical health – it has also been proven to increase their mental and emotional wellbeing. Your organisation could:

  1. Establish daily walking meetings at the local park
  2. Get together a team for local indoor netball or touch rugby
  3. Eradicate tired office chairs in favour of Swiss balls and standing desks
  4. Set up a phone loop around the building so staff can walk while on calls
  5. Implement a stand and stretch policy, encouraging staff to get out of their chairs and every couple of hours

Looking for ideas to further integrate the Five Ways of Wellbeing into your company’s policies and workplace culture? Check out the Five Ways Toolkit from the Mental Health Foundation and Health Promotion Agency for free resources.