A unique workplace initiative bringing together health providers and West Auckland businesses is delivering much more than good health.

Five businesses employing over 300 staff have made sustainable changes to their work environment, policies and practices to support improved health and wellbeing for their employees.  They are now celebrating increased camaraderie, a move to healthier food, group exercise and employees committed to making long term positive changes for their health.

Key relationships with business leaders from the Rosebank Road business community, developed by Healthy Families Waitakere, led to the opportunity to provide an innovative approach to support staff wellbeing.  A number of external health agencies were brought together to conduct health and wellbeing checks onsite at the workplaces.

Employees could undergo health checks including blood pressure; BMI; diabetes blood testing; waist circumference, weight and respiratory function; risk factor evaluation and nutrition; and counselling.

Healthy Families Waitakere Manager Kerry Allan says the success of the initiative is due largely to the unique collaboration between the health agencies.

“The real success of this is the collective action taken by the health providers to offer these checks - all had not worked together before.  The ability to have them all on site at the same time, coordinating their services at each work place was extremely well received, by employers and employees alike.

“Most of the businesses that participated are located in areas which are heavily populated with takeaway and convenience foods and on main transport routes.  Working environments play a critical role in supporting the health and wellbeing of staff and is an important focus for Healthy Families Waitakere.  We know if we can create more health promoting workplace environments where people spend a large amount of time, positive change is going to happen.”

Leading maritime manufacturer Southern Spars has identified the increased benefit to their staff wellbeing that these broader and more holistic checks have provided. 

“Previously we were testing hearing, lung function and muscle strength.  That’s from a health and safety perspective,” says Human Resources Manager Lisa Easte.

“I particularly like the wellness part of these checks because it was more holistic.  Any of the guys who had concerns, like blood pressure, identified themselves to me and were able to go off and either get counselling and have time off for stress, or even just follow up with their GP,” adds Lisa.

Yvonne Wood, Practice Manager at chartered accountancy firm UHY Haines Norton, says the results from the checks generated some valuable conversations within their team.

“It started a lot of dialogue.  Everyone was comparing their pieces of paper and people were saying “what was your sugar”, “what was your blood pressure”.  It got people talking about blood pressure and what’s normal, lifting awareness.  And it started conversations about exercise too.”

Yvonne says there has been lots of positive change across the business since the health and wellbeing checks, with the administration team taking micro breaks each hour to do some movement as an example.

“At board meetings now they have edam cheese, crackers, raw nuts with no salt and fruit.  What they used to have was sausage rolls, savouries and cake.”

These business leaders have now formed a wellness leadership group and aim to support other local business owners in the Rosebank business community to prioritise staff health and wellbeing. 
“With over 200 businesses located along Rosebank Road, this presents a significant opportunity to make large scale change,” adds Kerry.