Better living starts at work
AlburyCity in New South Wales encourages a holistic approach to staff wellbeing – including walks, workshops and health checks.
Gravel crunches softly underfoot as the walkers take a meandering path alongside a tree-lined billabong; around them, the air is filled with birdsong.
The walkers are AlburyCity team members and the place is Wonga Wetlands, a picturesque network of man-made billabongs on the city’s western outskirts.
The walk is part of AlburyCity’s Health and Wellbeing program, a series of services designed to help the council’s 450 staff improve their lives through a range of activities as diverse as skin and eye health checks, nutrition and parenting workshops, or help with home budgeting.
In place since 2013, the program evolved from an employee opinion survey, which identified a desire by team members for a holistic approach to wellbeing at work and at home.
“Our people work at a high level to provide the services our community expects in sometimes challenging circumstances and it makes sense for us as an employer to recognise that hard work,” said AlburyCity Mayor Kevin Mack.
“We understand that living well is about more than working hard at a job you enjoy. It’s also about maintaining mental and physical health, maximising quality time with friends and family away from work and taking opportunities to improve productivity, lifestyles and general wellbeing.”
The program continues to develop. The Wonga Wetlands walks are sometimes teamed with guided tours of the Yindyamarra Sculpture Walk – a spectacular Murray River-side trail that celebrates the region’s Aboriginal heritage.
These work-based activities have the added advantage of allowing the specialists in AlburyCity’s workforce to show the fruits of their labours to their colleagues.
Other activities or services in the program include eye and skin checks, mental health programs, workshops on how to save power, gardening tips, and participation in Movember.
Mayor Mack said the physical health services have attracted up to 200 team members at a time and in a handful of cases, potentially serious illnesses were detected and treated.
The next stage of the program will be held in October when AlburyCity will stage four mental health workshops supported by its Workers’ Compensation insurer, StateCover Mutual, and delivered by council’s Employee Assistance Program provider, Converge International.