Supporting employees to live well

Lake Macquarie City Council in New South Wales has created a new framework aimed at promoting wellness among its employees.

The Wellbeing Framework takes a holistic approach to health, bringing together new and existing workplace initiatives to improve employee wellbeing across eight areas: physical; emotional; intellectual; environmental; financial; social; occupational; and spiritual.

People Support Advisor, Kristie Teerman, said employee feedback played a key role in the Framework’s development.  
“In 2015, we conducted a survey to find out the kinds of mental health resources our employees were interested in,” Ms Teerman said.

“People responded really positively to the survey and were eager to learn how they could improve both their own emotional wellbeing, and that of their peers and teams.

“In response to this feedback, Council delivered a Mental Health Awareness Program as part of Safe Work Month to help educate employees on a range of mental health issues including stress management, emotional resilience and assisting others during a mental health crisis.

“One in four employees attended a presentation throughout the week, equating to an 800-hour investment in mental health. The presentations struck a chord among our workforce so we decided to do more to support them further on their wellness journey.”

Historically, Lake Macquarie City Council employees have had access to a range of wellbeing initiatives including a Corporate Fitness Program, which includes access to in-house yoga and meditation and Pilates and stretch classes, Employee Assistance, weight management and quit smoking programs, annual flu vaccinations and skin checks, and more.

Manager Organisational Performance, Laura Kendall, said as well as making the most of existing services, the Framework sets out a range of new initiatives to be rolled out over the next five years.
These include quarterly presentations from Council’s Employee Assistance provider, targeted training to help employees recognise and respond to mental illness, and the creation of a Wellbeing Resource Kit for every Council employee.  

“Research shows that about 20 per cent of the adult working population will be dealing with a mental health issue at any given time,” Ms Kendall said.

“This figure is predicted to increase over time, so acting now to protect our employees delivers a range of benefits. By recognising the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, we can support continued high levels of engagement, lower levels of absenteeism and lower staff turnover.

“Of course, as an employer, we are not solely responsible for our employees’ happiness, but it makes good business sense to provide tools and resources that enable all employees to be the best possible version of themselves.

“By supporting employee wellbeing we put our workforce in a strong position to continue delivering great services to our customers with high levels of productivity.”