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CQ Nurse: A proactive and holistic health conscious approach

CQ Nurse recruits and places nurses and midwives in regional, rural and remote locations; is involved in community care; and offers workplace immunisations. The head office in Mackay employs 22 staff, mostly in sedentary occupations.

The program

The CQ Nurse health and wellbeing program started in 2008 and is now embedded into the annual operation and strategic plan of the organisation. An active occupational health and safety committee focuses on good health as an outcome rather than just a means of minimising harm. Activities are implemented to highlight safety, health and wellbeing by using a proactive and holistic health conscious approach.

To ensure CQ Nurse provides a healthy workplace environment, it has implemented the following:

  • showers and facilities to support active transport, gym attendance and before work and lunch time activities
  • a research study on the effectiveness of sit/stand desks on the health of workers and positive business outcomes
  • integration of health and wellbeing into strategic and operational plans
  • annual health screening and flu vaccinations
  • 'Fruit on Wednesday' where all staff contribute to a fruit platter for sharing
  • YouTube videos
  • corporate membership incentives promoted to staff such as come-and-try vouchers to local exercise classes including yoga, pilates, gyms and swimming pools.

To increase the knowledge, skills and abilities of workers to adopt healthy lifestyles, the following activities are offered:

  • daily group stretching exercises
  • healthy lifestyle challenges to increase physical activity and healthy eating including an annual step-by-step 12 week challenge
  • mental health activities (e.g. RUOK? Day, and 'Hat Day' initiatives)
  • cooking challenges whereby staff bring in plates to share for morning teas and luncheons, share the recipe, and identify the fat, sugar and salt content
  • healthy lifestyle education via newsletters, emails, toilet tips and toolbox talks
  • trialling an exercise physiologist and dietician for individual worker consultations, which has resulted in staff continuing this service at their own expense.

CQ Nurse has a new addition to the organisation—Courtney Quirke, a kitten—after a vote was taken on her inclusion into the office environment. Recent research[1] indicates having a pet in the office can relieve stress, boost productivity, improve employee working relationships, improve employee health, boost creativity and internal morale.

Challenges and solutions

The ongoing challenge is to achieve 100 per cent participation, however through promoting the fun element, team challenges and peer influence continues to increase engagement and culture within the organisation. Finding out what is important to staff (e.g. CQ Nurse staff love food and animals) and aligning this with no-cost prizes such as bringing a pet to work for the day, helps to overcome the reluctance to participate.

Time to participate during work hours without affecting productivity can be a challenge. Providing lunch hour and after work activities has encouraged staff engagement.

Continual promotion of activities and re-visiting successful past initiatives foster enthusiasm from new staff and encourage new and innovative ideas. Photos and videos of events are also a great way of recording how much fun the event was and reaffirms the positive message.

Monitoring and evaluation

CQ Nurse has moved from a yearly calendar of activities to a documented action plan that specifically ties into their operations and strategic plan. This ensures a more cohesive approach to health and wellbeing and embeds a goal common to management, the organisation, teams, individuals and the OHS committee. The action plan documents measurable objectives, activities, timelines, people responsible, resource requirements, evaluation indicators and tools required. This inclusive approach is an endorsement of the culture at CQ Nurse and is directly attributable to higher participation rates.

Health screenings, surveys and genuine verbal consultation with staff provide quantitative and qualitative data and new ideas for future initiatives. This is all achieved on a minimal budget with some innovation, access to free resources and sponsorship.

Results

  • CQ Nurse has renewed its gold recognition status as a Queensland Healthier. Happier. Workplace for the second year running
  • half of the staff now undertake 30 minutes of physical activity every day
  • the number of workers eating the recommended daily consumption of fruit has increased
  • the number of workers that are at high and medium risk of developing type 2 diabetes has reduced
  • sixty-five per cent of workers report continuing exercise physiologist and dietitian consultations in their own time, resulting in positive health benefits for them and their families
  • staff morale has increased
  • absenteeism has reduced, productivity is higher and staff attrition is lower.

[1] Preliminary investigation of employee's dog presence on stress and organizational perceptions
Randolph T. Barker, Janet S. Knisely, Sandra B. Barker, Rachel K. Cobb, Christine M. Schubert
International Journal of Workplace Health Management 2012 5:1. 15-30.

More information

Preventing illness and injury is an investment in your workforce. Find out what your organisation can do to improve health and wellbeing in your workplace: