Seqwater supplies water to South East Queensland as well as flood mitigation services and recreation facilities, employing 650 staff across 30 sites.
In 2011, Seqwater redeveloped its work health and safety management system including the incorporation of health and wellbeing components into the foundations of the new system.
Although Seqwater had run ad-hoc wellbeing activities since 2009, it wasn't until this integrated approach was initiated that wellbeing permeated every part of Seqwater's business in the same way that safety did – it became not just a 'nice to have', but a necessary part of business.
Seqwater's wellbeing program, Be Healthy Be Wealthy is a planned, structured and holistic program enabling all staff to access information and initiatives to improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Seqwater recognised that it could help prevent lifestyle-related disease by managing risk factors, and that business benefits could be achieved by having a healthier workforce. Its health and wellbeing program was awarded 'Best workplace health and wellbeing initiative' in the Queensland Safe Work Awards 2014.
Seqwater management demonstrated commitment through leadership participation and policies that support health and wellbeing, such as providing free initiatives and allowing them to be conducted during work hours.
A dedicated health program coordinator, supported by regional health and safety committees, develops and implements activities as part of the program. This fosters regular, broad engagement with workers and facilitates buy-in.
Employee feedback, together with de-identified data from annual health checks identifies 'hot spots' which form the basis of targeted initiatives. Identified priority areas focus on improving physical activity levels, nutrition and reducing smoking levels.
A multi-strategy approach
Information about health and wellbeing initiatives is delivered in a variety of ways including newsletters, intranet success stories, toolbox talks, posters, and permanent agenda items at meetings. Strategies include:
- annual health checks
- a quit smoking program
- a subsidised weight loss program at work
- wellbeing workshops (with topics ranging from reading food labels to mental health)
- boot camps
- yoga classes
- shower and bike facilities.
Well-defined and specific program goals have been set, ranging from employee participation rates, to fruit and vegetable consumption. An annual return on investment tool is also used to monitor success, and justify the business benefits to management.
The fragmented nature and variable shift patterns of the workforce as well as geographically diverse worksites makes consultation with workers challenging. As a result the Be Healthy, Be Wealthy program initially had low employee support and participation. To encourage involvement, Seqwater used site champions to promote participation across varying shift times and site locations.
As Be Healthy Be Wealthy evolved following integration with the safety management system, wellbeing was promoted hand-in-hand with safety by the work health and safety steering committees and improvement committees across the regions. This lent the program significant legitimacy and the site champion approach was no longer needed.
Since the introduction of the new work health and safety management system, Seqwater's lost time injury frequency rate reduced from 11.1 in 2013 to 1.9 in 2015 and the company has seen a steady reduction in workers' compensation premiums. The current premium rates are less than one quarter of the water supply industry average.
This equates to a premium saving of $7400 per $1 million in wages. This reduction was recognised despite increases in wages paid and an increase in the industry rate.
Workers have also reaped the benefits of a workplace health and wellbeing program, with employees who participated in both 2013 and 2014 annual health assessments seeing dramatic results:
- 44 per cent have improved their diets in line with nutrition guidelines.
- 18 per cent reduction in reported binge drinking.
- 11 per cent have improved their body fat composition.
The next phase of Be Healthy Be Wealthy will expand to include a stronger focus on mental health, and build on the financial wellness dimension.
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:
- call us on 1300 362 128
- visit Health and wellbeing at work.