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Small business health and wellbeing master class

Alison HolyoakeBell Leahy

Presented by: Alison Holyoake, marketing and events management professional for Dig-It Landscapes and Bell Leahy, Senior Advisor with the Healthy Workers' Initiative within Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Run time: 35:12

Download a copy of this podcast (MP3, 20 MB)

Construction work health forum podcast

Presented by: Alison Holyoake and Bell Leahy


Alison Holyoake:

Hello. So this is probably a slightly different flavour presentation to all the ones that you've heard today. But hopefully, you can take something away from it. Thank you for coming to listen, as well, with the competition next door.

So who is Dig-It Landscapes? I thought I'd let the images kind of speak for themselves. We're a commercial landscape construction company. You might right recognise some of the projects that we've worked on around Brisbane. We've go the Gasworks Plaza there, Southbank Stream. Legacy Way is the new, four hectare extension to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mount Coot‑tha. We believe in creating visually inspiring spaces that encourage people to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

Now statistically speaking, Dig-It isn't a small business. We've been in operation for over 25 years and we have regional offices in Adelaide and Canberra, with our head office based in Brisbane. Across the company, we have about 180 staff with about 25 people in the Brisbane head office and about 90 site staff across southeast Queensland. But this initiative that I've come to talk to you about today was run with a small business model. As has just been said, that's within a larger company. We are kind of smaller units within. So I'm here to talk to you about how we utilised a health and wellbeing initiatives as a sales and marketing tool to generate new business for the company.

So what exactly was it? We were basically approached by an organisation called Health Creation Australia who presented this idea to us of an eight week corporate fitness challenge. We jumped on board the idea, wanted to make it our own and came up with the Dig Deep Health Challenge that aligned with our grant. Essentially, the program could be as large or small as we wanted it to be. So we decided to invite nine client companies to take part, who are predominantly landscape architects and some developers as well.

Essentially, across the eight weeks, each organisation had a body composition scale placed in their office. Everybody weighed in at the start of the program. The body composition scales measured body weight, muscle mass, water retention, body fat percentage and those kind of things. Each individual within the company teams had their own personal online profile. That was private. Only accessible to them and our trainer, Steve Nutall. We held a weekly group fitness session at Kangaroo Point cliffs. That was accessible to everybody, but totally optional if people wanted to participate. We kicked off the campaign with a group nutrition information session, which Steve, our trainer, went around and delivered to all of the organisations participating. Everyone was certainly a bit shocked by some of the things that they found out there. But we definitely got the buy in from everybody from that very first session to kind of take the challenge seriously and do the best that they could.

These are just a few photos from the training sessions. I don't know if anybody's ever trained at Kangaroo Point cliffs, but running up and down those steps is a killer. After the first training session, I think we were all walking around the office like penguins because it was definitely a bit of a shock to the system. But by the end of the eight weeks, everybody noticed a real increase in their fitness levels. Steve certainly put us through our paces. Everybody relished the challenge by the end. It was a fantastic opportunity, when we were all together, to kind of get a bit of competitiveness, a bit of morale and team building at those sessions. So they were invaluable, really, to the success of the campaign.

So for us, the core objective of hosting the Dig Deep Health Challenge was to enhance the relationships with our target markets and to create new opportunities for industry collaboration. Essentially, to generate new business for us. What was particularly appealing for us about the campaign was providing eight weeks where we could maintain regular, consistent communication with our target markets; where Dig-It would constantly front of mind. We would have a presence with them. As I mentioned the fitness sessions was a weekly, face to face opportunity to network in a very fun and informal environment. You know, that's very different to the normal corporate networking events that you attend. [It] obviously aligned very well with our brand. We like to do things a bit differently, try to be innovative. We're quite competitive and enjoy being outdoors and promoting that enjoyment of the outdoors. It was appealing to the interests of our team in Dig-It and also our target market and recognising the need to improve health and wellbeing within the industry.

This was just a comment that one of the architects made at the very first session which kind of stayed with me. It was the first time they'd ever seen this number of landscape architects together outside of work in a more social environment. To us, that leads to a positive association with Dig-It for facilitating that.

So what were the results? For participants, everybody saw an improvement with their health and were, on the whole, really pleased with their results. Which they probably wouldn't have achieved without participating in this challenge. Over 100kg was lost in weight across the group. The biggest loser shed 9.3kg. The Dig Deep individual champion made the best improvement across the board to their health, which included a loss of 4.4kg and 7.9% body fat and an increase of 6.7% muscle mass. When the challenge ended, everybody was a bit gutted because, you know, everyone had seen such an improvement in their health and was kind of loving feeling healthier. So we're constantly getting asked when Dig Deep 2016 is coming. Which is really great for us, from a marketing perspective.

So what were the results for Dig-It? We'll start off with the financial results, which was obviously, as a business development initiative, this was our core objective. So we traced seven new jobs that we won back to new relationships that we had developed throughout the challenge. We believe that the challenge opened the doors to giving us the opportunity to tender for these jobs. Obviously it's not an exact science. Dig Deep wasn't the only reason that we won those jobs. It was obviously we did an awesome submission and we had the capabilities to deliver the job. But with an investment of $20,000 in the budget for the campaign, we've attributed that we made a total revenue of over $1 million. The individual contract values of the jobs that we won varied from the lowest at $45,000 to up to $476,000. So theoretically, you could say that the attributed ROI was for every $1 that we spent, we made $58 back. So obviously, from that perspective, it was ridiculously successful.

For the non-financial benefits; within the office, there was a noticeable improvement in just the environment, the mood, the kind of bonding within the team. A lot of our guys go out on their lunchbreaks and they get fast food for lunch. The fridge was full of salads and some of the guys were making Rivita's for their lunch. We were constantly drinking water and yo-yoing in and out of the toilets [laughter]. Everybody was, after the weekend, what have you eaten over the weekend? Did you fall off the wagon? We didn't expect to kind of have that success out of it and that much of an impact out of it, really. So we've definitely taken that on board.

What worked well? In the planning of the campaign, we consulted with our team and participating organisations to find out when would be the best time for them to attend training sessions. As a result, we held – we alternated each week between a Tuesday evening and a Wednesday morning session to try and make it more accessible to people. Kangaroo Point was deemed as a central location. Also a very challenging location. To us, it was really important that we maximised that communication throughout the eight weeks. So we did some key touchpoint planning right from the initial welcoming presentations and nutrition information session to the weekly fitness sessions. I was sending out weekly e-communications to everybody with the leader board and some health and wellness tips and motivational quotes and funny photos and things like that. We held a Dig Deep social midway through that was just some healthy catering after the training session. Which just provided more of an opportunity to talk. Then we hosted a Dig Deep decathlon as the finale event. Which, quite fittingly, we hosted at the Legacy Way extension at the Mount Coot‑tha Botanic Gardens, which was recently completed at that time. Also, the landscape architects who designed it were taking part in the campaign. So it was a really nice opportunity to showcase their work and ours. So that's just some photos from the event.

Yeah, really, we do feel that there was a bit of a legacy for the industry. That's a picture of one of our project managers making his Rivita and smashed avocado for lunch. We built up a bit of a relationship with Landscape Queensland, who are running a workplace wellness program of their own at the time as well. So we were sharing their information about quit smoking seminars, mental health seminars and they promoted our campaign in their newsletter as well.

I guess what have we learnt from it and what are the implications for the Dig Deep 2016? Timing wise, we did see participation drop off a little bit; I think because we held it in May/June, which was the end of the financial year. I think everybody was just very time precious. So we're holding it a bit later this year. Financially, this definitely looked like a success for us. If we were to invest the same budget again this year, I think we would probably want to keep the challenge a bit smaller, in terms of the number of organisations that participates. But then invest a bit more in actually building more of the health and wellbeing information and maybe doing some cooking classes or some guest speakers, yoga sessions, things like that. Just really trying to get people's buy in a bit more into that.

We'll shortly be conducting a survey from the people that participated last year to find out what they thought; what their feedback is [and] ideas for this year as well. So looking forward to seeing what we find out there.

Lastly, as I say, we kind of didn't expect to see the benefits that we did from the health and wellbeing perspectives. So it's really made us consider reviewing our own policies and procedures within the company and implementing our own wellness program on an ongoing basis, as opposed to just a timely campaign. So these are just some of the ideas that we're either doing at the moment or will be doing. Regular e-bulletins, toolbox talks. We run a bi-monthly staff newsletter, so having some health and wellbeing features in there. Currently in talks with Steve Nutall, our trainer, about just doing regular fitness sessions open to everybody; our site staff as well as our office staff. Healthy catering for internal events and encouraging team participation in external events in Brisbane as well. So for example, we did the Bridge to Brisbane last year.

So that's essentially it. Stay tuned for Dig Deep 2016.

Bell Leahy:

Hello everyone. My name is Bell and I'm here to bring home the rest of the session. Fabulous introduction. Alison has all the exciting bells and whistles. But stay tuned; I've got resources that will help you get to the level of the program that Alison's just talked about.

Okay, so I'm sure you've probably seen these things that we've talked about so far. We talked about the SNAPO risk factors. So smoking, poor nutrition, too much alcohol, not enough physical activity, obesity and poor mental health. These things, I guess, are the lynchpins of poor health for chronic disease. So chronic disease are your things like your Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease; stuff that you have to manage for a long time. It's not something that you have short term.

I understand many of you who might be in health and safety roles – your critical, critical responsibility is to make sure that people don't get killed or maimed on the job. I completely understand that. However, if you do not address these things, people will leave your workforce early. They are at increased risk of having injuries and incidents. So there's a short term gain – so we heard from Liz earlier, talking about that short term. Alertness, concentration; how that might influence your productivity. Then we look at the long term. So the likelihood of developing diseases from these risk factors.

So as Di mentioned, unfortunately, us as Australians are generally not the most tip top, healthy people. Most of us already have several of these risk factors. In construction, it's significantly higher in mental health, alcohol and also obesity. Isn't that a fun and joyous story?

But it's really important, I think, when we talk about the productivity links to just understand just what a role that plays. So if we look at these stats – and these are all available on the front of this snazzy tool which I passed around. So you can see if we're just looking at smoking alone – just smoking; 38% higher risk of injury. So even if a handful of smokers on your site stop smoking, that is a massive improvement to your business' bottom line, potentially.

If we look at overweight and obesity – and there was some great new research done. So I think, traditionally, GPs, safety advisors, anywhere within the wellbeing sector; we used to always think that being 20kg overweight was the equivalent of carrying around 20kg of concrete. However, fat is a metabolically active substance. It directly contributes to inflammation. If we're looking at that inflammation, your risk of developing disease – it is dramatically increased. Okay? It's not an inert substance. We want to make sure we're addressing obesity and overweight. I'm not sure if any of you also sat in on the presentation earlier by Dr Rebecca Loudoun. Unfortunately, obesity levels were very high at those particular sites and also, because it's self report data, it is thought to be significantly higher again.

So how that affects your business? As I said, increased likelihood of injury. Even if you're looking at the number of work days away if someone is injured; it's essentially double. Three-point-three days to 7.3 days. As you can see, looking at this long term productivity scape; 9.3 days as opposed to 3.7 days if people have got two or more chronic illnesses.

So some tools now to understand how we can better those factors. I'm going to talk a couple of resources. To be honest, I could talk a day about lots of resources that are available. I am very passionate in this sector. However, I've just streamlined it to three. Even though this session is entitled small business, it really is applicable, some benefits, to medium and large businesses as well. I'll talk about some of the tools which might be more applicable to small businesses and the different sizes as we go along. So I've also kindly asked Alison to review these tools. So she can talk about her real world experience in using these and how they might be helpful to her business.

So if we get things kicked off with the OSBT – organisational systems benchmarking tool. Okay, it's a little bit of a mouthful. However, it's a really great tool which has been recently reviewed. One of the key messages we talk about is integration. We don't want to be doing things in silos. The beauty about this tool is that it has three components which you can do all the once. Okay? The three components I'm talking about is health and wellbeing, your return to work and workers' compensation and also your health and safety. So this tool is free to use, completely confidential. If you decide to do all three – you don't have to. You can do any one or combination. You might choose two. You might do all three. Basically, if you choose to do all three, it will take you about half an hour to do.

It really is a great example of not only how you might be integrating all these systems in your business, how you might be performing in any of these business; but it benchmarks you. Your business compared to other businesses of a similar size in the same industry. Very valuable to know where you sit in the scheme of things. So at the conclusion of filling this out, you do get a report. So it will tell you, in all of those areas, how you're performing. In addition to that, if you find that in one area you might need to spend more attention, it will direct you to the relevant resources to help you improve that particular area. To access it, just as a hot tip, I would highly recommend you just search – go to the Work Safe page and just search organisational systems benchmarking tool. It's a little bit easier than trying to follow the direct links to get there.

Okay, so Alison, you very kindly helped out in being a bit of a guinea pig. What was your experience in using the tool?

Alison Holyoake:

Yep. So we actually completed all three sections separately, by different members of our team who were the most appropriate people to complete those. So we have a national safety advisor, Nigel, who completed the health and safety. Our HR manager, Karen, completed the return to work. I completed the health and wellbeing section. I think it was great to get that kind of holistic perspective of all three areas. It was pretty easy to do. It didn't take very long. There's some really useful – the questions themselves are quite open and then they provide examples within [long pause] – of like real business examples to help you associate that with your business and answer.

So for us, it was – in terms of actually implementing the results, it definitely highlighted the areas that we need to improve. It was good to see – to kind of reinforce the areas that we're doing well in, as well. So we did particularly well in the return to work. Not so well in the health and wellbeing. Which is something that, now, since learning all of this, we're addressing and doing more with. So yeah, it was definitely a beneficial exercise. I'd recommend it.

I'd probably say that you get the most benefit out of it from answering truthfully. I think it's probably quite tempting to not want to score badly. So you kind of want to be the best when it comes out. But I think you're going to get the most benefit from answering it honestly and seeing which areas you really do need to improve in. So that's my review.

Bell Leahy:

Thanks Alison. Five out of five stars. That's what I heard. Okay, so thank you very much for showing me that. I guess just as a tool to use; obviously it gives you a great snapshot at a point in time. If you want to see how you're tracking in six months', 12 months' time; a lot of these things are long term which you're addressing, which might not be instantly improved overnight. So it's a really valuable thing to revisit.

Okay, next resource. So I guess just before I move on, this is really appropriate to any business. I guess with a bit of a grain of salt if you are a small business; it might be more comprehensive in some areas. However, certainly for medium and large organisations, this is a great tool to be used as well.

So moving into more of a small business directed resources. Some of you – I hopefully got around to most of you. There is an updated resource we have, and I have a bunch of them at the front here if I didn't manage to grab you on the way through. So what this is is essentially a brief summary in terms of what you can do as a small business to help address you health and wellbeing. So essentially, it was designed to complement another program, the Serious About Safety small business program. Which if any of you have been exposed to; this another, I guess, subdivision of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland where there's a bunch of resources available to help small businesses. So this is both through workshops as also one-on-one advisory service with the small business advisers. So I'd encourage you to check that out if you haven't already taken advantage of that.

It is designed to fit into that – so I guess a simplified version of one of our other resources which we advocate for. It has five steps. So you can see management commitment – and that's a really common theme that has been explored time and time again in all of our presentations this morning. Which is really great and, I think, intuitively, we all know it. If we don't have management on board, things do fall over. It's not just getting management commitment at the start. You need to continually make sure that you've got management commitment. They're on the journey with you. Okay? They understand the benefits. They will continue to provide support. I'm talking about in kind support. I'm talking about dollars. Whatever support is available from your management team.

Consultation. Yeah! We all love to consult with our workers! [Long pause] none of us likes change which is forced upon us which we have no input on. The same applies for your workers. Okay, Alison's example of doing physical activity sessions at Kangaroo Point. That would not have worked if people didn't want to do it at Kangaroo Point on particular days of the week. You know, really simple stuff in how to consult with your workers. What do they want to see? How can you help them to get that or to make that happen?

Understanding and responding to workers' health risks. So I talked about those chronic disease risk factors. Making it relevant to your workforce. Of course, just because the team wants lots of great, healthy lunches or great, healthy fundraisers, it doesn't mean it's the only option. You've got to make sure you're prioritising it and make sure that your activities and strategies reflect those priorities.

Education and training. I really like using the analogy of a driver's licence. So when we're driving, supposedly we've all got a licence. That's why we all know the road rules. When it comes to health, there is not an acceptable licence we all have. Everyone has got a different interpretation of what health actually means. So it's really important that you make all of your programs bring up the knowledge and awareness to your whole program. So this is, I guess, [long pause] – you know, whether it's making sure that you're following national guidelines – it's not sort of these smaller, short term fads. Just making sure you stick to evidence base that's out there. Again, there's a whole bunch of resources on our website which really reflect that evidence based best practice.

Reporting and evaluation. So I talked about getting management commitment earlier. If you cannot report the benefits, if you cannot show the benefits to your management team, they will not support it. It's as simple as that. Okay, health and wellbeing historically has got a bit of a bad rap for being a nice to have. A bit of a warm and fuzzy thing. Okay? It's much more beyond that. It makes business sense. If you are not managing health and wellbeing, you are leaving your company at risk.

So this is a very easy, tick, flick exercise. I encourage you to actually do this after this session. In your lunchbreak. There you go; homework for you all. All right. I will be checking. Just kidding.

Okay, so moving onto one of our other tools here. This is the work health planning guide. So this is more applicable to your medium and large sized businesses. You'll note that there's quite a few similar steps. Okay? So we're talking about management commitment. What some organisations have done is really gone [to] the next level in that management commitment. They've incorporated KPIs. Which I think is just awesome. I think, historically, health and safety might have KPIs around safety visits and that sort of thing. I really like the idea that senior managers have to hit a certain percentage or participation of their workforce in health and wellbeing initiatives. Because they will be the people that's going out talking to toolboxes, making sure that people are signing up.

Sorry, I didn't actually ask for your input for the small business tool [laughter]. I just realised. I might just quickly ask Alison what she thought of this. So [laughter] Alison – and I appreciate I asked her to do this after the Dig Deep challenge. But I guess looking at these steps; do you see how these steps really played a role in the success in your program?

Alison Holyoake:

Yeah, 100%. I think that management buy in is really essential. Sometimes, it's not just a case of – for us, our management team – they understand the benefits of health and wellbeing and they're enthusiastic about it. But it does come down to time and money as well. So going through the processes and trying to prove to them those benefits of it, I think, has to be the starting point. So yeah, the checklist is definitely the best starting point for me now, taking other things forward. So yeah.

Bell Leahy:

Again, this is just like a simplified version of the organisational systems benchmarking tool. So OSBT has about 12 questions per section. You can see this has only got about three per section.

Okay, so work health planning guide. As I said, this is designed primarily for medium to large organisations. Management commitment can look – in terms of time, money. I mentioned KPIs. It can be a whole raft of different commitments. In kind support even. Oh, sounds like there's a bit of a deluge out there.

Wellness planning. So this is basically the people to help you get the job done. We all know many hands make light work. Don't be the hero that tries to do everything in health and wellbeing. Spread the load. Start up a committee. If you've already got existing committees for health and safety, see if you can incorporate a wellbeing element to that. We talk a lot about champions. This can mean different things for different organisations. I always like to encourage people to choose the influencers. Every team has got their tough nuts who you really need to get on board. If they're not on board, it's not going to happen. We also need to make sure that we've got people who have the time, the energy to be able to assist you. So making sure you've got that team together to help roll things out – because the last thing, I guess – you know, as passionate as you are, you don't want to roll something out that's really ad hoc, that's not really addressing the needs and is not going to be effective long term. So it's better to spend more time at the start getting that correct, right plan together and getting those right people on board to help you get there.

So needs assessment. I spoke about that earlier. There's a number of tools on our website. We have the healthy people survey. So basically this is a free, confidential survey in terms of assessing the needs of your workplace. I know that Alison spoke earlier in her presentation that that's one of the things that they want to do going forward, is look at the needs of their workforce. Also healthy places. Of course, the design of our workplace has a huge role in terms of our health behaviours.

Action plan. So actually doing the strategies themselves and evaluation. So evaluation – you know, this isn't just bums on seats. We don't just want to know the participation rates. We want to know what the employees got out of it. Looking at the long term indicators. Looking at breaking down that productivity. What were the injury rates? What is absenteeism? What is the turnover in your organisation? How can health and wellbeing influence all of these factors?

So I don't want to deliver false promises in what you can achieve. I think it's important to be realistic in what you can achieve in given timeframes. So pretty much in the short term, in a few months, employee engagement is improved, more cohesiveness and improved morale. Would you say that that's in line with the timeframes for your program?

Alison Holyoake:

Yeah. Yep, 100%. Yep.

Bell Leahy:

You can see from Alison's presentation that was around conversations in the lunchroom and that sort of thing. Like a complete change in morale. Medium term? Let's say improved health knowledge and improved company image and reputation. Again, that was something that was improved for you even prior to that one to two year time period.

Alison Holyoake:


Bell Leahy:

Which helped you gain further business. Then long term, we're looking at those really significant business improvements such as reduced injury rates and reduced workers' compensation.

There are a number of low cost and no cost resources available. We do have a resource sheet available on our website which talks about these. A couple that I'll just draw your attention to. Given we do work in construction; there is a workplace quit smoking program which is completely free. What you get with that is access to the Quitline and also two nicotine replacement therapies. So your patches, gum, lozenges. Which is available through Queensland Health. So you can find that through the Healthier Happier Workplaces website.

Another thing which won't cost you a cent is promoting the do you want to get healthy service. What this is is, basically, if you sign up to it, you get ten calls over six months with a health coach. In terms of results from that? Significant improvements in health around waist circumference reductions, improved health behaviours. So even though that's sort of, I guess, not a formal workplace program similar to the one that you mentioned, Alison; it still has great behaviour changes at the individual level. Again, doesn't cost you anything. It's available to everyone in Queensland.

So there are a number of other low cost, no cost resources. I guess if you're wanting anything in particular, I did have to try and sort of cover off a few resources today. Feel free to contact me and talk to me after the event. Otherwise, there are plenty of great resources online at I encourage you to check out the Healthier Happier Workplaces website as well. If you did want to contact me for anything in particular, feel free to come and chat to me afterwards or the healthy workers email is just there as well.

All right, well thank you very much everyone for listening.

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