We were very fortunate to be hosted at the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich University for our fourth risk director’s forum, courtesy of Dr. Shaun Lundy, Academic Portfolio Leader Occupational Safety, Health, Hygiene & Environment Programmes.
The group brings together director reporting level health, safety and risk management professionals from a range of organisations across the UK. The purpose of the group is to share good practice in health and safety and to offer an independent forum for networking and socialising.
The subject for our forum was “Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace”. We had great guest speakers from Via Vita Health, GE and Greenwich University. The group was supported with attendees coming from a range of industry backgrounds, including; Heathrow airport, Greenwich University, GE, CHUBB Insurance, Pearson PLC, Arcadia Group and G’s Fresh.
Peter Tayar-Watson from GE gave a presentation on GE’s global programme for health and wellbeing (HealthAhead). It’s a really inclusive programme, with a range of approaches for all sites, including some of their smallest locations. Things have clearly moved on from just offering a few apples in the canteen, with nutritionists being engaged to plan balanced and healthy meals, with the occasional ‘treats’ still available. What was clear from Peter’s presentation was that at GE, the health and wellbeing programme is part of their strategic objectives. GE clearly recognise that a healthy workforce is more likely to be happy, present and more fit for the task.
Dr Shaun Lundy from Greenwich University discussed the proposed programme for professional doctorates from the University, currently under development. A programme aimed at engaging practicing professionals, with different routes depending on academic and professional background. Dr Lundy explained the differences between the specific technical aspects of typical health and safety certificate and diploma level qualifications, and the shift to more critical thinking and benefit to and informing practice when moving from a Masters and Doctorate level qualification. We are certain that professionals engaged in a career in health and safety will feel very positive about this type of doctorate programme and the opportunity to study to put something back into the industry.
After a healthy lunch kindly provided by Greenwich University, we heard from Caroline Sidell and Giverny Porter from Via Vita Health Ltd, who are experts in the analysis, consultation and development of health and wellbeing programmes for a range of global and national companies. Caroline and Giverny started with explaining how important it is to evaluate the current status in an organisation and to ensure that there is top level agreement and engagement in health and wellbeing as a core value in a business. Great case study examples were shared which demonstrated that, with a well designed programme and employee engagement, significant savings can be made due to lower absence rates, better concentration levels and talent retention. The use of a range of marketing and communication channels were shown, in particular Via Vita phone Apps, such as wellbeing zones that employees can access and online content.
Considering both the GE and Via Vita Health Ltd presentations, the key messages of value for any health and wellbeing programme included:
- Having top down engagement and genuine commitment.
- Completing an initial analysis and evaluation to ensure that you know what the current status is.
- Setting clear and achievable goals, with employee and management groups.
- Taking a long term view and not trying to achieve too much too soon.
- Having measures in place and celebrating success.
- Making the best use of current technology.
As the session came to a close we took time out to visit the Painted Hall at the Old Naval College. The structure and time spent restoring and maintaining the building is admirable (excuse the pun). Some of us that didn’t have to rush off also took time to visit and ‘test’ some of the beer on offer at the Meantime Brewing Company, outside taking in the glorious day. This did lead to a bit of a sprint at Euston station, but we won’t dwell on that!