Associate Professor Bevan Catley, Massey University

Bevan Catley

Q: Why do you think wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment?

A growing recognition and evidence base indicating the role of unhealthy work in producing physical and psychosocial harm for individuals along with poor organisational outcomes that has created a demand for effective solutions.

Q: What is one wellbeing practice you’d like to see all New Zealand businesses adopt?

We would argue for a systems perspective and caution against reducing an organisational response to a single initiative introduced in isolation.

Q: Do you think we’re making progress with wellbeing in the workplace in New Zealand – or have we still got a long way to go?

Possibly. The evidence suggests that we have a way to go but we will not be able to chart our progress unless we have a robust body of evidence to track the effectiveness of initiatives. In part, that is why we developed the NZ Workplace Barometer project.

Chris Jones, General Manager Safety & Wellbeing, Department of Corrections

Q: Why do you think wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment?

Chris Jones

Growing recognition of the importance of both physical and mental wellbeing on a person’s performance, engagement and satisfaction seems, as well as an increasing social awareness (particularly at the executive level) of the impact that work and workplaces can have on a worker’s wellbeing.

Q: What is one wellbeing practice you’d like to see all New Zealand businesses adopt?

Building the capability of line managers so that they understand what drives wellbeing in their teams, are aware of tangible actions they can take to address it and are confident/comfortable to have discussions about it with team members.

Q: Do you think we’re making progress with wellbeing in the workplace in New Zealand – or have we still got a long way to go?

I think that awareness is getting better, particularly at the executive leadership level, but that it is still often seen as an additional ‘thing’ that the business should do – rather than seeing wellbeing as the outcome of how the organisation operates.

Alastair Duncan, Industry leader, E tū

Q: Why do you think wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment?

Alastair Duncan

New Zealanders have long claimed to deliver a “fair deal” at work. It’s a self-sustained mythology that isn’t borne out by the last 30 years of deregulation.  The interest in “wellbeing” – perhaps driven by technology is further evidence that health and workplace rights go hand in hand.

Q: What is one wellbeing practice you’d like to see all New Zealand businesses adopt?

With a statutory minimum of just five days sick leave, a practical step would be to lift sick leave.  A second step would be to commit to the Living Wage.

Q: Do you think we’re making progress with wellbeing in the workplace in New Zealand – or have we still got a long way to go?

Both. We have started a conversation but it has a long, long way to go.

Alex Beattie, Social media and wellbeing researcher, Victoria University of Wellington

Alex Beattie

Q: Why do you think wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment?

We live in a time of unprecedented connectivity and distraction. Thanks to laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices, we can take our work and social media with us everywhere we go. On one hand, such technological-enabled mobility provides us with work flexibility, but on the other hand we can never stop working. The boundaries that once clearly separated work and home are blurred and this has a significant impact on wellbeing and productivity.

Q: What is one wellbeing practice you’d like to see all New Zealand businesses adopt?

I would like to see all New Zealand business adopt ‘a right to disconnect’ as a wellbeing policy. A right to disconnect would entail businesses to negotiate with employees a written policy about the appropriate use of digital devices and other digital communications outside of normal working hours. The purpose of such a policy is to establish clearer boundaries between work and home and ensure any employee who does not respond to a work-related communication outside of normal working hours is not subjected to disciplinary action. In 2016, the Nelson City Council implemented a version of the right to disconnect, the policy is enshrined in law in France, and currently being debated in places such as New York, the Philippines and India.

Q: Do you think we’re making progress with wellbeing in the workplace in New Zealand – or have we still got a long way to go?

I can only speak as a scholar who hasn’t been in the workplace for two years. Whilst business initiatives such as social groups and volunteer days are beneficial to team building and collective wellbeing in the workplace, we are still coming to terms with how to handle the presence of social media. With millennials making up more of the workforce cohort, and the next generation of digital natives just around the corner, it is critical that employers develop best practice understandings of the benefits and harms of ubiquitous connectivity at work.

Terry Buckingham, Health & Wellbeing Manager, Fonterra

Q: Why do you think wellbeing is such a hot topic at the moment?

I think there is a growing awareness of the link between our health and our work and the importance of good health to be effective in our work.  Mind Health (mental health) is an important part of our wellbeing and there is recognition now in business that we bring our “whole selves” to our work.  We have seen the effects of poor mental health outcomes in our communities and our workplaces are extensions of our community.  Often we see the lack of good mental health services and support impact on our working age population and poor mental health management affecting us in our workplaces.  Good news is that Workplaces are now realising the importance and benefits of good Mind Health and work and are actively taking part in solutions alongside Govt.

Q: What is one wellbeing practice you’d like to see all New Zealand businesses adopt?

Awareness and Mental Health Literacy is still in its infancy in NZ.  We still have some ways to go to educate and lift our Mental Health literacy and Campaigns/Training to help educate our Workplaces/Staff will go a long way.

Q: Do you think we’re making progress with wellbeing in the workplace in New Zealand – or have we still got a long way to go?

We are making good progress in big business and we see some good examples.  I am still concerned that SME’s may need better support and options that are reasonable and practical to deliver and sustain.

Wellbeing in the Workplace is the next topic to come under scrutiny in Health Central’s popular ChalkTalks panel discussion series. See full details and ticketing information here.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here