Case Study: YouthTown

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They’re donating blood, learning new skills and giving back to the community all in the name of workplace wellbeing.

Youthtown has been delivering programmes, that develop skills and knowledge, to as many 5 to 18 year olds in New Zealand as possible, since 1932.

Their vision is to empower young New Zealanders to be the best they can be and they incorporate four values (Belonging, Independence, Generosity and Mastery) into all the activities they do.

Among the Christchurch team is Regional Administrator Kylie Phaup-Stephens. Her enthusiasm for her job is no secret.

Her eyes twinkle when she talks about coming to work and the philosophy behind everything they do.

Phaup-Stephens has been in the role of Youthtown Regional Administrator for the last two years.

She is also the Christchurch organisation’s ME HE TE Ambassador. It’s a newly-created role, that has Phaup-Stephens encouraging her colleagues to participate in workplace wellbeing for the not-for-profit.

So what does wellbeing mean to Phaup-Stephens?

“Being healthy, happy and content,” she says.

Phaup-Stephens is one of a number of ambassadors representing each region of New Zealand, who come up with new challenges every month as part of the ME HE TE Programme. The aim is to get staff members moving, giving or thinking.

“If we give blood, we get points. If we go for walking meetings, we get points. Plant a tree, we get points, things like that.”

A nationwide scoreboard is kept and prizes include scoring time off work, bluetooth headphones or a swiss ball.

“They try to make it really achievable.”

The programme was introduced this time last year, and has been particularly beneficial to the Christchurch-based team.

“The rest of the country probably thinks we’re still ok but it still affects us a lot. Here in Christchurch, we do really try to push that mental wellbeing as well. Youthtown has a really awesome employee support too, so we can reach out for help if we need.”

“This is a very happy workplace. I feel very lucky, actually. I feel that they are an employer that really cares about us. I like that they promote wellbeing.”

Phaup-Stephens says their work can be physically and emotionally exhausting, which is why it is so important to emphasise workplace wellbeing.

“It’s fun and crazy, never a single day the same. I never know what I’m walking into. There are so many variables when it comes to youth. We’re dealing with five to 18 year-olds here too.”

The benefits extend beyond the workplace, with staff very social outside of their nine to five hours. They go paddle boarding together and also have a social touch team running.

In their latest ME HE TE challenge, staff will have to provide evidence that they’re exerting some physical energy outside of work.

Getting involved in a “gnarly” sport, recording how far they’ve run, or how sweaty they’ve got could put them on the leaderboard. 

Prior to Christmas, staff put together parcels for the women’s refuge and shoe boxes full of goodies for children in need.

Challenges have also included picking up rubbish during Keep New Zealand Beautiful, guessing the gender pay gap within the company and getting a subsidised massage.

During the “lunchtime treat” personal trainer and massage therapist Josh Dowdle worked his magic with staff in fifteen minute blocks.

“The massage, that was something different,” says Phaup-Stephens.

The idea came to her, as it was something her previous workplace offered.

Staff paid just $5 for the massage, while the organisation covered the remaining cost.

“It was a nice break out of their day. It was really really worthwhile.”

It’s a reward Phaup-Stephens prefers to serving up workplace drinks.

“People came out of it thinking ‘wow, that was fantastic’,” says Phaup-Stephens.

For Dowdle, workplace wellbeing is an area he too is passionate about.

“My biggest passion in the health and fitness industry is improving people’s quality of life. People spend majority of their week at work. That’s a lot of time. Being accessible to workplaces is a good way to make change with people and help them improve their quality of life.”

Kylie’s advice to employers on workplace wellbeing:

  • Get everyone involved and get their input.
  • If many challenges, make them achievable and fun