Looking out for people key driver of productivity

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Tools and techniques for Canterbury businesses around workplace wellness are helping them to support their biggest asset - their people.

Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) chief executive Leeann Watson says strong businesses build strong communities.

“So we’ve always really believed in businesses making sure that they look after their people, which in turn then provides a really good, healthy community.”

“Without stating the obvious, we all know that Cantabrians in particular have been through some massive changes and challenges in the last seven years and that has raised the awareness of things like mental health in the workplace and the impact that can have on people across all walks of life.”

Watson said it was important for organisations to acknowledge the ongoing and complex effects of the last seven years on individuals, when setting up wellbeing programmes in the workplace.

“One of things that we’re trying to do is give businesses the tools and techniques to actually help them put resources and support in place for their people… and there is great research out there that suggests that when you do look out for your people, and you have a good supportive workplace, actually, the productivity increases and you get a better outcome.”

For Watson, having fun in the workplace is really important, as is creating a family-friendly environment.

Staff are encouraged to take time off when sickness hits, or if their child is competing in athletics day.

“And there is a balance with that and sometimes it’s a challenge to manage, but it’s really important and you generally get a much better outcome and people feel very loyal to an organisation that supports that sort of activity,” said Watson.

Among CECC members, several were already taking the charge on workplace wellness.

“We’ve got several members, who are actively involved in looking at wellness strategies and workplace wellness, it’s just part of their organisations.”

Watson said Kilmarnock Enterprises were a great example of an employer encouraging staff to think about health and wellbeing through a different lens, by putting information and resources in front of their staff.

“Canterbury Linen is another company that perhaps you wouldn’t necessarily expect, as a reasonably traditional business, but they’re also out there doing some great things with their staff and through good role modelling, which I think is important.” 

Watson said she encouraged anyone thinking about implementing workplace wellbeing initiatives, to take a step back and to think about perceptions of staff.

“Are you a good role model, in terms of the way you’re running around or leading your life. Your team will take a huge amount from the way in which you operate, so look at yourself, look at how you can be a good role model in terms of workplace wellness and just make a start.”