Policy into action – Latrobe employer creates healthier workplace culture

Policy into action – Latrobe employer creates healthier workplace culture

Responding to increasing rates of chronic physical and mental illness within the Latrobe Valley, Australian Paper recognised that, as a big employer in the region, they not only had the opportunity but also a responsibility to provide better opportunities for their employees to improve their health.

In 2019 Australian Paper launched ThriveAP – a program incorporating a number of health and wellness initiatives for Australian Paper workers. The decision to invest in workplace health and wellbeing was reinforced by an employee demographic and statewide health benchmark analysis, indicating that many Australian Paper employees were experiencing poorer health outcomes in comparison to people living in other regions of Victoria.

Overwhelming evidence indicates that with improved health comes increased productivity, improved morale, reduced absenteeism and improved employee retention, with workplaces potentially saving $5.81 for every $1 invested in employee health and wellbeing. In 2018, in response to an absence of a broad commitment or priority to health and wellness, the Australian Paper Workplace Health and Wellbeing Action Plan was developed. This acknowledged organisational responsibility to address workplace culture, day to day practices, access to health initiatives and the creation of an environment that supports and encourages healthy choices every single day.

The Action Plan is comprehensive, and covers all five health priority areas of the Victorian State Government recognised Achievement Program; healthy eating, physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, alcohol and other drugs, and smoking. It also references existing workplace policies and successful benchmark achievements on smoking and alcohol and other drugs in recent years.

ThriveAP activities showcase Australian Paper’s commitment to a healthy and effective workforce – not only at their Maryvale (Latrobe Valley) site, but in fact contributing to better health opportunities for workers nationally at various sites around Australia.

Nancy Lebbe, Australian Paper’s National Wellness and Rehabilitation Coordinator confirms this, saying, “We aim to provide an environment that promotes and nurtures the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of all employees and their families. Health and wellbeing play a very important role in the overall health of the business, and in turn the ‘flow on’ effects of a healthy lifestyle in the workplace contribute exponentially to business growth. Through mental health awareness and physical fitness strategies at Australian Paper we’ve seen improvements in energy levels, mental focus, self-esteem/confidence, team spirit and sense of achievement amongst workers”.

Time and financial constraints aside, the health and wellbeing committee at Australian Paper maintained a needs-led approach to engage their employees, managers and directors in the process of developing the strategic action plan. Australian Paper was supported by the health promotion team at Latrobe Community Health Service to create a policy that sits within the Victorian Government’s Achievement Program framework. In addition, partnering with Assure, the Australian Paper Workplace Health and Wellbeing Action Plan was central in identifying the need, and subsequent implementation of, a nationwide Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This EAP was rolled out in five Australian states and is supporting the mental health and wellbeing of more than 1200 employees and their families.

Want to support the health and wellbeing of your workers? Register with the Achievement Program today.

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