Improving staff wellness at Ovation

13 October 2017

Ovation has become the first company in the region to receive WorkWell accreditation. 

Ovation company Nurse Anne Thorogood, Pla Ovation has become the first company i

Ovation Company Nurse Anne Thorogood, Plant Manager Kevin Morrell and Assistant Plant Manager Adam Goodwin

A GISBORNE meat processor is the first business in the district to receive accreditation in a national workplace wellness programme.

Ovation got on board with WorkWell, a nationwide initiative developed by Toi Te Ora Public Health Service, in May 2016. 

The initiative is aimed at changing the way businesses work to improve staff wellbeing.

The idea is that a healthy hinengaro (mind), tinana (body) and wairua (spirit) is better for the individual staff member and increases productivity for the business. 

The programme works in three accreditation stages; bronze, silver and gold, with accreditation occurring under a positive assessment process. 

Bronze is building the foundation for a sustainable WorkWell programme, silver - maintaining and strengthening the programme and gold - embedding and sustaining the programme within the company. 

Ovation got on-board with WorkWell in May 2016. Since then the WorkWell focus group - headed by Company Nurse Ann Thorogood, has been working hard to implement positive changes in the workplace. 

"A lot of the last year has been about development and changing the focus from what we thought staff wanted to what they really wanted." 

This meant circulating a questionnaire, from which three main priorities emerged; healthy eating, mental wellbeing and becoming smokefree. 

One thing Ovation did to promote healthy eating was host a free educational breakfast, complete with a range of different healthy options like cereals and yoghurts, as opposed to the all too common 'pie on the way to work', says Ann. 

They are also looking at changing their vending machines to provide healthier alternatives. 

"We are definitely talking a lot more about issues like mental health," says Ann. 

"It has always kind of been hidden before but now things are more visible and staff are talking about how they are feeling." 

Visibility has been a key factor, with posters about domestic violence and posters encouraging staff to seek help if they need it, now plastered around the business. 

"In a job like this there is an attitude of - you don't have emotions and you need to be hard. Before we were thinking, ‘that is home, when you come through the gate you are at work’. Whereas now we are more aware of the fact that things can happen at home that impacts on staff and their productivity." 

Plant Manager Kevin Morrell says looking more at staff demographics was a key part of WorkWell. 

"Our numbers fluctuate from 180 to 400 during peak season - 80 percent are Maori - so for our sports days we know it needs to be more whanau based, and that families need to feel welcome. Even pre-WorkWell we had a fantastic culture of the workplace being one big family, but we are more open now." 

Kevin says a lot of work has gone into receiving the bronze accreditation. 

"It is awesome and it will only gain more momentum over time." 

For Regional WorkWell Advisor Wanita Tuwairua-Brown, handing over the official accreditation was a satisfying moment. 

"WorkWell programmes are run by staff for staff - this means staff are in control, not health providers or services. This empowers them to support their workmates towards better overall health, instead of being told what they need to improve. 

"It felt awesome to see Ovation achieve bronze accreditation, as I know how much effort and resources have been put into this year. Now I look forward to the plan coming to life and staff benefit from the collective efforts of the organisation.”