05/08/2003 - 22:00

Working on a balanced plan

05/08/2003 - 22:00


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This week Susan Bower looks at what businesses and employees want from health and wellbeing services.

Working on a balanced plan

COMPANIES offering corporate health and wellbeing services operate in a very competitive WA industry.

“There are lots of health promotions out there and people are more involved with their health,” Aspire Fitness East Perth director Derek Knox said.

Understandably companies in the business of health are keen to tailor their offerings to what other businesses want.

The best way to attract the attention of businesses faced with plenty of choice is to know what it is particular industries and organisations are after and how they want this delivered.

Property managers, too, are appreciating the increased community awareness of health and lifestyle issues and how these relate to the workplace, with some offering fitness facilities and corporate health services to tenants.

They, too, want to know how best to attract and retain tenants with the most desired services.

Cape Bouvard, owner of several CBD buildings, is no exception, and contracted Fitcorp Nominees to survey tenant employers and their employees.

Fitcorp randomly sampled 150 workers spread across 50 CBD businesses and came up with a comprehensive list of preferences.

These ranged across low impact exercise, work management techniques and massage, through to intensive physical activity.

Fitcorp director Frank Bowyer said the company was now designing different packages with service providers to meet the varied needs.

Aspire Fitness East Perth is a service provider contracted by CB Richard Ellis and the Insurance Commission of Western Australia for the past eight years to look after the corporate health management needs of tenants of the Forrest Centre.

Mr Knox said companies such as his competed on serviceability, pricing and functionality to provide fully supervised fitness centres and services to other buildings such as Central Park and QV1.

Part of the demand for such services came from employers wanting their staff to put in more hours, and hence requiring them to be sufficiently healthy to do this.

Time efficient, active weightloss-based sessions were popular in the Forrest Centre gym, Mr Knox said.

“People can work out hard, but not have to think, and then get back to work,” he said.

Lifestyle education comes with the service, with presentations on how to be smart with fitness in the corporate world – the right frequencies and intensities, and how to enjoy keeping fit.

Also popular is the FitSmart program, which is owned by Guy Leech and other sporting identities, and for which Aspire Fitness East Perth has the WA licence, Mr Knox said.

This type of individualised online training program with in-built feedback is reportedly popular with larger organisations such as banks and Telstra.

Again, the seminars that go with this service are also popular, as is information on nutrition, which will be formally added to FitSmart this month.

Other service providers are reporting similar preferences for education and programs targeting weight loss and diet, adding a more holistic approach to the traditional ergonomic office assessments, fitness examinations and general exercise programs.

Ernst & Young WA is one of many Perth offices with an in-house employee responsible for wellness coordination.

E & Y senior manager people and culture Tony Ackland said the firm sought to offer its employees a range of services which they found meaningful, but which did not impact greatly on office time.

The philosophy behind the firm’s broad offerings to partners and employees was to provide knowledge and awareness, plus balance and support, Mr Ackland said.

“These are the keys to letting people know that work shouldn’t fundamentally strip your health,” he said.

This knowledge and support was important from a staff retention perspective, but flexible work programs were also a part of this.

The firm sponsored and supported staff in events such as the BRW Triathlon, the Rottnest Island swim and the City to Surf Fun Run, and turned such occasions into staff functions, Mr Ackland said.

E & Y has also contracted HBF to offer services such as the healthy heart program, which assesses key health measures and lunch-time seminars on the current popular topics – diet and stress management, and lifestyle balancing.

These topics and others including relationship and workplace management are also approached in a light-hearted manner in a monthly newsletter.

Late afternoon pilates and yoga classes are also offered, by other outside providers, and current limited gym memberships within the building are likely to be supplemented with corporate discount packages at a nearby gym.

Nationally, E & Y was developing a formal wellness strategy, Mr Ackland said.

“And WA is being acknowledged for how much we offer for so many at so little cost,” he said.


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