You might have read about St Luke’s Hospital’s Health and Wellness Committee when they were announced as one of the winners for Singapore Health Quality Service Awards this year.
The committee was set up to ensure the well-being for staff, so that the staff can, in turn, be in a good position to care for the clients. But they have another goal: to increase joy at work for staff.
The committee comprises 21 staff from various departments, including frontline staff such as nursing, rehabilitation, social work, and support functions such as operations and human resource. “This is so that there is a good mix of staff from multiple disciplines, forming a robust team. It is a staff-led initiative driven by a team who are passionate about helping fellow colleagues stay healthy and well,” a spokesperson from the committee said.
mosAIC speaks to Su Anqi, the Chairman of Health and Wellness Committee in 2021, to find out more about this initiative from the Committee.
How often do you engage employees?
We organise activities every month targeting both physical and mental wellness. We also see these activities as a platform to foster bonds and build an informal support system among staff.
How do you decide what kind of workshops to conduct?
We run a range of workshops and initiatives that target different aspects of health – physical and mental. The types of activities also vary such as physical outings, talks, workshops, exercises classes, giving healthy snacks and educational materials. The purpose is to provide a holistic suite of activities that cater to different staff.
In addition, we conduct an annual health screening for staff, where an overall corporate report is also generated and shared with the committee. Based on the report, we will organise relevant interventions. On top of this, we run an annual survey to gather feedback from staff on our activities, and suggestions on new activities. For well-received programmes, we will try to organise repeat sessions.
How many workshops have you done to date?
We hold about one to two workshops per month. The number of attendees can range from more than 10 to over 50 for each workshop. Besides workshops, there are other activities such as challenges, exercise videos, giving healthy snacks and educational materials.
You’ve come up with a lot of initiatives. Which has been the most successful, and which are you proudest of?
The initiatives that we feel are most successful are Me 2.0 Challenge and Dear Diary. Me 2.0 Challenge is a competition for staff to make tangible improvements in their health through monitoring and recording their habits for sleep, diet and physical exercise, and supporting one another through videos, words of encouragement and photos in a group chat.
Dear Diary is an innovative and easy way for staff to access a virtual platform to voice their concerns and receive help where needed. This is especially crucial during the pandemic.
Another initiative that we are proud of is the Healthy Cooking Competition. Staff submit their own healthy recipes together with a sample of the dish, which are judged by a panel of staff, including our dietitian. These recipes were also compiled into a cookbook and given to staff, volunteers and patients to encourage more to participate in healthy cooking. A few recipes were presented through cooking videos so that people could watch and follow the steps easily.
Tell us more about the Dear Diary initiative.
During COVID-19, the staff were facing increasing stress levels from coping with the pandemic. Observing the situation, our committee advisor, Shu Han, initiated the idea of creating an "agony aunt" platform. Dear Diary was thus developed as a space for staff to share their concerns (with the option of remaining anonymous), receive acknowledgement and be linked up with a professional if they requested to.
Through Dear Diary, we have received valuable feedback and genuine concerns, which may have otherwise not surfaced without this platform.
To reinforce Dear Diary through active support for staff well-being, we also send encouragement and advice on mental health through email.
What are some of the challenges you face while planning these activities/initiatives?
During COVID-19, physical activities were suspended and our staff were also placed in different zones to prevent cross-infection. However, it was also during the pandemic where health and wellness initiatives were greatly needed as pressures from the pandemic rose. We came together to brainstorm on the critical needs and support for our staff, which may be different from our regular activities. One of the ideas birthed out of the discussion was Dear Diary, where we provided an easily accessible outlet for staff to share their anxieties and stress, and receive help if they were open to it.
What is your advice for other organisations who want to create a similar club?
Organisations should give space and opportunities for staff to kickstart health and wellness initiatives. A ground-up approach with strong support from the management provides a good base for initiatives to kickoff. Being open to changes and taking calculated risks (e.g. trying out new ideas) are also part of the process.
Identifying staff with passion in this area and giving them the chance to fuel their passion will help to motivate the committee and they can be good encouragers for staff to keep them going in the health and wellness journey.
The team should also be made up of staff of different gender, age, professions and background for a better mix of perspectives and synergy.
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