Healthy workplaces program highlights Hudson Institute

In a first of its kind achievement, Hudson Institute has received Victorian Government recognition under its healthy workplaces program.

Penny Whiley and Ellen Menkhorst taking part in 2019 Run Melbourne
L-R: Penny Whiley and Ellen Menkhorst taking part in 2019 Run Melbourne

The Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program centres around five health areas including healthy eating, physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, smoking, and alcohol and other drugs. Each health area has a set of targets for workplaces to achieve accreditation, which results in widespread healthy changes.

Hudson Institute HR Advisor Belinda Pelle said the Institute joined the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program in 2018 to embed its commitment to workplace health and wellbeing.

“We’ve always had a great wellbeing culture and we believed the Achievement Program was a great option to build on our work. It also demonstrated our dedication to supporting the health and wellbeing of our employees,” Ms Pelle said.

The path to improved workplace health and wellbeing includes new policies outlining the Institute’s commitment to the cause, including healthy catering options, mental health and wellbeing support services, and promoting movement throughout the working day.

COVID-19 prompted more healthy workplaces initiatives

The Institute’s Culture and Engagement Committee rallied to introduce new wellbeing initiatives during the challenging coronavirus (COVID-19) period.

“We knew our staff would be uniquely impacted by the pandemic and we wanted to do everything we could to support their health and wellbeing,” Dr Simon Chu, Culture and Engagement Committee Chair said.

'HISS and Her's' netball team
‘HISS and Her’s’ netball team

“To strengthen support, we increased our communications with staff and students. This included regular emails from the HR team on important announcements, support services and resources, and sharing relevant, trusted news articles and wellbeing tips in our weekly newsletter to staff,” he said.

Ms Pelle said staff were also encouraged to practice healthy lifestyles. “One way we supported this was through a physical activity challenge. We created a workplace team on the physical activity app Strava, where staff could record and engage with each other’s activities such as walking, running or cycling,” she said.

The Committee also developed a challenge program with an activity for each week of the Melbourne lockdown. This included a Masterchef challenge and a Hudson’s Got Talent online activity.

Healthy workplaces was a priority before the pandemic

Before the pandemic, Hudson Institute participated in many engaging initiatives providing a great opportunity to connect with others from across the organisation and be part of community activities.

“Each year more than 100 staff participate in Run Melbourne. It creates a buzz around the office leading up to the event and an opportunity to fundraise and support the medical research we all believe in,” Ms Pelle said.

On-site, Hudson Institute promotes active transport and physical activity during the day by providing shower and change rooms facilities. Staff also enjoy seasonal fruit box deliveries and healthy morning teas to mark special health awareness days such as R U Ok? Day. The Institute also supports a student netball team led by a very active Hudson Institute Student Society (HISS).

Professor Elizabeth Hartland ties her shoe laces as she's sitting on treadmill
Prof Elizabeth Hartland supports Achievement Program

Hudson Institute Director, Professor Elizabeth Hartland said the Healthy Workplaces Achievement Program has been an enriching and rewarding experience that has delivered many positive impacts.

“Everyone has loved the opportunity to practise healthy lifestyles. We’ve seen shift in our employees’ health awareness, and been appreciative of the healthy options now catered for at our regular scientific seminars and other events. Anecdotally, staff have felt more supported by each other and are having more open conversations about their own mental health,” Prof Hartland said.

Hudson Institute will keep prioritising workplace health and wellbeing and is steaming ahead with new initiatives including Mental Health First Aid training for staff and the establishment of Mental Health First Aid stations in each tearoom.

Read the Victorian Government article here

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