We talk with a global healthy workplace award winner

  • The Global Healthy Workplace Awards is an international Awards Program dedicated solely to the recognition of healthy practices and programs in the workplace
  • Monash University recently won an award for their wellbeing program that they believe directly contributes to an engaged, productive and healthy workforce
  • Testing with your people, offering a diverse selection of wellbeing activities as well as getting buy-in from senior leadership are key to running a successful workplace health program.

Monash University was recently awarded first place (large employer category) at the 2016 Global Healthy Workplace Awards.

We caught up with Dr Vicki Ashton, Chief Medical Officer, Occupational Physician, to see if we could uncover the secret to their success.

Q: Monash is uniquely positioned to be proactive on important public health issues through its engagement with thousands of students, staff, alumni and the wider Monash community. How do you collate information in order to influence your overall workplace health strategy?


We collaborated with key stakeholders such as Monash Sport, Counselling and Safer Community, Equity and Diversity and Environmental Sustainability, as well as all Faculties and Divisions – it is important to gain understanding of the needs from all areas of the business before we put our plan together.

To create the plan, we meet with our key stakeholders and faculties and divisions to review programs and initiatives. We also get regular feedback from our customers to establish the effectiveness of our programs. This happens on a regular basis and not only occurs through discussions, but also through surveys of our participants and an analysis of our quarterly wellbeing key performance indicator.

Q: We also believe that a healthy workplace directly contributes to an engaged, productive and healthy workforce. Since implementing your wellbeing initiatives, how have you seen evidence of this in your workplace?

With successful and consistent implementation of our initiatives, we’ve had some great results such as an increase of participants in our staff wellbeing activity program from 60 in 2010 to 1954 in 2015.


We have also implemented a wellbeing KPI which is measured through participation in our wellbeing programs. This is based on a participant completing at least one wellbeing activity per year (whether it is attendance at a pilates or yoga program or attendance at a 10,000 steps event). The wellbeing KPI is set at 30% across faculties and divisions.

This has increased from 26 – 36% over the past five years.

We’ve also seen a drop of 46% in insurance injury claims from our workforce over the past 6 years.

Q: With such a large and diverse workforce, how do you create engagement and ensure participation with your workplace health program in your organisation?

Firstly we found it imperative to get senior management commitment – without senior management involvement it can be very tough to get the program off the ground. We then created a network of wellbeing champions to ensure delivery of the program throughout the business.

Also crucial to success was removing the barriers to entry – we make it easy for people to get involved with online and physical initiatives. There is always trial and error with our program and we seek to continuously improve the offering to strengthen engagement over time.

By offering a range of options and services, we can ensure there is something that everyone can take part in be that mindfulness and meditation classes, share bikes and step challenges or dietitian consultations and cooking demonstrations.

Q: What advice would you give to another organisation?

Over the years we have learnt that when implementing any new initiative, it is important to start small and test with your people. Make sure you listen, engage, and collaborate with those who are both responsible for championing the initiative and those taking part – you may find out something you didn’t know! At the same time having visible leadership support helps to raise the profile and importance in the organisation. Our Vice Chancellor is our Wellbeing Patron and opened our 10,000 steps event this year.

Q: How has Bupa helped you realise a happier, healthier workplace?

Bupa have assisted and supported our messages for individuals making personal choices for positive health improvements. They have provided key speakers for health and wellbeing events, assisted in healthy cooking demonstrations and been innovative with tools for health assessments. Our staff benefits brochure displays a wide range of health and wellbeing programs and services including Bupa Health Insurance Cover which has been popular with staff. Providing this within the workplace is very helpful in a busy working life.


The Global Healthy Workplace Awards is an international Awards Program dedicated solely to the recognition of healthy practices and programs in the workplace.

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