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Wellness programme a true ‘win-win’

Wellness programme a true ‘win-win’
G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects Health and Safety Advisor Kate Bull says its Mental Health and Wellness Programme has benefited both staff and the business

Production has increased and staff absenteeism decreased since G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects launched a Mental Health and Wellness Programme earlier this year.

The franchise has just been recognised for its efforts winning the 2019 Site Safe best health and safety initiative by a business of no more than 50 staff category at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards.

G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects Health and Safety Advisor Kate Bull says that it was when undertaking a WorkSafe SafePlus assessment last year, which included a tool where staff could have anonymous input, fatigue and work related stress were highlighted as areas for improvement.

“While we had a focus on safety we realised we also needed to focus on health,” she says. Joined by Construction Administrator Denise Batchelor, who is a passionate mental health advocate, the two began to devise a Mental Health and Wellness Programme, which was kicked off in January.

The pair say the aim is to ensure that there is a continued conversation around mental health and well-being and that the topic isn’t stigmatised in any manner. The programme includes several initiatives to improve mental health within the construction industry focusing on the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ including being active, giving, learning, connecting and taking notice.

Activities are organised under each of these principles and have so far included a healthy point’s competition with a rival office, cooking meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House Auckland, completing meditation as a team and a gumboot throwing competition organised around Mike King’s Gumboot Friday, which asked Kiwis to wear gum-boots for the day so that they could get a physical sense of what it felt like to carry the load of mental illness.

Kate says that they have had good uptake from staff with regards to the Mental Health and Wellness Programme. “It’s benefited us as a business and it benefits the staff so it’s a win-win.”

The programme has also involved subcontrac-tors and suppliers and opened up the conversation around mental health, says one of G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects directors Rachel Soakell.

“Nearly one in two New Zealanders are likely to suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. As with any health condition, the psychological health of a person can affect their output, physical well-being and day to day routine. The implementation of our programme has allowed the team to create a shared sense of purpose and stay mentally healthy,” she says.

G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects is owned by Rabo Construct Ltd which is directed by Rachel, Dougal Paterson and Jeremy Waters.

The franchise undertakes larger project developments in the Manukau and Central Auckland area. Clients include HNZ, Creating Communities, Tamaki Regeneration, iwi, churches and large developers.

Rachel says that as G.J. Gardner Homes Manukau Major Projects is front footing the issue of mental health and well-being it is able to act as the role model for others to follow suit within the construction industry. “It’s been relatively easy to set up and the pay back has been astounding.”

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