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Is your workplace health and wellbeing program in need of a check-up?

This year Jemena took out the Large Enterprise category in the fifth annual Global Healthy Workplace Awards. This is a fantastic accolade and is testament to the team who in the space of just seven years has managed to initiate, develop, and implement a now award-winning health and wellbeing program.

As an electricity and gas provider Jemena has a proud history of having high safety standards. Our ambition, and our challenge, back in 2010 was to build on our safety credentials to develop a holistic wellbeing program, which prima facie is not normally associated with an energy utility. While instinctively we knew this was an opportunity, we also knew that if we failed to develop a meaningful program that this important work could end up as an afterthought on our intranet.

With seven years of hindsight, it’s opportune to reflect on what has made our health and wellbeing program the success it is today.

What’s your baseline?

Baselining a new initiative is often the first step companies take to understand how they compare to others. While there are a great many companies out there who have some fantastic health and wellbeing programs, it’s important to keep your health and wellbeing program’s objectives front of mind when comparing yourself to others. For Jemena this meant acknowledging that while table-tennis or office massages may make sense for other organisations, they weren’t the right fit for us. There was inspiration to be gleamed from these experiences though, and pleasingly we have been able to offer our employees things that make sense for them – on-site eye checks, sleep studies (for employees with a higher risk of fatigue), and free skin checks (which are particularly useful for our people who work outside).

Our tip: it’s great to be inspired by others but don’t lose track of who you are, what your people need, and what you’re setting out to achieve.

The all important buy-in

There’s a body of research that suggests older males are the most difficult to engage when it comes to health and wellbeing programs. At Jemena, while we continue to enhance the diversity of our workforce, a portion of our team remains in this category. As a result, generating buy-in across this segment of our workforce presented its own challenges, and required us to employ engagement methods which were easy to access, attracted the attention of our people, and didn’t present barriers to participation.

Our approach was multifaceted and took in a range of engagement tactics – some of these are technically impressive, while others have a simpler execution but have proven very effective. An example falling into the latter category is our How would you do it? program. This is an employee driven program, which as the name suggests, asks employees to nominate the parts of their job they would do differently to achieve a safer and healthier outcome.

While it may have a simple execution, the How would you do it? program, is easy to access, physically large (i.e. it attracts the attention of our people), and easy to take part in. Pleasingly, the program has proven a success across our business, particularly with our people who fall into the “hard to engage” category.



Image caption: Jemena's 'How would you do it' program invites employees to suggest ways to improve health and wellbeing.

Our tip: maximise your chances of engaging your workforce by using a range of engagement tools (from the sophisticated to the simple)! 

Make it a family affair

We know the important impact a person’s family and non-work life can have on their overall health and wellbeing, and have ensured our program encourages our people and their families to lead healthy and active lives. This has seen us continue to adopt long-held formal practices, such as offering our people flexible-working arrangements and carers leave. It has also seen us make our health and wellbeing programs a family affair! Whether it’s hosting family members at a Jemena booth at community events such as the City2Surf fun run or allowing them to also have access to our employee assistance and wellbeing support mechanisms (including wellbeing coaching, nutritional, financial and legal advice and short-term counselling), this inclusive approach supports our people and their families to lead healthy and active lives and has helped to boost engagement in our health and wellbeing program.

Our tip: boost engagement and uptake of your health and wellbeing program by making it a family affair!

There’s no one approach to getting your health and wellbeing program right, however I hope these tips will prove useful whether you’re starting a program from scratch or reviewing a well-established program.

Good luck!


Jodie Blake
EGM, People, Safety, and Environment