How you and your business can excel, by being well

Ready to harness the power of wellbeing? Executives are becoming more informed and invested in the benefits of wellbeing. We sat down with Aaron Canning, Chief Financial Officer at Blackmores and put health and wellness under the spotlight.

When it comes to wellbeing, why are we concerned now more than ever?

As a natural health company, Blackmores has always had a strong interest in wellbeing. We believe in preventative health and using nature as a source to be able to improve people’s health and wellbeing. We have an ageing population and we all want to live longer and be healthy, right? We all think we are a lot younger than we are! We all would like to be able to continue to enjoy life to the fullest as we age. People are increasingly looking to find new ways to support health and wellbeing – and they also understand the importance of maintaining good health.

How does Blackmores define wellbeing in the workplace?

We look at wellbeing from a holistic point of view covering three different philosophical areas: physical, emotional and financial wellbeing. We take great pride in our head office at Warriewood, in terms of providing an environment our staff want to work in, but also the impact it has on the environment. This includes sustainable features including our own natural gas tri–generation electricity plant is a unique design to draw hot air out of the building to reduce our air conditioning needs. In addition, providing access to green space including gardens and outside areas for socialising and relaxation allows out staff to step away from their desks and enjoy their surroundings.

Our philosophy stems from the premise that if we don’t protect the physical environment in terms of our impact, how can we rely on nature to provide high quality ingredients for our products in the future? We know we are fortunate to have access to a beautiful physical environment where we work, and we know our people value it.

Our campus supports and promotes wellbeing by offering a staff a fully equipped gym, swimming pool, personal trainer and access to daily classes such as yoga, cross training and boxing. Blackmores subsidises the operation of a staff café with a focus on healthy and nutritious meals and we have an onsite wellness centre providing staff access to naturopathic consultations, beauty treatments, massages and more. Our staff have access to benefits to improve their financial health including access to profit share where all staff directly benefit from the financial performance of the company, bonus schemes, employee share plans and discounted products for family and friends.

As CFO, how can you quantify the impact or benefits around wellbeing?

It’s difficult to quantify in a single measure. We prefer to look across a range of factors in order to paint a picture for us around wellbeing and how this impacts productivity and our financial performance. Employee retention rates are one indicator and we are very proud of the tenure of our employees. Factors such as low turnover, absenteeism and workplace health and safety are fundamental areas we assess. Staff surveys and engagement scores are a way of obtaining direct feedback so we know what our people value. We are proud to be recognised as an Employer of choice through awards.

However, supporting people and their wellbeing isn’t just about a gym and financial benefits, it relates to job satisfaction, recognition, positive mental health and more. We try and provide our staff with a variety of support to ensure we meet the diverse needs of employees and their families.

Blackmores has wellbeing at the heart of its culture and DNA. How are you continuing to improve?

Regardless of any scores we receive, we continue to challenge ourselves to improve and importantly listen to our staff around what they tell us they want. An example of this would be offering alternative Paternity policies for men who want to experience more time out raising their children or career break opportunities for staff to take time out and experience something new. This is a great way for us to retain our top talent. Our Chairman often talks about the 3-Ps of wellbeing – People first, Product second, Passion third. So if you protect and grow each of those three, you are going to have a pretty good place to work.

What challenges do companies face around wellbeing?

Balancing work, life, family and personal commitments particularly with increased connectivity in a modern workplace, is something we try to manage very closely. It’s also about tackling challenges head on and ensuring that we are empowering people. From de-stigmatising issues around mental health to creating flexible working opportunities and more; it’s important that people can bring their whole and authentic selves to work. Investment in ensuring companies address staff wellbeing should be seen in the same way as investment into any other asset in the business. Cultivating an environment where staff feel challenged, empowered and heard will continue to deliver returns long after the initial financial commitments are made.

Any tips for companies out there who are finding themselves in a culture that is difficult?

It takes time, perseverance and trust. If you are in an environment where the culture is not where you would like it to be, you need to build trust, and commitment amongst staff that action will be taken to do something about it. Trust is built up over time and there may well be a level of natural scepticism from the beginning. Take for instance our profit sharing scheme where employees all receive a bonus if the company does well – this is something that has been established for over 30 years!

How do you stay well?

I try to take a balanced view of my health and wellbeing. I know I could do a little better in some areas, but having a balanced diet and also ensuring I take time out to enjoy life outside of work and enjoy some of the good things in life e.g. a glass of wine or two; is how I stay well. It’s important for both physical and mental wellbeing to have some down time and we encourage that for all our staff. The way I see it, it is all about taking care of my health today, so I can maintain my wellbeing for tomorrow!

For more CFO Insights, please click here to view our most recent edition of CFO Sentiment – Positive global outlook drives optimism.


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