We’re celebrating the 5th anniversary of our Health & Wellbeing initiative Zest!
Written by Megan
14th September, 2016
We are celebrating the 5th anniversary of our award winning Health & Wellbeing initiative ‘Zest!' We spoke to Sharon Crockett, Zest lead to find out what it was all about.
Why did we create Zest?
Zest happened because we had a growing passion and enthusiasm to improve the health and wellbeing of our staff. We started small but had big ambitions, so a group of staff and board members got together to form the Zest group who have met monthly ever since to plan all the activities and act as ambassadors for the group.
What we did?
Zest has a pretty extensive program of events that all staff can take part in, including supporting various national campaigns such as No Smoking; various Cancer related issues; Mental Health; Heart, Asthma and Diabetes. This raises awareness amongst staff and encourages them to spread the word to their families and friends too. We’ve changed the way we do things with an outright ban on smoking and we give our managers extra coaching and mentoring on how to deal with stress. Melin also supports staff by providing health insurance and health checks.
Probably, one of the most fun parts of Zest is all the Healthy events that we hold. We have held general Health events such as breakfast promotions, free fruit, healthy cooking lessons, reiki, yoga, massage, rock climbing wall, walking groups, hydration campaigns, hypnotherapy for slimming and smoking, personal trainer sessions, mindfulness, creative writing, counselling, weight management programs and free swimming & singing lessons. It’s a great way to try out new things or food that you might not have done before.
Zest even has its own choir which we set up in 2013 and called it “Zing”. We thought we would set it up as a bit of fun and to let staff get rid of some stress at lunchtimes. It’s actually been so successful that Zing have performed for our residents and at some pretty big Melin events.
Melin also operates a Cycle to Work scheme and in February 2014, Zest supported this by building a bike store next to our offices and we also managed to buy some bikes to encourage more staff to cycle to/for work.
We also joined up with Aneurin Bevan Health Board, Gwent Police and Torfaen Council, to sign the ‘Time to Change Cymru’ mental health pledge to commit to reduce mental health discrimination. We ran a five month mental health campaign from January 2015 which ended with mental health awareness month throughout May. As part of this campaign we also developed stronger links with Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent Mind and introduced a self-referral counselling service for all staff to eliminate the barrier of having to ask for help which is still on-going.
How do we spread the word?
Staff find out about all of the Zest activities in a variety of ways. We’ve got our own newsletter which we send out and we’ve managed to get a dedicated page on our intranet. Notice boards around our offices are also a great way to tell people what we are up to and of course we have our own branded things like water bottles and orange peelers which all staff can have.
What did we celebrate the first five years?
There has been a whole host of events going on in the office from healthy breakfasts, exercise classes, health checks, to massage and free fruit. Towards the end of the summer holidays we held one of our biggest and most successful events ever. Zest in the Park saw hundreds people from our communities join, in the fun and get loads of health tips and freebies. Everyone who came along found out, not just about Zest and Melin, but also about health and wellbeing from people like Torfaen Leisure Trust and Cycle Training Wales. It was a great day and we loved meeting everyone to spread the good word.
So what’s happened as a result of Zest?
Zest has become a major part of everyone’s working life at Melin. Our staff team have become more active, stopped smoking, eaten more healthily, become less stressed, and they’ve also had fun doing a wide range of activities, learning about health and wellbeing. This has had a knock on effect in Melin’s sickness rate dropping, improved staff engagement and increased staff satisfaction levels. It’s been a project that everyone loves and everyone has been touched by in one way or another.
We have held a few activity challenges over the last year also and staff have really increased their activity levels as a result. In the last one, 68 people did over 3,583 hours of activity in an 8 week period, which was an incredible achievement and everyone found they maintained the activity levels as a result of the challenge afterwards.
But what do people really think?
Staff really think that Zest is great, they love it. We do a staff survey every year and last year 96% of them said that we care about their general wellbeing and 97% said that Zest had encouraged them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of all the activities that Zest puts on for staff, 94% of staff found them useful and 97% said Melin is committed to improving their quality of life.
It’s not just staff that think Zest is great we’ve won some amazing national awards where we have been up against some pretty big companies and actually won. In 2012, we won a Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) People Management Award for Health & Wellbeing. The judges said we had developed a huge range of activities providing a remarkable range of financial and educational awareness and support to staff and customers, something our judges saw as clearly demonstrating how well-being had been embedded into our culture, values and mission.
Then in 2013, Melin achieved the Corporate Health Standard (CHS) Gold going on to achieve Platinum in 2015. Our assessor said that we had set a high standard for others to follow and that all staff take ownership of health and wellbeing for themselves and each other.
What does the future hold for Zest?
The enthusiasm that staff show for everything Zest doesn’t seem to be stopping even after 5 years, so the future looks good. We plan to continue to do more of the same for our staff and we are going to spread a little bit of the Zest magic around all of our communities and more of our residents. We’ve also just got our own Zest mascot shaped as an Orange so expect to see her out and about telling everyone about the great work that we do.