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Meetings, mung beans and the mountain pose.

How one business incorporates health and wellbeing into their workplace

Carol Benda, Coordinator at Women’s Legal Centre, gazes out of the boardroom window and notices how the clouds are forming long streaks in the sky. Ordinarily she would bring her mind back to the staff meeting, but in this case, she and all eight staff members are lying prostrate on the floor as part of their combined staff meeting/yoga class. So if gazing out of the window helps Carol relax, all the better.

The yoga class is one of the many initiatives that Women’s Legal Centre is putting in place as part of the Healthier Work program, a  free  ACT Government service aimed at encouraging staff to make healthier choices throughout their working day. As a busy organisation, where staff often work long hours and  through their lunch breaks, the program has been a welcome addition.

“We worked closely with our Healthier Work consultant to come up with ideas that would be easy to implement and cater to everybody’s fitness levels,” says Carol, who first heard about the program on the radio. “We also ensured that our activities could be incorporated as much as possible into our work schedule, so that people would feel like they still had time to get their work done.”

Other initiatives have included a monthly lunch where the team walk to nearby restaurants and cafes, instead of driving, and outdoor activities such as lawn  bowling, bike  riding and even paddle boating.

“Healthier Work also spoke to us about other things we could do with a healthy focus, so each week we organise a bowl of fruit and vegetables for staff to snack on,” she adds. “People have said they don’t think about needing  their afternoon chocolate fix as a result.”

Aside from the obvious health benefits, Carol has noticed a definite lift in spirits.

“We’re a close working team anyway,” she says. “But having a formal structure in place that encourages all staff to participate in activities together has really boosted morale and brought us closer together – it’s been so worthwhile.”

Healthier Work is a free ACT Government service established to support employers to develop health and  wellbeing  initiatives within their workplace. Visit healthierwork.act.gov.au for more details.

Healthier  Work is part of a joint Australian, State and Territory Government initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health

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