The "Thrive Portal" and onsite work wellbeing, with CommBank's Ben Sheidow - WellBeingGrow
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The “Thrive Portal” and onsite work wellbeing, with CommBank’s Ben Sheidow

The “Thrive Portal” and onsite work wellbeing, with CommBank’s Ben Sheidow

“One of the key things that we’ve got, that has resonated really well through our Thrive portal, is employee stories. We have employees who want to tell their own health and wellbeing stories and it has been really impactful right across the organisation. Some of these ranges with people who have been suffering from cancer, people who have gone on a weight loss journey, people who have found physical activity and fitness and attract that as well. People also suffering from mental health concerns as well. They voluntarily open up and filmed that experience which has been really powerful for other employees…”

The Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at the Commonwealth Bank, Ben Sheidow discusses what resources bring  better balance, health and flexibility into the workplace. Traditional programs such as the “Employee Assistance” program, combined with onsite access to mentoring facilities, personal development opportunities, and “Health Hubs”;  all contribute to a thriving culture at CommBank.

CommBank has even gone virtual . The “Thrive portal” is an online health and wellbeing database providing employees with 24/7 access to various self-serve resources. Within this portal staff can find educational videos and training programs created by industry leaders. What they can also find is a safe, online community where staff can openly discuss and seek advice about their personal health concerns.

TR: “…So what sort of programs have you got in place?”

BS: “I could run through quite a few. I will start with the traditional ones. We’ve got the employee assistance programs, then our managerial assist programs, these are typically reactive programs. We are typically trying to push people to use them in a more proactive way. People can access them; their immediate family can access them, for counselling or any other psychological assistance or help.”

“But we also have avenues for proactive measures throughout these programs like exercise advice, or nutrition advice; where people would want to start a nutritional program to start better eating, they can actually access these programs through that. Now what we have branched out recently is we have Commonwealth Bank health fund as well…. And recently throughout our corporate buildings and our major capital buildings is what we call Health Hubs… Now Health Hubs are available to many of our employees across the organisation. They can actually go in and have a four-minute health check. So they can check up on any health aspects that they want to… There are thresholds that have been put in place with our chief medical adviser, and If people are outside of those thresholds in those medical assessments they get referred for further medical advice.”

“We are living in a society where quite often we hear people are time poor. So it like ok, what can we do from a health and wellbeing perspective, to bring these resources to our people? If we think about it really simply, if people go for a normal health check with their GP, it might take them 45 minutes to leave work, go to a 45-minute appointment, and 45-minutes to come back. Now that’s a deterrent for many people who have very busy lives. So if we can bring those facilities and those resources for people onsite, it is encouraging them to actually make use of those facilities.”

TR: … “I know you are interested in mental health in the workplace, what sort of things do you have in place at CBA to offer people assistance if their feeling perhaps mental issues?”

BS: “We take an education approach so we’re educated from our senior leaders right through to our managers and to our employees as well. All the different resources that are available to them. Now we have self-serve resources, where people can actually go onto our “Thrive Portal”, the health and wellbeing portal, it is personalised, people can choose what they would like to see or like to read through or view, we have TED talks, we have videos, we have educational videos, we have training programs, we have articles, all written by industry experts and it’s all fed into our “Thrive Portal” where people can actually access them… We also use different channels for people to actually access help. We have a chat services, as well as the usual phone or email, or even skype services for our people to seek help. Because we know people digest information and want to communicate with others in different ways.”

TR: “What do you do, with your managers, to get the culture shifting down through them? Do you have programs in place with management level?”

BS: “So I referred to “Thrive” as our health and wellbeing portal. “Thrive” is our health and wellbeing program, so what we have is we have “Thrive” training as well. Thrive training is for all levels of managers. From senior leaders right down and it is about leading out a mentally healthy workplace, making it open and safe environment for people to raise mental health concerns. That might mean that they need support at that point in time or it might be they need some flexibility in their work environment. So we openly encourage our managers to have those conversations and for our employees to have those conversations as well.”



Terry Robson, is the editor-in-chief of WellBeing magazine. He has written five books, presents on-air segments for radio stations around Australia including a weekly program titled Terry on 702 ABC Sydney’s Afternoons program with James Valentine, and is also co-presenter of the ABC podcastseries Talking Health. Terry has previously worked as health correspondent for Sky News, the Seven Network, Channel TEN and NBN Television. He currently makes regular appearances on The Morning Show.

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