Tracy Crago, the Assistant Manager in Gisborne’s The Warehouse store put her hand up to run a wellbeing programme even before the initiative was officially announced in January 2014.
“I heard talk about doing a wellbeing pilot programme at the end of 2013 and I knew I wanted to drive that here,” she says. “I’d been on my own wellbeing journey and had lost 25kg. I knew what a difference it had made for me, so I wanted to share that. I wanted to inspire my team, to help them change a little each day.”
So when The Warehouse’s Wellbeing Support Manager Phillipa Bennetts called for stores to volunteer for the organisation’s wellbeing pilot programme, Gisborne’s immediately became involved. (Read how The Warehouse set up its wellbeing programme.)
Tracy became her store’s wellbeing champion – the essential person in any wellbeing team who leads from the front. “I know how hard it is to make changes. I thought it was important not to have someone standing there just preaching.”
To decide where to start, Tracy set up a questionnaire in the store’s lunchroom, asking people to rank what they were most interested in out of three topics: eating well, physical activity or mental health.
The questionnaire also asked if they smoked, if they’d tried to give up and if they were interested in giving up. Tracy also asked what medical centre they were registered with, in case there was an opportunity to partner up with a particular centre. Finally she asked for suggestions or comments about how wellbeing could be created around the store.
“It was completely anonymous and voluntary. I got a great response – out of about 100 staff, including casuals, I got 41 replies. That’s really good with no incentive to respond.”
Tracy says it was valuable calling for general comments. “Most of them were little requests, such as to ‘check the air conditioning’ because some people were too cold, or ‘fill up the hand sanitisers in the bathrooms more often’. These were little things we could fix easily but made a difference.”
Tracy then called for volunteers to form a wellbeing group to run the store’s initiatives. “There are six of us and we’re a great team. We meet monthly, which is what we can manage with our various shifts, and we report to our store manager.”
Giz a name
Next came the search for a name. As each The Warehouse store takes ownership of their wellbeing programme, they’re free to call it whatever they want.
“We held a store-wide competition to come up with a name, offering a Warehouse gift voucher as a prize. We chose ‘Giz it a Go’. It stands for ‘Gisborne’, of course, but it’s also about giving something new a go – a new exercise or a new vegetable. Just give it a go!”
Taking the first step
To launch the programme, the group decided to hold a ‘Walk for Wellness’ 10 kilometre run/walk. “The idea was to get people moving, as well as create awareness about the programme,” says Tracy. “We advertised the event using posters, and had a countdown to the day to keep people’s interest up.”
In all, 20 staff took part. “Most people managed the 10km, which was great. I loved hearing people say, ‘I didn’t think I could do it, but I did it!’ I still love hearing that.”
Importantly, the Walk for Wellness was also a sponsored fundraiser. “The idea was to raise money to fund our other wellbeing work. This one event has paid for several other initiatives, including buying healthy food for our smoothie and wrap days, and part-funding physical activities our people want to try. We also use it to buy herbal teas for the lunchroom,” says Tracey.
Up and running
Giz it a Go is now a strong force for wellbeing in the store and across the company. Phillipa Bennetts singles it out as a shining example of how a wellbeing programme can make a difference – and how important it is to have an invested champion to drive it, such as Tracy.
The wellbeing group continues to use the wellbeing framework Phillipa devised to help groups plan our actions for the year. The framework also helps groups record what their goals are, who’s responsible for various projects, and when they should be completed.
Tracy says their wellbeing work has definitely had an effect on many of her team. For example, three former smokers have now been smokefree for a year, and staff involved in eating well and moving more activities have lost an impressive amount of weight.
“I’ve also noticed people are much more open about talking about health and wellbeing. If someone has a problem they’re more likely to ask questions, to ask me if I have any information about that issue. We also get lots of feedback and suggestions through our private Facebook group, which is our main communication channel.”
Tracy says the challenges have mostly been around not being able to reach some staff. “It’s often the same people who get involved, and they may not be the people who need it the most.
“It’s also difficult to reach night staff. They have such different patterns to the day staff, and even to each other, so it’s hard to schedule wellbeing activities they can come to. But we do try – for example, we ran our nutrition workshops in the evenings.
Tracy says it’s important to remember that even if people aren’t getting actively involved, they’ll still be picking up on some messages.
“I do see people reading the wellbeing information on noticeboards and picking up healthy recipes we put out. They might also go and have their cup of tea in the Wellbeing Library we’ve created in the lunchroom.
“We get buy-in when we can. You can’t do anything until people are ready to take action. And when they are, we’ll be ready to help.”
For more information about how The Warehouse approaches workplace wellbeing, please contact Phillipa Bennetts, phone: +6494898900 ext 96156 or email Phillipa.
Listen to Eva's story of becoming smokefree, with help from Giz it a Go!