Southern Cross Drives Workplace Wellbeing Conversation 


Southern Cross Health Society recently held its fourth annual BeingWell conference at Auckland Aotea Centre, helping business leaders navigate employee wellbeing and safeguard a healthy workforce.

The more than 500 attendees heard from speakers about creating a company culture of wellbeing, the value of investing in wellness, mental health and the needs of a new generation in the workforce.

The health insurer stated that as awareness grows around a culture of health leading to a healthy culture, employers are increasingly focused on supporting employees with their health and wellbeing.

Southern Cross Health Society CEO, Nick Astwick

Southern Cross Health Society CEO, Nick Astwick, says they launched the BeingWell conference in 2016 because they wanted to be at the forefront of driving the step-change in workplace wellbeing in New Zealand.

“We have since engaged almost 2,000 business leaders in this forum, and I think we’re now maturing as a nation and seeing a real shift in the culture around health and wellbeing in the workplace.

“What’s good for employees is very often good for business…”

“What’s good for employees is very often good for business, and organisation are starting to focus on helping their people flourish. It’s great to see evidence of more businesses wanting to make positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of their people but there is always room for improvement,” says Astwick.

In August, Southern Cross released the 2019 Workplace Wellness Report in conjunction with BusinessNZ, which found that absenteeism is on the rise at an annual cost of $1.79bn to businesses, in part due to an increase of employees going home sick.

It also revealed a net 23.5 percent of businesses surveyed reported an increase in general stress experienced by staff.

However the research also showed that 35 percent of staff are likely to turn up to work despite being sick – that’s down from 49 percent in 2012, and is now at its lowest point since the survey began.

“Positive indicators like this are heartening but it is vital that we keep these conversations top of mind,” said Astwick.

The international keynote speaker, Ryan Picarella, says that healthy employees are fundamental to the success of any business and are critical to maintaining a company’s financial well-being and long-term viability.

“Traditionally employers didn’t feel responsible for supporting their workforce through personal problems such as financial stress or relationship breakdowns, despite the impact this may have had on productivity,” said Picarella.

“But now we are realising that home-stress impacts work performance and work-stress impacts wellbeing at home. The lines are becoming blurred. Organisations that look at employee wellbeing more holistically rather than as two separate parts – home life and work life – will gain the most commercial benefit,” he said.