Here's the wellbeing policies some of New Zealand's top companies are rolling out for 2019

  • News
  • May 14, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Here's the wellbeing policies some of New Zealand's top companies are rolling out for 2019

In 2019, companies are more focused than ever on the health and happiness of their staff, as wellbeing becomes increasingly seen as a key indicator of success along economic value by governments and organisations across the world. This is because while the corporate world has long seen the bottom line as the be all and end all, companies are increasingly taking a more holistic view and recognising that looking after the wellbeing of their people will in turn, make their bottom line healthier, too. We reached out to some of New Zealand's top companies and asked what they're focused on for this year and why. Here's what FCB, Isthmus, RUSH, Southern Cross, Xero and Trade Me responded. 


“Wellbeing requirements in workplaces are constantly evolving and FCB are always looking for new ways to respond to this, starting with the introduction of the ‘Well team’. This is made up of a group of FCB employees whose priority it is to ensure people working within the business achieve the highest level of wellbeing possible. 

The Well team have developed a workplace programme and agency wellbeing app which aligns with the concept of Te Whare Tapa Whā; the Maori model of wellbeing. This model addresses four cornerstones of Maori health – mental health, family health, spiritual health and physical health. The Well team have come up with a number of initiatives that fall under each of these four cornerstones. So far, these have included inviting inspirational guest speakers to visit the agency, yoga sessions, weekly boot camps, healthy food and drink choices in our kitchen, massages, and a mindfulness programme. FCB’s Well team meet frequently to brainstorm and plan new ways to address workplace wellbeing, with a special focus on stress and anxiety management, and creating a positive and supportive work space in general.”

– President of the Wellness committee and senior account manager at FCB Sarah-Jane Ferens.


“Our people are the heart of Isthmus, so it is essential that every day we are ensuring our whanau are well. Our strategic plan promises to continually promote wellbeing. Softer initiatives have seen the introduction of fruit and vegetables as a snack option, noticeably reducing our cookie consumption; we run yoga sessions in each of our studio’s, have a masseuse visit weekly, and diffuse essential oils to improve air quality to combat illness.

While there is recognition amongst the team that these initiatives help, the truth is in a busy design studio delivering to tight deadlines, we often sacrifice ourselves, our home life and ultimately our health. In 2006 we introduced a management tool that recognizes overtime, with time off to recover, appreciated, but it’s not the answer.

Instead we encourage staff to be more resilient we run workshops to equip them with the tools to manage times of stress, workloads and work life balance. We offer lifestyle coaching, EAP sessions and have a whanau network to keep connected, and an HR expert to offer extra support if required.

We have a diverse flexi team, with ‘remote working’ trials currently in place, to support staff choosing to live in regional cities for family and affordability. The outcomes of which will be essential to the future of our healthy, resilient people and business. The changing work-world is upon us, and Isthmus sees it, we will need to continually adjust to retain valued staff.”

– Isthmus principal Penny McIntyre.


“One of the values we live by at RUSH is ‘Put people first’. We believe that businesses cannot expect their people to leave difficulties at the door when they come into work.  A common question overheard at RUSH is ‘Are you OK?’ and the power of this question has been huge, not only has it allowed us to support people that may not be OK, but it has shown that we genuinely care about what’s going on in their lives.  Our focus on wellbeing is going to be around mental health, specifically stress and resilience building, and further training for our people to keep an eye out for one another and to give them the tools and confidence to ask the right questions if something doesn’t seem right with their colleagues.”

– RUSH head of people Melanie Fisher.


“I know firsthand how easy it is for life to get on top of you sometimes, which is why I know it’s so important to have a supportive workplace. At Xero, we aim to create a positive environment for every one of our 2,000+ employees, so they can do the best work of their lives. Part of this means supporting their mental health as well as their physical, which is why we changed our ‘sick leave’ to ‘wellbeing leave’ – so our people know there is no judgement and a lot of support, no matter what is challenging them.

We also provide support to our employees through our global EAP provider Benestar. They have access to face-to-face, telephone and online counselling, in a private and confidential manner. Off the back of this, we’ve recently launched the Xero Assistance Program (XAP). Currently, in pilot, it provides 6,000 kiwi small business owners, employees and their families access to Benestar, free of charge. It’s important to us that our customers have the same support that our Xeros do. We are in a unique position to understand the stress, isolation and challenges they face and this is one of the ways we are trying to have a positive impact on their lives."

– Xero managing director Craig Hudson.

Southern Cross

“Our hugely successful wellbeing initiative, Switch2Well, encourages and rewards staff for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. We believe Switch2Well is a pioneer in New Zealand’s employee wellbeing space and I’m very proud to offer it to our people.

Switch2Well isn’t a bolted-on programme; it’s part of our DNA. We care about creating a culture of health and a healthy culture.

Our data shows Switch2Well has led to increased engagement, employee retention and a positive correlation between health and reduced absenteeism. In the past decade, the programme has evolved from a focus on physical health to a more holistic approach.

Today, Switch2Well offers a wide range of opportunities and options for our people to get involved in healthier lifestyle choices, from mental wellbeing and financial literacy seminars to sustainability and community support activities. Most recently, we introduced flexi-leave and flexi-work policies. Individuals can track their personal health and design a programme to meet their current needs while earning points for participation. These points are accumulated towards a day of paid wellbeing leave, among other benefits.

Last year, Switch2Well’s success inspired us to launch BeingWell, a workplace wellbeing programme for New Zealand businesses. BeingWell is an integrated, personalised workplace wellbeing programme that’s customisable, online and tailored to the health and wellbeing goals of individual employees. Southern Cross has an opportunity, through Switch2Well and BeingWell, to make a real difference in people’s lives. Empowering Kiwis to live their healthiest lives is what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

– Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick.

Trade Me

“Supporting our people and focusing on their wellbeing is really important to us. It means happier staff and a better work environment for everyone at Trade Me. It’s important to us to have a safe and stimulating environment where our people can be themselves. We have a range of wellbeing initiatives in place and activities staff can take part in.

We offer staff flexible work hours and five days wellness leave a year which staff can use to take time off work to contribute to activities that keep you well – whatever your definition of wellness is. We recently introduced a wellness room which our people can use to rest, pray and for new mums returning to work who need to breastfeed or express.  

We encourage people to keep moving. We have lunchtime sports teams, fitness activities, free parking for bikes and showers in our offices to make it easy for people to be active pre, post or during work hours. Once a fortnight we offer staff a free lunch which is a great time for the whole company to take a break together. We also provide fresh fruit and coffee daily.

We have a lot of walking meetings, access to a free and confidential counselling service, and seminars on things like goal planning and financial advice. There’s also a bunch of social clubs within Trade Me who meet on a regular basis such as cheese club, tea club and book club.

We want all of our staff to feel supported at work so we celebrate diversity by encouraging staff to get involved in Pink Shirt Day, Mental Health Awareness Week, New Zealand Sign Language week, Accessibility Awareness Week, Diwali and Matariki.

While we feel we’re doing a pretty good job of providing a range of wellness activities and opportunities to our team, we’re always exploring what more we could do to ensure our team is well looked after and happy."

– Trade Me chief people officer Annie Brown.

This story originally appeared on Idealog.

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