Antrim Borough Council is reaping the rewards of investing in the health and well-being of its community and employees. The success of its pro-active and innovative approach is evidenced by the fact that hundreds of families are being helped to stay warm this winter, thanks to a five-fold sales increase in its hugely successful Oil Stamp Saving Scheme. Believing that healthy people equal a healthy performance, the Council’s focus on the health and well-being of employees has resulted in a 43 per cent reduction in absenteeism over a two-year period.
The Council is continually driving efforts to improve the quality of life for its community. A dedicated Health and Well-being Team works across the Borough and, as a result, the Council has exceeded Public Health Agency targets for addressing both fuel poverty and home safety. Indeed, fuel poverty was one the first issues the team tackled after being established, setting up one of the first oil stamp saving schemes in the province.
Anne and Wilson Kirkpatrick from Loanends, outside Antrim, are testament to the benefits of the team’s home safety and energy efficiency assessments. The team arranged for Anne and Wilson to have their home heating boiler replaced and Anne says this has made a huge difference to their quality of life. She comments: “Without the help and advice we got from the Health and Well-being Team we would still be struggling to stay warm. It feels like luxury to be able to turn the tap on and have warm water whenever we need it. We’re no longer worried about the winter.”
The team’s annual electric blanket testing event has also had staggering results. Over two days last November, 115 blankets were tested and 82 were classed as dangerous. Thanks to external funding, these blankets were disposed of and residents received replacements.
While the Council is committed to delivering high quality services to its ratepayers, it also recognises that the health and well-being of employees has a direct impact on service delivery. With this in mind, health and well-being of employees has become a key focus for the organisation.
As part of the Council’s Health, Safety and Well-being Strategy, a holistic Well-being Programme was developed to help achieve its goal of improving the quality of life of employees and further embedding a culture of health and well-being across the organisation.
The programme, which aims to equip employees to take responsibility for their own well-being, is open to all employees. They are encouraged to work in partnership with their line manager to develop a personally tailored action plan.
Flexible working is a key element of the overall Well-being Progamme and plays a vital role in minimising absenteeism, maximising employee satisfaction and engagement and enabling employees to develop their own solutions to work-life balance issues. The Council’s approach is valued by employees with 30 per cent of the work force having submitted work-life balance requests. There are no barriers to applications, just a consistent approach to how each one is scrutinised.
Recognition for the Council’s pro-active and innovative approach has come from a number of external professional bodies it recently became the only organisation in both the public and private sector in Northern Ireland to have reached the finals of the prestigious national CIPD People Management Awards.
The Council’s Absence Management is the subject of a case study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development: www.cipd.co.uk/absencemanagementsurvey and its Well-being Programme is featured on the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland website: www.hseni.gov.uk/antrim_borough_council_case_study.pdf