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WORKPLACE HEALTH CHALLENGE IS IMPROVING WORKPLACE INJURY AND CHANGING EMPLOYEE AND EMPLOYER MINDSETS

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IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:

Workplace Health Challenge (WHC), an intensive workplace health improvement program, is seeking to minimise workplace injury and illness that Work Safe Australia estimates cost more than $50 billion a year.

Workplace injuries and illnesses, state the Australian Bureau of Statistics, are both physical and psychosocial and can have an impact on long-term health. In fact, research indicates that sitting down for prolonged periods at work can increase heart disease, diabetes and mortality risk.

Australian Health Survey results agree that radical change to Australian health is a must. While smoking is down three percent in the last four years and drinking rates have dropped 1.4 percent, the number of people considered overweight and obese has risen by more than two percent. This means that nearly two-thirds of the Australian population are classified as overweight or obese.

WHC has been implementing policies, procedures and programs since 2002 that are transforming individuals and the workplace. Many WHC participants have reduced high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lost five to 50 kilograms of body fat, and have improved muscle strength and body tone as well as gained more energy and vitality.

Workplace Health Challenge’s Events are Having a Profound Impact

Workplace Health Challenge (WHC) and Operation 10 Kilos founder Julian (Jules) Smith is intent on changing the mindset of employees and employers when it comes to fitness, health and well-being. Smith, who holds a bachelor of health science degree from RMIT University, has been working since 2001 to bring these innovative events to workplaces throughout Australia and around the world.

The events yield multiple benefits, including those that impact the corporation’s bottom line – reduced sick leave, improved time management skills and greater productivity. Employees see that their employers are concerned about their health, wellness, and quality of life. The life-saving results of these programs are also helping prevent early death from illness and disease.

“While these types of benefits have been proven, it’s still been a tough battle over the years to convince some organisations,” said Smith. “These organisations have not placed an importance on health and well-being programs for their staff. Our response was to start offering our events ‘free of charge’,” he said. “We have gone from just five to 10 workplaces each year to hundreds of organisations that now pay a small entry fee per participant. These include both owner operators and large corporations in Australia and across 80 countries.”

Workplace Health Challenge Utilises Team Principals to Encourage and Motivate

Smith believes the four-time per year, twelve-week long WHC events are a must do for workplaces. Although all health, fitness and weight loss programs share the same principles – eat healthy, exercise and stay motivated – what makes WHC different is the impact it has when an entire workplace is involved.

“The power of the WHC lies within the workplace environment and is based on the ‘peer group pressure principle,” said Smith. “We are all in this together,” he said. “WHC is the ultimate team event. Success comes from the teamwork because those participating are encouraging, motivating and disciplining one another to achieve the program goals.”

“WHC is based on a system of success that includes eating five to six healthy meals a day, implementing a sound and simple exercise program of under three hours per week and utilising the systems in our book to track and monitor progress,” said Smith. “Having four events that coincide with the seasons helps keep participants on target. It’s a long-term strategy where organisations and individuals use a multi-year plan to achieve their goals.”

2013’s New Workplace Health Challenge, Operation 10 Kilos, Will Be the Ultimate Challenge

Smith feels all his efforts, over the years, have produced numerous memorable results – from a feature story on Channel 9’s A Current Affair to every organisation that has ever ‘given the WHC a go.’

“Since humble beginnings where the first ever WHC event and program was launched in my former football club, West Brunswick Football Club in Victoria, Australia, the WHC grew into a workplace based concept,” said Smith. “My thought was if it worked so well for a bunch of amateur footballers by transforming their lives, then it will ‘bloody’ work for a workplace,” he said.

“Officially, WHC first launched within the power and mining industry in La Trobe Valley, Victoria, Australia at Hazelwood Power Station,” said Smith. This program had over 8 companies participate and well over 100 employees join, including staff from companies such as Fluor, BAE Systems and Alstom.”

Since then, says Smith, staff and management from organisations such as Cadbury Schweppes, ANZ Bank and Australia Post, as well Telstra, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Australian Customs and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), just to name a few, participate in WHC events and programs.

The many participant success stories, from the local football club where the program initially launched to those across all industries, have been the inspiration for Smith’s number one health and fitness tip.

“Don’t Quit,” said Smith. “We’ll be updating the program to reflect our new 2013 strategy,” he said. “But be warned, this will be the ultimate challenge!”

To find out more about Workplace Health Challenge and the new program, Operation 10 Kilos set to launch this year, or to register your interest, visit www.workplacehealthchallenge.com. Julian Smith can be contacted directly at info@workplacehealthchallenge.com.

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