Workplace Wellness within Australian Universities 2018

Across the globe, organisations are recognising the business imperative for investing in the health and wellness of their greatest asset – their people.

The university sector is no different.

An ageing workforce, an increasing war for talent in a global marketplace, and meeting the increasing expectations of both governments and students, are just some of the challenges facing the sector. Meeting these challenges into the future relies on having a healthy, engaged and high performing workforce.

Universities have also been recognised as an important setting by the World Health Organisation in which to positively promote public health within staff and student populations.

We’ve recently undertaken an extensive research study to review workplace wellness in the University setting, with a focus on how this is being addressed in the leading Group of Eight (otherwise known as Go8) universities.

This research derived from a benchmarking exercise that was undertaken as part of a broader review of the University of Adelaide’s existing approach to Workplace Wellness, to gain insight into current industry practices, gaps and potential opportunities to guide their own strategy development.

So, what did we find?

Whilst all universities in the Go8 offered some wellness initiatives, there was a real variability in the maturity, breadth and subsequent impact of these strategies. Key highlights:

* 5 out of 8 universities have a formal strategy

* Top reasons for investing were to improve staff morale/engagement and organisational performance

* Mental health and wellness identified as top health issue

The universities with the most robust, successful strategies include clear management commitment and investment, capability and capacity of key team members, strong governance structures and processes, and the embedding of health and wellness into usual business practices.

One of the surprises from the report, is that whilst all universities provided some form of wellness offering, just over half had a dedicated role responsible for managing employee wellness. Relying on external support to keep a strategy running does not work. You need skilled and capable inhouse personnel that can action your strategy and be accountable.

The complex, siloed, often bureaucratic and highly casualised nature of the university setting, coupled with a climate of constant change, can present many challenges for workplace wellness delivery.

This report highlights that there is a real business imperative for universities to invest in a more strategic and whole of campus approach to Workplace Wellness, to foster an environment in which the university, and its staff and students, will flourish.

Curious to learn more? Download our report now.