How Lendlease achieved ROI on its award-winning wellbeing program

Jane Gardner, health and wellbeing program manager, group sustainability for Lendlease.

A comprehensive and integrated approach to workplace health, incorporating occupational health, psychosocial risk management and wellbeing – backed by strong leadership support – have been critical to the success of Lendlease’s award-winning workplace health and wellbeing program.

The integrated property and infrastructure company, which employs some 13,000 people across approximately 780 active projects and managed assets in eight countries around the world, formally endorsed a framework to support the mental and physical wellbeing of employees in 2014.

It commissioned an SROI (social return on investment) analysis to measure the impact of this framework from 2015 to 2017, and subsequent analysis found that for every dollar invested in the program there has been a return of $1.09.

“At Lendlease we believe caring for our employees extends beyond keeping them physically safe to also looking after their mental and physical wellbeing,” said Jane Gardner, health and wellbeing program manager, group sustainability for Lendlease.

Lendlease’s health and wellbeing framework focuses on four key areas: supporting healthier minds, developing healthier bodies, building healthier places and creating healthier cultures, according to Gardner, who added that there were a number of key factors which enabled the success of the program:

  • Leadership support
  • A tightly integrated strategy across both health and wellbeing
  • Cross-functional (regional and global) working groups
  • Regional empowerment
  • Communication campaigns and employee stories

Improving mental health outcomes
There is a strong focus on mental health in the program, and Lendlease has implemented a number of strategies to improve mental health outcomes across the business.

“Mental health continues to be a growing focus for Lendlease,” said Gardner.

“Our programs offer preventative support to employees experiencing a mental health condition, and guide our managers in supporting employees who may be experiencing mental health challenges.”

More than 1150 Lendlease employees have been trained in mental health first aid across the UK, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and US, with thousands more in other mental health programs including mental health awareness, BeyondBlue, Mates in Construction and mindfulness courses.

Close to 1700 Lendlease workers have participated in at least one mental health program, and there has also been a 53 per cent increase in the amount of mental health information provided to employees from 2013 to 2017.

“Mental health continues to be a growing focus for Lendlease”

“We offer our employees wellbeing leave (in which they are offered one day off every four months to attend to health and wellbeing related needs), which is an industry first, encouraging them to take a proactive and preventative approach to their health,” said Gardner, who explained that in the past financial year, 68 per cent of eligible workers took wellbeing leave.

“We also have a range of policies around flexible working arrangements and leave entitlements, programs on sleep, nutrition and fitness and medical checks,” said Gardner.

Another initiative in the program is called “Uprise”, which is a four-week online and telephone coaching program designed to improve stress management and reduce burnout.

Developed by clinical psychologist Dr Jay Spence, the program is delivered as a series of four online modules offered via an app on stress management, mindfulness, retraining thinking and work/life balance.

Each week there is a follow-up phone call from a qualified personal coach.

“The online content supported by the follow-up phone coaching session allows people to choose a time that suits their schedule,” said Gardner.

“The program also relies heavily on word of mouth to encourage participation; since we piloted the program in 2016, we have had great success in a relatively short time with over 300 people across the business having completed the program.”

Healthy by design
Lendlease has also taken a focused approach to designing healthy work and life practices into its workplace.

Head of workplace, Natalie Slessor, said that it is important to nudge people towards great choices without them really knowing it, like make standing meeting settings the norm, free healthy snacks easily available and putting the stairs before the lifts.

“Top performing people mean a top performing business,” she said.

“At our global headquarters at Barangaroo South, healthy snacks are provided on all floors, an internal staircase means you don’t always need to get the lift, standing desks and flexible working means people can work how they want to.”

“Providing flexible spaces empowers people to choose the way the work,” said Slessor, who added that employees are also provided enhanced end-of-trip facilities to encourage active commuting.

Lendlease’s 2017 Global Work Health Insights Study found that there has been a 50 per cent increase in provision of fruit and vegetables in Lendlease workplaces while 51 per cent of workers are eating more than the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

Furthermore, 984 kilograms of sugar has been removed from the company’s food supply with the introduction of heathier discretionary snacks, while 73 per cent of workers are doing over 150 minutes of moderate physical activity.

“Top performing people mean a top performing business”

Lendlease has also built a dedicated “wellness hub” at its global Barangaroo headquarters.

Centralised on one floor, the hub comprises a suite of dedicated rooms (incorporating consultation, contemplation, carer’s and first aid rooms) with adjoining spaces for training and activities such as yoga, pilates, boot camp and guest speakers.

The company has also focused on promoting “biophilia” through the workplace.

A report commissioned by Planet Ark found exposure to natural products and interiors create similar health benefits to those formed by spending time in nature.

“This includes improved emotional state and self-expression, lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress levels – it’s called the ‘biophillic’ effect,” said Slessor.

Measuring ROI and results
Lendlease, which recently won the multinational employer category in the Global Healthy Workplace Awards organised by the Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces (GCHW), demonstrated how comprehensive and integrated approaches to workplace health can lead to desired business outcomes, such as enhanced productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved employee morale and motivation, according to GCHW.

The awards assess employer programs across a broad range of factors including health and safety, mental wellbeing, commitment from top leadership and the ability of employees to influence its design.

Lendlease was also recognised as the platinum winner for best wellbeing project and best wellbeing team at the LearnX Impact Awards 2017.

The company’s 2017 Global Work Health Insights Study, which took in 744 senior leaders, 1761 employees, 158 worksite audits and 2440 employee biometric health assessments, found that for every dollar invested in the program there has been a return of $1.09.

Furthermore, the survey found that 74 per cent of employees are highly engaged and 79 per cent said they felt a high level of support from the business.

The research also found that office-based employees benefited more from health and wellbeing framework than site-based employees.

However, some employees experienced barriers to participating due to organisational culture, while other employees enjoyed physical health programs moreso – and the report found there is a further opportunity to focus more on mental wellbeing.

Moving forward, Lendlease is looking to identify ways to increase participation, particularly among site-based employees, as well as investing in high-impact programs.