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Case study: How Dow Chemical helped staff reduce stress by 7%

Employers refer to their employees as the company’s greatest asset, yet many of them don’t have a solid strategy to keep employees healthy and engaged.

To spark off ideas for HR leaders, Jerene Ang speaks to Butch Clas, HR director for SEA and ANZ, Dow Chemical, to find out how healthcare and wellness initiatives helps improve employee satisfaction in various dimensions.

In order to be a great place to work for employees, Dow supports initiatives and activities – such as ActiveSG’s Active Enabler programme – that promote healthy work-life balance and wellness.

“We believe that a healthy body and mind will lead to improved productivity and hence it is important to us to focus on initiatives that will make employees happy at work,” Butch Clas, HR director for SEA and ANZ, Dow Chemical, says.

“We believed that happy, healthy employees is key to a company’s overall productivity. Keeping fit through walking is an achievable goal for everyone.”

In line with Dow’s Great Place to Work culture – to achieve a good work-life balance through promotion of sports and wellness activities –  the company has a wide variety of programmes allowing employees to choose their preferred sports, wellness activities and healthcare-related activities that best fit their lifestyles.

Incorporating a Great Place to Work culture requires our leaders/supervisors to have a change of mindset.
Programmes include weekly sports such as badminton, tennis, walking/running, dragon boat, futsal, and lunch yoga, a monthly fruits day, and a flexi-time policy which allows employees to take time off work for activities promoting work-life balance.

Dow also has a flexi-benefits programme that allocates flexi dollars to staff annually for them to claim healthcare and wellness programmes for themselves and their family.

Activities can be claimed include gym/exercise membership, purchase of exercise equipment, holidays, additional health checks, out-patient medical claims, insurance coverage and more.

Additionally, in June, Dow introduced the monthly fruits day where employees receive a pack of fruits in different varieties to encourage healthy eating habits.

“These programmes have proven to be popular among our employees,” Clas says.

The company also launched a five-month company-wide Walking Challenge among employees on 31 July. Endorsed by ActiveSG and with co-sponsorship from Under Armour, the challenge aims to develop a sustainable fitness habit over time.

Commenting on the programme, Clas says, “It is easy – anyone can do it, anywhere, anytime. Employees also stand to win attractive prizes.”

Butch Clas Dow Chemical

Every programme comes with its set of challenges, especially when it comes to changing employees’ behaviours.

Speaking on the challenge Dow faced when implementing the programme, Clas says: “Incorporating a Great Place to Work culture requires our leaders/supervisors to have a change of mindset.”

“For example, they must feel comfortable allowing their employees to leave office earlier than usual from time to time because when their employees are refreshed, there are returns in the form of productivity gains, trust, and overall wellbeing.”

Thankfully, Dow had strong support and understanding from its leadership team in this aspect as well as a dedicated employee-committee who volunteer to organise activities for everyone.

At the same time, the wide variety of activities employees can choose from helped to ensure their participation.

As a result of these initiatives, Dow experienced improvements in various employee satisfaction dimension surveys over the past years.

“Our yearly internal employee attitude survey has shown an improvement in the stress reduction by 7%,” Clas explains.

“We like to attribute part of these improvements from our healthcare and wellness initiatives.

“If our employees are more satisfied, the more likely they are to reciprocate in terms of the company’s results and their happiness.”

Photo / iStock

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