Attorney-General: Meeting Wellness Objective

May 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

“This Government remains steadfast in its commitment to employee wellness and achieving our wellness objectives in the best interest of all public officers,” Attorney-General Kathy Lynn Simmons said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [May 7] the Attorney General said, “I am pleased this morning to provide this Honourable House with an update on efforts to meet the Government Reform initiative – Wellness Objective.

“As a reminder, in November of last year, I informed this Honourable House that the responsibility for Government Reform now falls under the remit of the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform.

“An objective of the people component of Government Reform was to have fifty percent of public officers participate in a Government wellness programme. The fifty percent participation rate was to be achieved by 2020.

“While we had made quite an excellent start with the implementation of the Global Challenge programme, that saw in excess of 650 public officers participate, COVID-19 proved somewhat of a disrupter to our progress.

“The Wellness Committee established under the sponsorship of the Head of the Public Service, has re-focussed their activities and continues to work towards achieving our government reform wellness objectives.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good Morning Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this morning to provide this Honourable House with an update on efforts to meet the Government Reform initiative – Wellness Objective.

Mr. Speaker, as a reminder, in November of last year, I informed this Honourable House that the responsibility for Government Reform now falls under the remit of the Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform.

At that time, I provided an update on much of the foundational work currently in progress and specifically conveyed that the Government has prioritized development of its People, who are our public officers, and Platform, which is our information technology, while simultaneously taking the necessary steps to undertake a value assessment of all public services with a view to using the data to make sound data driven decisions.

Mr. Speaker, while I committed to return to this Honourable House with a further update following the outcome of the public service value assessment to share the impact that its results will likely have on the delivery of public services in the future, we are not at the stage to share this work as yet. That said, given the current and ongoing coronavirus pandemic conditions however, I thought it important today to highlight the employee wellness objective as set out in the Government Reform initiative and to provide an update on steps taken by the Government, as a leading employer in Bermuda, to ensure the health and well-being of its officers.

Mr. Speaker, an objective of the people component of Government Reform was to have fifty percent of public officers participate in a Government wellness programme. The fifty percent participation rate was to be achieved by 2020. While we had made quite an excellent start with the implementation of the GlobalChallenge programme, that saw in excess of 650 public officers participate, COVID-19 proved somewhat of a disrupter to our progress.

Mr. Speaker, the Wellness Committee established under the sponsorship of the Head of the Public Service, has re-focussed their activities and continues to work towards achieving our government reform wellness objectives.

Mr. Speaker, the coronavirus pandemic has affected our entire community in many ways. As an employer, the health crisis ushered in significant workplace challenges and changes. While the Government was working tirelessly to adapt to the public health crisis and the massive economic and social challenges defined by the pandemic, we were also required to focus on our employees and the health of public officers to enable continuity of services.

Mr. Speaker, it was imperative that the corporate wellness programme continued. Therefore, as an employer the Government was forced to adapt to approaching employee wellness differently. The Government therefore introduced a MoveSpring Steps Challenge for public officers in Fall 2020. The programme ran for 100-days and concluded in January 2021. Collectively 485 public officers logged 210,781,333 steps.

Overall for both Challenges, that is, the GlobalChallenge and MoveSpring Challenge, a combined total of 1,135 public officers, committed to improving their health and performance through their active participation in the programme. As a result they have increased awareness of their nutrition, focus, sleep, balance, and physical activity.

Mr. Speaker, the MoveSpring Steps Challenge not only caused Officers to continue to engage in physical activity to remain healthy but it introduced government employees to health and wellbeing elements via a deliberate yet staggered, manageable process.

Similar to the GlobalChallenge launch initiative, which required group activity, the MoveSpring Challenge required public officers to self- manage their fitness approach by setting individual goals and join specific mini-challenges created by our wellness committee. These experiences were brought to life through the use of websites and smartphone apps. They were immersive health and wellbeing experiences that informed and engaged employees.

Mr. Speaker, participants were able to track their steps and activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, boxing, rowing, Pilates, yoga and more while simultaneously adhering to all public health regulatory requirements.

Mr. Speaker, officers participating in the programme were able to view their health progress on the health dashboard, which provided a holistic snapshot and equipped them with important information that they needed to achieve their goals.

Further, participants were able to leverage the health dashboard to monitor their wellbeing in real-time, identify areas of improvement in their overall health and discover new ways to succeed notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic conditions.

Mr. Speaker, public officers have worked exceedingly hard through multiple lockdowns, remote working, and essential service delivery.

Research suggests that the current coronavirus pandemic requires employers to modify their corporate wellness offerings with more attention to three key areas. These include more virtual wellness offerings, greater focus on mental health, and greater focus on population health management.

Mr. Speaker, this Government remains steadfast in its commitment to employee wellness and achieving our wellness objectives in the best interest of all public officers.

In these circumstances the focus for the Employee Wellness Programme in 2021 is Mental Health and Wellbeing under the theme of “Mental Health Matters”.

Mr. Speaker, this theme is based on research in which the World Health Organization [WHO), estimated globally 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

Improving the mental health of public officers – making them mentally resilient to stress from the COVID-19 pandemic – can improve thinking, decision-making, workflow, and relationships at work. All of this translates to increased productivity.

Mr. Speaker, employee wellness is a leading strategy in reforming the workplace through increased productivity hence the reason it is one of many initiatives that this Government is actively pursuing. In particular, over the next three months the Wellness Committee will implement several activities including webinars, mental health challenges, and mental health and wellness training for managers.

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to recognize our Wellness Committee for their resourcefulness and continued efforts in managing the employee wellness initiative throughout this challenging coronavirus pandemic period, and to recognize “Team TCD” for their success in logging the most steps during the recently concluded MoveSpring Challenge.

Thank You Mr. Speaker.

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