The Auckland District Health Board’s (DHB) To Thrive programme supports lower income employees to maximise their income through access to job specific training, financial capability education and career pathways, and to improve their health and wellbeing through access to free health checks and improved work conditions.
The programme directly contributes to the DHB’s vision of healthy communities, addressing within its own workplace the link between alleviating poverty and improving health.
At the end of 2017, it started working with key groups of lower paid employees to get a better understanding of what kind of support would be helpful.
The cleaner, waste and orderly roles were selected for the programme pilot as 100 per cent of employees in these roles are paid below $20 per hour before penal payments, representing 75 per cent of the lower income employee group. As part of its people strategy, Auckland DHB committed to supporting this employee group to maximise its income, with a focus on enhancing support for Māori and Pacific employees, who make up 50 per cent of its lower income workforce.
Career progression was highlighted as an issue in the focus groups. Those who had applied directly for other roles within the DHB often failed to progress through the recruitment process. Feedback from recruitment and supervisors was that numeracy and literacy, as well as digital literacy, was an issue within the group, many of whom have English as a second language. This was a barrier.
HR and Patient Management Services worked together to develop a series of sustainable initiatives and benefits, with the aim of showing employees they were valued, and to create a workplace culture of trust and support, lifting employee engagement and productivity through improved workplace culture.
Over a six-month period, the proposed programme background, overview, eligibility, time/cost investment, initiatives, and implementation timeline were developed.
In June 2018 official launches of To Thrive were held at Auckland Hospital and Greenlane Clinical Centre. These launches were attended by Auckland DHB Board members, the Chief Executive and members of the Executive Leadership Team. Information was shared with employees through a presentation, branded collateral and a small expo which included external vendors and partners.
Implementation of numeracy, literacy and computer skills training as well as HR-led recruitment and career development support has meant To Thrive employees have been able to successfully move to different roles within the DHB, or gain an NZQA qualification within their current role that has been linked to an increase in salary. Other benefits include annual health checks, a life insurance benefit, free gym membership, shoe vouchers and a laundry allowance. All sessions are conducted in paid work time.
Employee feedback has been positive with staff reporting new skills, increased confidence and higher rates of engagement.
An employee named Davis wrote, “The free computer course was good and the skills I learned in this course will go a long way to achieving what I want in life and at my workplace. The money minded course was very good and helped me learn how to budget.”