Health equals wealth
In August 2022, Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences offered a preventative medical examination (preventatief medisch onderzoek – PMO) to employees in collaboration with the third-party occupational health and safety service, Perspectief. The aim of the PMO was to allow employees insight into their health, lifestyle and work ability. In turn, Wittenborg gained insight on employees’ general health situation, workability and potential risks or areas which require attention at an organisational level.
Employees who participated in the PMO were invited to complete an anonymous survey and answer questions about their mental and physical health. Additionally, all of them had individual appointments with a medical professional from Perspectief in which a series of individual medical examinations with various tests were conducted, with the individual's identity kept confidential. The participants all received personalised advice from Perspectief based on the results of their check-ups. In turn, Wittenborg received a report of the results on an organisation-level about the well-being, health and working capacity of Wittenborg’s employees in general.
Wittenborg places great emphasis on the mental well-being of its employees. Therefore, the school is pleased that participants in the PMO reported neither low work capacity nor a higher risk of burnout. In 2021, it was estimated that 1.2 million Dutch people experience burnout symptoms, making it the number one cause of sick leave, generating what may be preventable losses. As such, Wittenborg considers establishing a happy, healthy workplace as an essential part of its business model to avoid such losses, in addition to being a competitive employer for top-quality talent.
An independent and dynamic workplace
This strategy has paid off in various ways. According to the report, at Wittenborg, most participants experience a positive work-life balance. A large majority say they maintain a healthy diet by eating enough fruit and vegetables, and most participants got a healthy amount of sleep. A slight minority of the participants – 47.7% – did not drink alcohol, which stands out in contrast from the rest of the population, where 8 in 10 Dutch people say they drink alcohol weekly. Only 5.3% of the Wittenborg staff claim to smoke, in comparison to 20.6% of the Dutch population. Although over 60% employees reported needing to get more exercise, the percentage of severely overweight employees within Wittenborg – 11.1% – is below the national average of 14.2% of the Dutch population. It should be noted Wittenborg's home base of Apeldoorn is the Netherland's third-healthiest city.
Employees at Wittenborg report they feel generally capable of performing their jobs both physically and mentally. Workplace relations between colleagues are perceived as pleasant and employees experience high variation and independence in their work, which Perspectief highlights are factors that prevent burnout. Employees describe Wittenborg as a nice employer with an enjoyable atmosphere.
Wittenborg is very happy with the results of this report and will continuously work to improve upon its results to become an example of good workplace management to other institutions. We thank all the participants of this PMO for providing insight into the mental and physical well-being of its employees. The data from the PMO will be used to ensure a healthier working atmosphere at our campuses and study locations, in addition to promoting the good mental and physical health of our employees. The PMO is to be conducted every two years and all Wittenborg employees will be invited to participate again in 2024.
by Niels Otterman & Olivia Nelson