ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Vicki Caisley

Creating a healthier society

Southern Cross Health Society is New Zealand’s leading health insurer with a mission to create a healthier society. We are not-for-profit and have over 820,000 members, which accounts for 71% of the country’s private health insurance claims. Our people are the 600 ‘support crew’ working in sites across the country and over 87% rate us as a great place to work. We are a diverse team, with 15+ nationalities represented and tenure ranging from one day to over 42 years.

Since 2009, Southern Cross has been continuously recognised as a leading employer in New Zealand and this success can be attributed to Switch2well, our comprehensive employee wellbeing programme. This has been a decade-long journey for Southern Cross and Vicki Caisley has been at the forefront of the program since 2013 as Head of People, Strategy & Performance. Vicki strives to ensure our purpose of creating a healthier society is driven from the inside out by maintaining an inspiring internal brand and set of values, created for us by our people.
Vicki’s recent Masters of Business Administration (MBA) thesis was a research paper on the impact of community grants on the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the arts, culture and heritage categories. It demonstrated the vast impact that the funding these not-for-profit community groups receive is not only critical to their survival, but enables the provision of essential services to Kiwis that would not otherwise be provided. Through that research, she was able to bring a high-level view of wellbeing into her role at Southern Cross, and it was with that holistic wellbeing path in mind that we redesigned our programme to be broader, more inclusive and offer 365 days of healthful living to our people.
Besides leading Switch2well Vicki is also responsible for businesses planning, governance reporting and performance monitoring and providing strategic advice and specialist support services to the CEO. She is passionate about inspiring other businesses to start their own wellbeing journeys and regularly hosts other corporates and speaks at industry events to share our Switch2well story.

Vicki is passionate about New Zealand and has a keen interest in business performance, strategy and leadership. She believes it requires clarity and vision to lead and engage workforces and ultimately that will make the greatest difference to how successful New Zealand companies are. Vicki’s dedication to enhancing the health and wellbeing of more New Zealanders through workplace programs deserves consideration for Top 100 professional status.

1. Vicki Caisley

1) People are the heart and soul of business, I was attracted to the challenge of connecting people’s hearts and minds with their organization’s vision and strategic goals.

The MBA I passed with Distinction from Massey University in 2013 was valuable to my career. Amazing and challenging, it transformed my world-view, building capability and confidence.

Southern Cross has many accolades attributed to our culture:

-       2016 CanstarBlue 5 Star Award for customer service

-       2012-2016 CRM Contact Centre Silver Award

-       2009-2014/2016 IBMKenexa Best Workplaces Finalist

2)     At Southern Cross we think a great culture values every employee’s wellbeing, as our people are our strength. Their wellbeing permeates every aspect of our business – as a health organization it’s vital we walk the talk.

Our internal values encourage us to stand strong, all together, with heart and vitality to be the best. They’re integrated into everything we do at Southern Cross, especially our culture and wellbeing program, Switch2well.

Switch2well uses a whole-person approach to encourage people to be happy, healthy, and motivated. It helps us understand how health influences our life, work, home and the community. We refer to the early days of Switch2well as ‘tracksuits, nutrition and smoking cessation’, but over the last decade we’ve worked hard to establish an holistic and humanistic programme.

A team of 2FTE is dedicated to delivering Switch2well. They’re physically located at ‘the hub’ in our head office so can be accessed easily by staff. Each year they build a program based on health promotion campaigns and feedback. We pilot new activities and if successful, these are rolled out nationally.

Our ‘wheel of wellbeing’ shows the different aspects of Switch2well that enable people to be on their game at work and home. Participation is flexible, people can choose which parts of the wheel they want to engage with, such as seminars from experts, financial personal training, volunteer days, sustainable commuting and challenges.

Switch2well news is a key feature of our intranet homepage so staff at any location can be updated with articles and challenges. Our CEO and leadership team are all strong supporters of Switch2well; they are regular and enthusiastic participants themselves and in turn support staff to participate in seminars during work time.

Our physical workspaces are designed with health in mind. Plants are positioned throughout the office, priority is given to natural light and health tips are displayed throughout. The central stairs are more accessible than the elevators and staff are encouraged to ‘walk’ emails and meetings. There is also a move towards activity-based working and we host a Health Kiosk and dietitian onsite.  

Of our staff, 96% of employees participate in Switch2well and we’re working with Massey University to improve measures for business and health outcomes. Annually we use the IBM Kenexa Best Workplaces survey to measure our success. In 2016:

-       94% of employees feel we care about their health, safety, wellbeing

-       87% said participating in Switch2well had a positive impact on their wellbeing

-       95% believe in what we’re trying to accomplish

-       95% believe they’re working for a successful organization

-       94% believe living our values makes the Society a better place to work

-       95% believe the organization has a clear vision of where we’re going and how we’re getting there.

Over the last five years, absenteeism has reduced by 25% and turnover reduced by 8.5% in 2016 and 19% in 2015. By looking after our people through Switch2well we’re helping to create a healthier business.

3)     As an executive with a busy family at home, it’s important to prioritize my own wellbeing to be at my best for all the important things. For me that’s regular exercise, clean eating, time with family –coaching them in a healthful life, ‘switching off’ from work and giving back to my community – most recently in the form of chairing a 900-student primary school.

Much of my learning has been through on-the-job experience and coaching, as influential leaders gave me leadership opportunities early-on. I’ve always been drawn to organizations with a greater good – working in the public health and arts sectors, and serving on the Board of the New Zealand Fire Service (employing 10,000+ volunteer fire fighters). My study allowed me to expand my thinking around people, leadership, business and their connectedness.

I wholeheartedly encourage leaders to channel their passion and use knowledge to make a contribution back to family, employer, community and the amazing world we live in!

4)     Southern Cross has always tried to incorporate new technologies and practices into Switch2well. In 2015, we were the first company in New Zealand to integrate Fitbit activity trackers as part of a wellness programme. Today 75% of our people are still active Fitbit users. All departments make a financial commitment of $1000 per employee towards Switch2well; no other New Zealand company incentivizes a wellbeing program in this way.

Each year we incorporate new elements to the Switch2well programme. Community has been a focus for 2016 and we offered a  paid volunteer day for the first time. This enabled teams to spend a day together supporting another not-for-profit charitable organization of their choice and 100 of our people have taken up this opportunity so far.

5)     Switch2well has been a really exciting transformation for us and we feel like we’ve laid the groundwork to share our expertise with our corporate health insurance customers. In November 2016 we launched BeingWell, our workplace wellness proposition based on Switch2well, with the aim of helping other workplaces adopt their own health programs. With fewer than half of workplaces in New Zealand engaged in their employees’ wellbeing (SCHS, September 2016), there’s a clear need for leadership in this area.

Over the next five years Southern Cross will enhance the health and wellbeing of more New Zealanders through BeingWell, we see technology as the greatest opportunity. BeingWell will be underpinned by Switch, our own digital platform for people to monitor health, participate in challenges, receive coaching and be empowered to make healthy lifestyle changes. Employers will be able to see an aggregated view of their employee’s health through reports and a dashboard. This will help ensure people and workplaces receive tailored support.


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1. Vicki Caisley Healthy images Health tips on the stairs Our stairs are centrally located The hub The hub The hub Our internal values The leadership team are committed to Switch2well - Pictured CFO The leadership team are committed to Switch2well - Pictured CEO Switch2well - Wheel of wellbeing
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Comments 3

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VickI definitely walks the talk. She genuinely cares about people, and actively tries to help individuals gain a balance and alignment between there work, individual, community and personal goals. She is a real asset to Southern Cross she is one of the reasons this is a great place to work.

Becky O. on 12/20/2016

When Vicki first came on board at Southern Cross it was a complete breath of fresh air! She has most definitely made a positive and healthy impact on the society! Total Asset!

Jayde M. on 12/13/2016

Vicki has made such an impact in our business on health, wellness and employee satisfaction.

Vanessa K. on 12/07/2016

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