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OPINION! Petra Mühlbauer, Director Human Resources at Edenred Germany: "Health management serves to retain employees"

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Edenred Germany was recently voted one of the top 100 employers in the Great Place to Work award for employee engagement. In an interview, HR Director Petra Mühlbauer explains how health management in the Company works and what that has to do with employee retention.

Petra Mühlbauer is Human Resources Director at Edenred Germany. After holding management positions in the hotel industry in Austria and Asia, she studied psychology and educational sciences at the University of Hagen and worked alongside her studies as a HR Consultant. Since 2011 she has been responsible for personnel management for Edenred Deutschland GmbH, which specializes in state-sponsored employer benefits in the form of meal vouchers and voucher cards for employee loyalty. She looks after a total of 100 employees at the Munich, Wiesbaden and Hamburg locations.

Mühlbauer, health management and employee retention - how does it fit together?

Companies that actively take care of the health of their employees ensure that they are more satisfied. And of course employees also talk about it or give reviews on the Internet. In this respect, health management is an important part of the Employer Branding.

How does the health management for your own employees at Edenred look like?

14-day, a personal trainer comes to our company during working hours and makes movement pauses, this is particularly interesting for employees with sitting activities: the emphasis is on stretching and equilibrium exercises. And the employees are also given tips and tricks on how to use the exercises during workdays.

We also regularly send out a newsletter on the subject of health @ work, in which we repeat the exercises or provide information about the importance of vitamins in nutrition. In 2014 there were also two days across the Group under the motto "Ideal Meal Day", during which the focus was on healthy eating in the workplace.

Finally, we hold a massage offer. A physiotherapist comes for the house. Employees who make use of this offer are exempted during working hours, and they bear the costs of the application themselves.

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Everything during working hours?

Yes, our employees can avail themselves of all offers for health care during their working hours.

The flu epidemic was recently on everyone's lips - how do you react to such current developments?

For example, in our newsletter, we're giving more and more hygiene tips, such as washing your hands, as this is one of the main routes of infection and providing information on what you can do to strengthen your body's defenses.

All in all, it is a matter of leading the employees to self-responsibility.

In the course of the measles outbreak in Berlin, forced suicides were discussed. What do you think of such compulsory measures in the company?

Nothing. Last year, we also offered preventative examinations in cooperation with a health insurance company and various doctors. They came into the company and carried out skin screenings, lung volume examinations, visual tests or hand-held measurements. Participating employees were also able to bring along the bonus book of their health insurance.

In principle, however, it is important for us to convince the employees to take care of their own health.

How do employees react to health management?

Very positively, some report that we only got them to run regularly after, for example, we took part in a company run last year.
We will do that again this year: We are also looking for a suitable charity run.

By the way, our health management has a large share of the Great Place to Work Award. The employees obviously value our commitment, even though in larger companies perhaps even more is offered.

Have you seen motivation and productivity improvements through health management?

Of course, we always carry out projects for process optimization. As a result, we can not simply return productivity gains to our health management. The employees, however, report back to us that they feel fitter and more motivated, for example, by the gymnastic exercises.

Could you reduce your health?

Yes, even if you can not say exactly why. Basically, however, our sick leave per year is reduced by 1-2 days per capita.

2012, we have begun health management and expanded it every year.

Do you use tax benefits or are there any grants from health insurance?

We do not use grants from a health insurance company because we have deliberately decided to make advertising for a particular insurance company.

In the case of tax concessions, we are just stretching out our sensors, which possibilities exist. For example, we do not have to pay extra taxes, because they are not seen as a salary.

What about the ergonomics of the workplaces?

When we moved into the building, we already thought about the ergonomics of the workplaces. For this purpose, lamps with daylight lamps were installed, bio-swing chairs and height-adjustable desks were purchased, and our screens can be adjusted with a resolution that is easy on the eyes.

We regularly provide information on the ergonomically correct workspace so that the employees also know the angle at which they should adjust their desk.

For departments, which make a lot of calls, there are special noise protection measures. We are currently in the process of increasing the number of green plants in order to improve the indoor climate.

In addition, we bought a massage chair, which stands in the resting room and which the employees can always use in between to relax and afterwards again fitter and motivated to go to work.

Do you have your own sports facilities?

No, but in the neighboring building is a gym. The office area has a swimming pool and we have a separate shower. This allows employees, for example, to get to work by bike.

And the pool is used?

Yes, in the summer, some employees jump into the lunch break. After work, some of them pass by with their children to swim here.

How do you deal with the smokers in the company?

Smoking rooms are not available. Smokers go for fresh air.

From Google or Facebook they have been known to even offer employees free, healthy food - what about Edenred?

Employees will receive a tax-privileged menu check with the value of 6,00 Euro per working day. These ticket restaurant vouchers can then be redeemed at nearby restaurants, supermarkets and bakeries. Our employees are free to choose what they want to have for lunch.

We are, however, browsing the menus of the restaurants and giving tips on healthy eating. To this end, we work together with external, certified nutrition consultants.

Once a year, at the 16. October, the World Food Day, a nutritionist comes to our company - an action that we carry out throughout the Group. We try our employees then, for example, with a quiz playful approach to the topic and thus eg to sensitize for ingredients and nutritional value of food. We also provide guidance and guidelines for correct BMI measurement.

We also have a communication platform called E-Lunch. Our managing director invites employees or teams to cook together once a quarter. In the process, joint projects are discussed and questions of employees are answered in a casual conversation. Again, we try to bring as healthy food on the table.

At the same time, various US IT companies were also criticized because they even interfere with the family planning of their employees - keyword social freezing. Do you see a danger that companies could interfere too much in the health of their employees?

I do not see any danger. We do not write to the employees. There is, of course, a certain group dynamics, and everyone has to think about the extent to which he can be involved here.

Employers should provide advice and action when employees need it, no more and no less. Companies need to be flexible to approach employees when they ask for support. Therefore an open corporate culture is important, which promotes the coexistence.

However, I oppose ready-made corporate programs that dictate or even monitor employees' food and health-conscious behavior. In addition, that would certainly be a problem with German labor law.

But also in Germany the first health insurance company is now monitoring health-conscious behavior with smartwatches ...

If a company starts with the attitude that it should only work with young, dynamic, lean non-smokers, then I wish the company a lot of success, but do not believe that such a position is to be held permanently in the market. I would not want to work in such a company.

For example, we have a trainee with a physical handicap who is fully integrated. When we plan trips and activities, for example, only those in which she can participate.
Employees do choose their employer and also talk about what's going on in the company - we're back to employer branding. It is therefore extremely important to be active here as an employer.

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3 responses to “OPINION! Petra Mühlbauer, Director Human Resources at Edenred Germany: "Health management serves to retain employees" "

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