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At SGS New Zealand, we recognize that supporting employees in their quest to achieve the right work-life balance is good for morale and productivity.

Finding the right balance is often particularly challenging for finance teams, with monthly reporting cycles, strict deadlines, and a high proportion of senior professionals and workers with family responsibilities. It is all too easy for such employees to neglect their own physical and mental health while juggling the many demands on their time.

Berin Wong, Head of Finance and Procurement at SGS New Zealand, recognized that his team members were getting older and had an increased risk of health issues and work-life balance conflicts. He decided to take action to support the wellbeing of his highly committed and effective team.

To promote heart health, the finance team purchased a blood pressure monitor and introduced a lunchtime walk initiative to encourage colleagues to take light exercise together, even during wet New Zealand winters. All SGS New Zealand offices receive a weekly fruit basket to encourage employees to choose healthier snacks; the finance team took this a step further and replaced the team candy jar with more fresh fruit. Another popular initiative was the creation of a lending library of nutrition books to encourage healthier eating.

Managers frequently travel some distance for work and spend much of their time in the office supervising staff, often late into the night, as we work across time zones. They can now work from home one day each month to complete work requiring privacy or concentration, allowing them to spend more time with their families by avoiding the commute. Our office work hours have some flexibility to allow for school dropoffs and pickups and the increasing challenges of commuting. As our office is open plan, we allow team members to use our project room to take urgent personal calls in private.

Our staff members commented:

“The walks are very good, and I lost some weight and got a bit fitter. Walking also helps to clear the head and you have a talking buddy for the 30 minutes.”

“The blood pressure machine helps you identify what triggers blood pressure increases so you can take action.“

“Our previous candy jar was just bad! Removing it was a great idea to avoid the quick sugar rush and subsequent crash.”

“The cookbooks made us more aware of good and not so good choices and had some great recipes too.”