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Exercise and enthusiasm

INTERVIEW WITH RICARDA SOYCK-LOCKNER, HEAD OF HR MANAGEMENT, LUTZ FASSBENDER, CHAIRMAN OF WORKS COUNCIL LAST UPDATED: 2014

Ricarda Soyck-Lockner, head of HR Management, and Lutz Fassbender, chairman of the works council, have promoted the topic of occupational health management and developed corporate membership in a very diverse health centre. The response is great, attendance is well above the usual figures. Over 30 percent of employees at Gira are actively involved and make use of the offers for the sake of their health. However, both of them don't want to rest on their laurels, but rather they want to get more people moving.

Topics in this article


Development of new tasks


Health management


Life and work at Gira

How did this initiative come about at Gira?

LF: It was a really simple genesis. A few years ago, Ms Soyck-Lockner and I started looking into the topic of occupational health management. During this time I saw a report on television about the fitness centre Sports UP, which had developed a exceptional package for promoting health in companies. The report also explained that Sports Up was not just a fitness studio, but a health service provider including rehab facilities. I then talked to others about this at Gira, because I immediately had the feeling that it would be a perfect fit for our health management total package. This was the start.

When and how did the programme get going?

RS: In 2008 we were very intensively involved in occupational health and initiated various company agreements and measures. One of these measures was intended as a positive incentive for employees to do something for their health. We were on the lookout for a very convincing offer. There were an incredible number of providers. The holistic nature and quality of the facility was very important to us. With Sports Up and INJOY we selected two particularly high-quality fitness centres here in the area. They did not just have extremely well-equipped fitness studios with a wide range of offers, but also a complete rehabilitation area.

LF: They also have top-quality staff. Nearly all of them are trained and qualified sports teachers or orthopaedists. They also employ medical staff and ecotrophologists for nutritional advice. A very important aspect is that the experts from Sports Up also visit us regularly at the company and arrange appointments with our employees. Back screenings or cardiac stress measurements are performed, for example, and consultations are offered. Or there are relaxation exercises at the workplace and the trainers show how to loosen your muscles. You don't get this in a normal fitness centre.

How's it looking in terms of employee participation in the programme? How many are using it?

RS: The participation rate for occupational health management measures like these is usually 5 to 10 percent. At the beginning, Sports Up said: We forecast a participation rate of around 30 percent of your employees. That was a very bold statement. Then we told ourselves: If we manage that, it will be a huge success. And now it turns out we had over 30 percent in the past, and even 34 percent last year. These are great figures

LF: There is also a big demand for appointments offered by Sports Up at the company during working hours. At the beginning the appointments were allocated immediately. And they still get quickly booked up. The participation rate is of course especially high to start with, as many people are very curious. But then you have to continuously work on it to maintain interest. Sports UP constantly offers new tools and the use of new measuring instruments, for example. And we are always thinking about how better to appeal to employees and what other possibilities we can offer them. In 2011, we also set up a mental health hotline, for example, as we are seeing an increasing number of mental health problems. Unfortunately, this a general trend, which has therefore also manifested itself at Gira.

Under the programme we provide, all Gira employees are members of the sports studios. Which means that Gira is also paying for the membership for those who don't go there. Doesn't that bother you?

RS: No, because we deliberately opted for this principle. This means that all employees always have the opportunity to go for a workout. If, for example, someone stops going for a while, he or she can then go back again without having to bother about getting membership again. In return, Gira pays approx. one third of the usual monthly charge for each employee. As around 30 percent of employees take advantage of the offer, this works out perfectly.


Ricarda Soyck-Lockner and Lutz Fassbender are proud that over 30 percent of Gira employees are taking advantage of the offer of Sports Up and are working out in the fitness studio. "That's a great take-up rate! And we are working on increasing this figure even more", says Ricarda Soyck-Lockner.


What's the employee feedback like on the initiative?

LF: We are constantly getting feedback and it is very positive. RS: There were also objections at first. Some employees were bothered by the fact that the fitness studio is not in Radevormwald. However, this complaint has subsided. Otherwise, the responses have been positive and can also be measured as once a year we take part in the corporate competition Great Places to Work and have received very high scores for our health promotion offer.

Where does this strong positive effect come from? Is it more than just the fact that we are taking care of our employee's fitness or their painful back?

RS: The programme not only promotes health, but also the working atmosphere as a whole. For employees work out together, attend courses together and also play badminton together. This also has a very strong, positive effect

LF: I think, that what makes Gira stand out can also be seen in the Great Places To Work surveys: Employees' identification with the company is very high in our case. In spite of the size we have reached in the meantime, we are still a family company and we have a very pronounced sense of unity. That is something special. So things like a Sports Up programme are also appreciated accordingly.

It is remarkable in itself for a company to say: We want to actively promote the fitness and health of our employees. And then consistently build up a very comprehensive offer.

RS: At the beginning it was only an idea. After initial considerations, this became a huge project which we started. Of course, there were also discussions about it. We had to win over management. However, they very quickly recognised the merits of the idea and decided in favour of it. There is also an other important aspect. We are competing for manpower and this is getting increasingly difficult. This is also why we want to provide our employees with attractive offers

LF: It is still an unusual sight in German companies to see an employee doing stretching and relaxation exercises at the workplace. Most would look bemused. Whereas this is perfectly natural in Asian countries. Employees do physical exercise together in the morning before the start of their shift. Here in Germany, we have a different relationship to this. But you can see that something is being done along these lines. Something is emerging from the programme at Gira. Things are in motion!

PROFILE OF RICARDA SOYCK-LOCKNER


Born
1972

At Gira since
1998

Studies
Business graduate specialising in HR, marketing and labour law

Career at Gira
She started at Gira as an HR administrator and in 2004 was appointed as an HR specialist and head of commercial training. Soyck-Lockner has been head of HR Management since 2012.

PROFILE OF LUTZ FASSBENDER


Born
1966

At Gira since
1993

Training
as master electrician (Chamber of Crafts)

Career at Gira
Lutz Fassbender worked as a consultant in technical sales until 1999 and then moved to information systems for workplace systems until 2009. In 2001, Lutz Fassbender was elected to the works council and has been a full-time chairman of the works council at Gira since 2009.

Current further training measure
Since 2011 Lutz Fassbender has been undergoing further training as a systemic coach in accordance with DBVC standard. In his free time, he is also currently engaged in a course of academic studies in social sciences at the Open University of Hagen.

[Last updated: 2014]


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