Cologne A spontaneous meeting at the office door? D rather not. Even when colleagues are working on site, they only meet in video chat at Saarland University. “We moved almost everything into the digital space in order to keep the contact rate down,” says Birgit Michel-Dittgen, project manager for occupational health management at the university. “Presence or home office, that no longer makes a big difference in the normal workflow.”
But what are the demands and needs of the employees who have moved to the home office in terms of health – and how can they be served? Michel-Dittgen and her colleagues had to find answers to these questions quickly.
The university health managers agreed on important topics and followed the workforce into the virtual room. New webinars support employees with questions about mental resilience, leadership or childcare. If required, occupational safety helps to improve the ergonomic home office via webcam.
And an annual health day was divided into workshops and lectures over several days. There was information about food labels or hidden ingredients. “These are all open offers that can be used voluntarily,” says Michel-Dittgen. You have benefited from the fact that there was planning for a digital presence even before the crisis. “However, Corona has accelerated acceptance.”
The long-predicted breakthrough of digitization in health management – it only succeeded in the pandemic. Online offers were previously often limited to information on measures, for example on the intranet, says Oliver Walle, board member of the Federal Association of Occupational Health Management (BBGM). “Interactivity was in the background.”
Focus on employees
That has changed rapidly – now digital technology is used in a variety of ways. Walle expects strong growth regardless of Corona: “There are an enormous number of research projects
for digital solutions. In the future we will see them more in everyday OHM. “
Walle attests that the service providers in the industry are extremely flexible. In an association survey in June, 77 percent said that they had developed new digital offers. Walle sees BGM portals as well positioned. They bundle information and offers for employees who also log in via an app – and book a fitness course, for example.
At the push of a button, the HR department has an insight into which employee is taking part and where – and learns how this is to be assessed for tax purposes or whether health insurance companies support it. Chats open up a direct channel to the workforce. “Such solutions blossomed during Corona.”
In the future, the portals would have to map the management system more clearly and not just the access to measures. Doing good in 90 minutes Tips for a healthy workplace, support for physical and mental fitness and the right diet – Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB) pushed all of this during the corona crisis.
“We did a lot of research to bring our offers into the digital space,” says Samantha Schmid, who is responsible for BGM – the DKB received the special “Digital” prize at the Corporate Health Award. At the 26 locations, 30 of the 4,440 employees have trained as health coaches.
Michel-Dittgen sees feedback as a key to success in digitization
You advise colleagues on site and recently provided support for the new “Health to go” format. In 90-minute online units, employees can complete back training courses there. “It was also very important to us to strengthen social contacts,” says Schmid. The DKB organized virtual lunches via the intranet. Everyone cooked at home, then they met with the meal on the screen.
“Digital work is very professional, we wanted the informal not to be neglected,” says Schmid. “We received an extremely high level of popularity for these offers.” Teams can also meet for a digital after-work drink. In times of major changes, it is important to get feedback from the participants.
Birgit Michel-Dittgen from Saarland University also sees feedback as a key to success in digitization. “We once again pushed the evaluation significantly,” she says. In workshops that were offered several times, for example, the participants were asked after each edition in order to optimize further. In addition, it was possible to reach younger employees who are less affine for BGM, says Michel-Dittgen.
Digital formats should continue to play an important role even after Corona – in combination with classic on-site offers. “We will work more hybrid – and can thus generally address more target groups.”
Jan-Frederik Kolthoff, managing director of the Hamburg BGM service provider Move Up, sees great potential in the combination of the analog and digital world. The latest experiences could be helpful in the post-corona period. “The measures will then be tailored even more,” he says.
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At the beginning, face-to-face events are about building an important emotional bond between trainers and employees. Further appointments could be made via digital media: “The costs fall – and the employees have more flexibility because there is no time constraint.”
In the Corona period, companies managed to attract significantly more employees to their workshops or courses than with analogous variants before. “The number of participants
were three to four times as high, ”says Kolthoff. Of course, in times of partial or total lockdowns, the WHM offers would also have benefited from the lack of other activities. “There will also be a return to the classic local offers,” says Kolthoff. “But the success factor will be to combine both channels.”