THE College Ystrad Mynach is setting the standard when it comes to being a healthy place to work.
The college has been presented with a bronze award in the Welsh Assembly Government’s Corporate Health Standard scheme, the quality mark promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace.
The award recognises the college’s commitment to providing its staff with a healthier place to work at all its centres across Caerphilly county borough.
Delivered by Public Health Wales, the scheme encourages organisations to introduce policies and practices which will benefit staff physically, mentally and emotionally.
In order to achieve the accreditation, the college was subject to an intensive assessment which looked at its policies, communication and health and safety.
At College Ystrad Mynach, healthy schemes which helped the team to secure their award include holding pedometer challenges for staff, a lunchtime walking group and the introduction of cycle to work and car sharing initiatives.
Healthy eating was also a central part of the college’s wellbeing drive, with healthier options introduced to the refectory menu, nutritional advice made available on the intranet and a ‘Fruity Friday’ event held in conjunction with Cancer Research.
Anthony Matthews, the college’s human resources project manager, said work towards the award began 18 months ago when a steering committee was set up.
Under his chairmanship, the committee, whose members included lecturers and business support staff, met on a regular basis to come up with ideas and policies for a portfolio which was scrutinised by an independent assessor.
Mr Matthews said the college, which has centres in Ystrad Mynach, Rhymney, Bargoed, Blackwood, Aber Valley, Caerphilly and Tredomen, previously had a number of healthy schemes running for their staff, but working towards the Corporate Health Standard helped to put them into focus.
"Striving for the Corporate Health Standard gave us a framework to promote healthier living in the college. We had lots of ideas from staff who showed a real enthusiasm and we kept our 550-strong workforce informed of all of the new initiatives we introduced on the college’s intranet.
"Promoting healthy living to staff benefits everyone, as it improves quality of life for employees and we also benefit from reduced absenteeism."
College Principal Bryn Davies said: "The health of our workforce is extremely important to us. Having a healthy and happy workforce is vital for a thriving educational establishment, and has obvious benefits for our students.
"This award is testament to our commitment to healthy living and the hard work of our staff who have really bought into everything we are trying to achieve."
The college is not resting on its laurels and is already planning to bypass the silver award and go for the gold standard in January 2012.