5 Questions about Health Management at ING

Suri, what is company health management at ING in Germany?

Healthy employees are important to us – because only then are they truly able to fulfill their potential both privately and professionally. We support them in managing their health by focusing on empowerment – living and breathing the bank's global strategy: “Empower people to stay a step ahead, in life and in business”. We are convinced that this is the only way to retain our employees and also to find the people who are a good fit for our employee culture. Our "WellbeING" program is part of this culture. It not only covers the traditional offers of company health promotion, "WellbeING" stands for more. At ING, health management takes a holistic view of health and promotes a healthy working environment. Regular employee surveys result in suggestions for tailor-made offers and programs. Among other things, we offer ergonomic workplaces, mobile work options, and flexible working hours. In addition, we offer healthy fitness meals in the canteen, or free daily fruit, free drinks as well as company sports, exercise programs, cooking courses, and seminars on health. In addition, we have company physicians on site, offer resilience coaching, and organize days dedicated to managing health every two years.

ING won the Corporate Health Award for its health budget in 2019. What is a health budget?

The most innovative and most important part of our approach to company health is definitely the "health budget". ING introduced it mid-2017. Employees can use an online platform to access a budget of 300 euros per year in a flexible and easy way. They can use it individually and choose from a wide range of offers relating to exercise, prevention, nutrition, and finding a healthy balance. This gives them complete freedom to individually design their own health measures. The advantage: everyone can use the budget, adapt it to their own wishes and needs, and thus better integrate it into their lives. The offer is particularly appreciated by part-time employees and parents.

What is the general feedback from employees? Doesn’t everyone go for it?

The topic of health is and will remain a megatrend. Nevertheless, not everyone shares the same enthusiasm and signs up for the offered fitness courses or anti-stress seminars. That’s why it’s so important that our offer allows for more individuality – like our health budget. Some are passionate about doing company sports with colleagues, while others would rather attend a yoga course close to their home, for example. True to the motto "Everything’s possible, nothing’s required," we have created a series of incentives on our global intranet as an inspiration, where everyone can report on their courses, activities, or ideas. There are great things like "Dancing 60+", Kanga training for parents with kids, the "Strong as Bamboo Resilience Seminar", "Pound Rockout Classes", Acroyoga, and much more.

How has health management at ING changed in response to the pandemic?

The fact that we have such a broad and, thanks to our health budget, also individual approach has really helped us a lot in the current situation. Since our in-house courses are no longer offered or company sports groups can no longer train together, many employees have switched to our online services or gotten tips and suggestions from the intranet site set up for this purpose.

At the beginning of the lockdown, we published a "WellbeING" issue on the intranet once a week. It contained podcasts, columns, videos with tips for strengthening the immune system, and videos with our in-house yoga & core trainers.

We’ve always been open about mental and physical health. During the lockdown, however, we gave the topic of resilience even higher priority – with a resilience podcast. There were episodes with different focuses, such as basic physical needs in crises, loneliness, or “bonding & distancing”.

What does a typical day for you as a health manager look like?

If I’m expected to make a green smoothie in the morning, jog for at least two hours, eat only fruits and vegetables, and meditate, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. My day doesn’t look that different from other HR colleagues. I work in project teams and have various meetings. Since a working day is often packed and can sometimes be stressful, I have to take care of myself just like everyone else. I personally focus on efficient scheduling, planning in micro-breaks, and trying not to neglect fun at work. Maybe I do all of this more consciously than someone who’s not working on topics like resilience and fitness every day. In any case, taking care of yourself requires a bit of work – but it’s worth it. I like to spend my free time with friends in nature and I also cook and bake as often as possible.

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