Fit on the job: Work-Life Balance Day at SMA

This post was originally published in 2011. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

by Diana Thiel (guest post), , 0 Comments
Ernst Kaiser

Ernst Kaiser

Versuchs mal mit Gemütlichkeit!” sang the employee chorus known as SMAcapella, kicking off the inaugural SMA Work-Life Balance Day on November 3, 2011. (English-speaking Disney fans will recognize the catchy tune as “Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities!” sung by a laid-back sloth bear in “The Jungle Book.”) With its focus on reconciling work, private life and health, this year’s version of the annual Health Day drew some 1,000 participants. As at the 2010 SMA Health Night, the program lasted into the night so that all SMA employees, and particularly the shift workers, could attend. In keeping with the theme, this year’s event included sessions tailored to children, spouses, and life partners. This helped create the especially upbeat mood and friendly atmosphere that characterized the Work-Life Balance Day.

Something for everyone

This year’s Health Day was broadly divided into an exhibit hall with around 20 booths offering health checks or consultations and a conference consisting of 40 presentations and workshops. The wide variety of options was planned to address the particular needs of as many SMA employees as possible: women, fathers, commuters, apprentices, young employees, family caregivers, skilled workers, and shift workers. Some 250 managers attended a session to learn about the results of the TU Darmstadt study on work-life balance for management, as well as talks and workshops on topics such as “Healthy Leadership” and “Flexible Working Hours.”

20 booths offering health checks or consultations

20 booths offering health checks or consultations

The Work-Life Balance Day featured a number of highlights. Chief Human Resources Officer Jürgen Dolle opened the event with an inspiring speech. Noting the high demands on SMA employees, he outlined three imperatives: “Recognizing the limits to how hard we can work as individuals and as teams. Building our skills in the areas of stress management and work-life balance. And thinking about how we can improve work-life balance across the entire spectrum of work situations at SMA.” Already leading the way are the self-organized work-life balance taskforces who presented their impressive first steps in this direction at the Health Day.

Colleagues could go to lectures

Colleagues could go to lectures

Recognizing and preventing burnout

The new auditorium in Building 61 was packed, but the room fell silent as the manager of a SMA component supplier described her recent battle with burnout. Though she has now recovered, her story illustrated the risks associated with poor work-life balance. At the SMA Health Team’s booth, the “Stress Warning Signs” checklist and “Burnout Test” handouts were in demand, as was the health check for shift workers. Meanwhile, a wide range of presentations and hands-on mini-workshops addressed topics such as stress management training, health coaching, quick stress relievers, and progressive muscle relaxation. Attendees got an up-close look at how the SMA company health management program encourages them to improve their work-life balance.

Checking out Zumba at SMA

Checking out Zumba at SMA

And how did it go?

In an e-mail questionnaire of a random sample of 220 visitors, 96 percent gave the 2011 SMA Work-Life Balance Day a rating of good (53 percent) or very good (43 percent).Now the challenge is to continue following these suggestions as part of the daily routine. Opportunities abound in seminars offered by the health management and family services teams as part of the Personnel Development training program.

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