The Swiss philosopher Carl Hilty once claimed: “Work is a source of health.” That may sound good, but it can only become a reality when all aspects of the workplace fit – from ergonomically designed equipment to the working climate. “Consequently, occupational health is an extremely diverse topic, and touches on various areas of working life,” says Christoph Ruholl, Head of Human Resources at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). “That’s why it’s important to approach the matter holistically, integrating a range of perspectives.”

To help achieve that goal, the AWI has a “health circle”: roughly once a quarter, representatives of various committees, offices and departments whose work involves the topic meet to identify and coordinate on measures to promote occupational health. The participants range from Human Resources and Occupational Safety staff, to committees like the Staff Council, the psychosocial counsellor and the Staff Doctor.

The Staff Doctor is the main contact partner for all AWI employees when it comes to health questions. Shortly after being hired, all new employees can and should make an appointment with the Staff Doctor, so that they can get to know one another and establish a relationship built on trust. As a result, employees not only know who to get in touch with when health problems crop up; they can also discuss what type of workplace is optimal for their personal health needs, and whether they need any additional equipment, e.g. VDU glasses.

In addition, the AWI offers e.g. consulting and presentations on health-related topics, as well as psychosocial consulting. There are also special programmes designed to encourage more movement: in addition to “Active Lunch Break”, many AWI employees band together to form their own sport teams, e.g. for volleyball, Nordic walking, badminton or sailing. Furthermore, AWI offers employees access to sports and health facilities as well as online courses on exercise, nutrition and meditation through a membership with a company fitness association partner. In the area of stress prevention, self-organised groups meet for autogenic training or yoga.

Regular eye tests as well as flu vaccination by the company medical centre in autumn round off the offer. Further targeted offers are made in cooperation with various health insurance companies.

With regard to all health-related offers and services, the goal is for them to take place as close to the workplace as possible, and to ensure they can also be used on a spontaneous basis. After all, our goal is for work to be a source of health for as many AWI employees as possible.