In conversation with Würth: On the benefits of a digital health app in Corona times
Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG is the parent company of the globally active Würth Group. The Group is the world market leader in its core business, the sale of assembly and fastening materials. Würth is always there when it comes to drilling, grinding, gluing, doweling and screwing. Above all, however, it is close to people, through personal contact with around 3,200 permanent sales representatives in more than 500 branch offices.
Across Germany, Adolf Würth GmbH & Co. KG employs more than 7,000 people. This year, the company is celebrating its 75th anniversary. We spoke to Lydia Funk, health promoter at Fit mit Würth health management. The company made the Humanoo app available to its employees at the beginning of the year and even before the outbreak of the Coronavirus. In the interview, she talks about the benefits of a digital health app, also in view of a time characterized by change, uncertainty and isolation.
Dear Ms. Funk, thank you for taking the time so spontaneously for an interview. Given the size of your company, the Corona period has certainly not passed you by without leaving a trace. How have you experienced the last few months, including the lockdown?
A significant proportion of our employees work from home. This mainly applied to administration, the sales force, pregnant women and high-risk groups. In the meantime, our employees in logistics and in the branches have continued to work at their respective locations under strict guidelines. For us employees in the health area, working from home was possible, but the lockdown meant that our employees were unable to continue attending our previous fitness courses on-site. Accordingly, our team was challenged to create a new orientation toward digital course offerings.
Do you have any other digital course offerings beyond Humanoo?
During the Corona peak phase, participants were able to take part in evening classes such as aerobics, Zumba, yoga and Pilates via live stream. To give employees more flexibility, the videos were also published on the intranet. The digital course offering was further expanded so that employees can now also take part in the courses during their lunch break.
How did your employees fare in home office? Were your employees able to cope well with this change?
Of course, it was uncertain at the beginning how home office would affect them in these uncertain times, but experience has shown that work and productivity have not diminished at all. Some employees are able to work with much greater concentration in home office and achieve a better work-life balance. Others, on the other hand, prefer to work in the office because, firstly, they do not have the appropriate office equipment at home and, secondly, they are exposed to many disruptive factors. Childcare and homeschooling also brought additional burdens for many employees. Nevertheless, it was an exciting, new experience for us as a company, which has created an increased need for more flexibility among all of us, which we as an employer would like to meet in the long term.
How important is social interaction at Würth? Did it suffer a lot during the Corona period due to mobile working?
The social aspect and team spirit definitely come up short in the mobile office. We are constantly trying to find new ways to strengthen social interaction despite home office, because the exchange between colleagues should not be limited to professional topics.
What kind of ways could that be?
One way we have been working on for over 25 years is the issue of health. By actively promoting our employees’ awareness of a healthy lifestyle and way of working, we ensure greater well-being in the company and in their private lives. The great thing about the Humanoo app is that, in addition to promoting health, it also inspires cooperation among colleagues. Particularly in times of mobile offices, the app creates a bond among colleagues, but also between employer and employee. In this respect, it was a stroke of luck that we made Humanoo available to our employees even before the Corona period and were then able to benefit from it during the lockdown – when gyms and on-site classes had to close.
What did you fundamentally hope to gain from introducing a tool like Humanoo?
Since the professional roles and work routines of our employees vary greatly, it was important to us that our employees are free to decide when and where they want to do something for their health and on which topics they want to focus. With the Humanoo app, we want to reach those who cannot or do not want to take part in our on-site measures – this primarily concerns colleagues in the branches and in the field. Since the mobile office phase, however, it affects almost everyone.
What do you like most about Humanoo compared to other health offerings or apps?
We have been able to achieve quite a high activation rate among our employees with Humanoo. In addition, our team conducted its own step challenge with Humanoo in the spring. In order to get more exercise during the Corona period, individual teams also had the opportunity to conduct their own private step challenges. This was not only fun, but also quite useful for all of us considering the acute lack of exercise during the lockdown! According to our reporting for the completed quarter, our employees walked significantly more during the challenge than on normal days. To be more precise, the average daily step count among our employees increased by almost 30%. For our team in particular, it is exciting to observe how such playful approaches serve both as motivation to move more and at the same time strengthen team cohesion.
In your opinion, are there aspects around the topic of work-life balance that have been neglected in occupational health management so far?
The topic of mental health in the workplace should receive more attention, just like the influence of our bodies on our mental well-being. Many people don’t realize the connection, which is a shame, because you can really make a lot of positive difference in terms of mental well-being with sports and exercise. For this reason, we also offer our employees various seminars on stress management and resilience, as well as Qi Gong and relaxation courses.
What do you think a person needs in order to work well?
A sufficient amount of exercise and relaxation is a good prerequisite, but is not enough on its own. To be truly motivated in the long term at work, everyone needs a certain amount of responsibility, a supportive working environment and appropriate appreciation. We attach great importance to these elements at Würth.
Thank you very much, Ms. Funk, for the detailed interview and the many insights into everyday working life at Würth under the new conditions.