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Institute wins Gold Award two years in a row for promoting healthy lifestyle at the workplace
Today, the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) became the first A*STAR research institute to win the Singapore HEALTH Gold Award for the second consecutive year. Launched by the Health Promotion Board (HPB) in 2001, this biennial national award recognizes organizations with commendable Workplace Health Promotion (WHP) programs that are in line with HPB's goal of advocating a healthy lifestyle to counter the risks and suffering associated with illnesses and chronic diseases.
IBN has clinched the Gold Award twice since it participated in this competition two years ago, and this year, it recorded a significant increase in its total score compared with 2008. In particular, the Institute attained full marks for its ‘Program Components,' with a range of initiatives and policies to enhance employees' lifestyles and personal health, contribute towards overall employee development and provide a supportive working environment.
Spearheaded by IBN Director, Ms Noreena AbuBakar, IBN's WHP Committee, which is responsible for the Institute's WHP programs and initiatives, comprises the Welfare Committee and the Safety Committee.
A particular focus of IBN's strategic WHP initiatives is education to raise awareness among staff about mental health, stress management and lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition to organizing regular health talks, IBN also sponsored several staff members to participate in a Mental First Aid Course to equip them with the basic skills required to help someone with a mental health crisis.
Ms Noreena AbuBakar shares, "While we are pleased to receive this Gold Award, we are even more delighted that our staff have benefited from our programs over the past two years. In particular, the prevalence of high blood cholesterol and absenteeism due to illness among our staff have declined during this period. Employee welfare is one of our top priorities at IBN, and reducing the detrimental effects of stress has been at the forefront of our WHP policy. This award serves to motivate us and we pledge to continue to establish a holistic workplace health and wellness program for all our staff and students."
IBN also scored well in terms of ‘Program Positioning and Organization,' which reflects the strong leadership and management support for its WHP initiatives. IBN's Flexible Benefits scheme allows employees to be reimbursed for comprehensive health screening packages, including cholesterol checks, as well as gym membership fees. The Institute even sets aside a dedicated yearly budget for health-related activities such as monthly fruit distribution, flu vaccinations, and health screenings.
In addition, IBN's strong pro-family policy encourages and helps staff in their efforts to achieve a healthy work-life balance. The Institute not only supports national campaigns such as the HPB's Eat with Your Family Day that enables staff to spend quality time with their family members and loved ones, but also organizes its own family-based activities such as the ‘Bring Your Child To Work Day,' where employees' children may accompany their parents to the workplace to experience the IBN work environment.
According to Ms Amanda Wong, Head of Human Resources and Chair of the Welfare Committee, "We have open channels of communication and conduct independent surveys to gather information about the challenges faced by our staff in order to provide them with the necessary support and help. Earlier this year, we rolled out an Employee Assistance Program to help staff and their immediate family members to enhance their emotional well-being, and handle adolescent and other family issues. This program also includes financial and legal consultation."
In conjunction with HPB's Youth Advolution for Health Program, IBN also organized several activities for its Youth Research Program and long-term PhD students. One such activity was the Emotion Management Workshop, which covered issues such as anger management and anxiety control, as well as examination coping skills.
Professor Jackie Y. Ying, Executive Director, adds, "Due to the nature of scientific research, it is imperative that we maintain a safe working environment and prevent accidents from occurring. Our employees must comply with the Environment Health Safety requirements and undergo safety training in order to be able to work in the labs. We also conduct regular first aid training courses and emergency drills to equip staff with the necessary skills for coping with workplace accidents and crises. The IBN Safety Committee contributes to this effort by continually improving our safety practices and raising awareness about safety issues and the importance of accident prevention."
About Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN)
The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) was established in 2003 and is spearheaded by its Executive Director, Professor Jackie Yi-Ru Ying, who has been on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Chemical Engineering faculty since 1992, and was among the youngest to be promoted to Professor in 2001.
In 2008, Professor Ying was recognized as one of “One Hundred Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for her groundbreaking work on nanostructured systems, nanoporous materials and host matrices for quantum dots and wires.
Under her direction, IBN conducts research at the cutting-edge of bioengineering and nanotechnology. Its programs are geared towards linking multiple disciplines across all fields in engineering, science and medicine to produce research breakthroughs that will improve healthcare and our quality of life.
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