Better together!

Better together!: Industry & Social organisation: Enhancing mental health at work.

Hard & Feldkirch, AustriaHard & Feldkirch
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

"Better together" aims at providing a sustainable solution for mental health at work at the big industrial company "Alpla" (15.300 employees worldwide). It is an outstanding cooperation between an important social organisation in the region - Caritas - and an industrial player - Alpla. Social and business knowledge merge. The core: mental health evaluation for 800 employees. Prevention and early action is the key.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In most OECD countries, mental illness, mild to severe, is increasing. The consequences: loss of performance, productivity and employment, increased health care costs. Mental health - a key success factor for any company and national economy. In Austria, the mental health risks at work have to be evaluated by employers and they have to install improvement measures by law. But: mental health programs are not the core business for most. The HR department sometimes has not the specific expertise and/or resources requirede. For this, existing programs often aim at law fullfillment, but not at real employee support. "Better together" goes beyond: Early action and prevention, with a mental health expert team from the social sector (Caritas).

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Caritas - specialized in social casework. Integration and training of unemployed people. Counselling people with multiple health an social hindrances is a routine. This professional knowledge is transferred to the Alpla plant in Hard. -Evaluation of mental and social health risks at the plant. Participation of 800 employees. Scientific and validated questionnaire. 80 questions on health, team and leadership issues. -Group workhops - in-depth analysis of the problem fields -Solution finding process with employees, management, and company owners -Implementation of prevention measures
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

-We establish a monitoring system (evaluation, workshops, employee involvement) so that a lot of absence, illness, loss of performance and health-care cost can be avoided. -Our actions go far beyond law fullfillment. -We are equal partners and learn from each other: social and business are "better together" as we create added value by using the best experts and knowledge from both worlds -It is a bottom-up solution: Employees are deeply involved, participate in the solutions, they get individual counselling by Caritas, if necessary. -in-plant social casework can grant 100% confidentiality, because of the independent partner (Caritas)

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

-Best practice for other employers - "breaking the ice" -Many companies in the region will follow - Health programs and employee assistance will become a standard for all organisations in the region, in Austria, in the EU. - To attract the best people, companies will have to prove that they are good employers by having a professional health management. - Psychological health management is a normal requirement for companies, not a only a “fulfillment of the law”. - Our project will have found many followers in the region. - The EU countries have built up a reputation to attract best people and high potentials from all over the world because we have fair and good working conditions. - The EU uses it’s international influence to encourage other countries/regions to strive for fair and good working conditions.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

All organisations face the same challenge: Not only in Austria mental health problems/risks have increased severely in the past 10 years. Since the Austrian law for Safety at Work (2013) includes mental health, many companies find it difficult to comply, due to lack of knowledge and of experts. Many have opted for self-made solutions, some comply only on a minimum level. This means fulfilling the law, without really doing something for the employees. Without creating a healthier and more encouraging work place. "Better together" goes far beyond. It evaluates, it involves people, it prevents, it supports, it makes two very different partners learn from each other. As far as we know, we are the only project in our region, that has a strong cooperation between a social and an industry partner. Both partners have a strong involvment of ownership, top management and employees.


In the steering team, there are decision makers of both organisations. On the Alpla side, the owner, the Top Management, the Head of HR, the Trade Union Representative, the company physician, and the Human Resources Development are involved. On the Caritas side, there is the top management, HR experts, social workers, coaching/counselling experts. It is important for both partners that top management is involved. The management of Caritas is very fond of this new project and sees the big chance to work together closely with an international company.
About the Lead Co-Creation Partners
ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG
Visit website
Type of organization (e.g. NGO, association, not-for-profit, foundation, social enterprise)

Social organisation

Total Number of Full-Time Employees


Lead Contact First Name


Lead Contact Last Name



Head of Department "Work & Qualification"



Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Organization Name

ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG

Total Number of Full-Time Employees

15.300 worldwide / around 800 at the site in Hard

Lead Contact First Name


Lead Contact Last Name



Human Resources Management at the plant in Hard



Twitter URL
Facebook URL
Organization Website
Basic Info
Project Starting Year
Primary European Country where this Project is creating social impact

, VOR, Hard & Feldkirch

Additional European countries where this Project is creating social impact
Select the category that best fits the type of your project:

New products & services: Entries in this category develop and offer essentials product and services that address needs currently unmet.

What awards or honors has the project received?

- (it is a start-up / pilot-project)

Project Summary
Co-Creation Model: Tell us about your main strategic partners and how the partnership truly create value. For each Partner please include its type (business/social/public), its name, a short description, its key motivation to participate in the co-creation project, and the key contributions it is making in the co-creation project. Please follow the format displayed below:

-Partner 1: Caritas Vorarlberg
-Type of partner: Social Organisation
-Short description sentence:
Caritas Vorarlberg is a social organisation with activities in the federal state of Vorarlberg. Our experts are specialized in employee assistance and health management.
-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project:
Health problems often lead to unemployement, our focus therefore is on prevention.
Mental health prevention is more than trouble-shooting. We seek to create a best practice example of modern health management.
-Key contributions in the co-creation project:
20-years of experience at employee assistance, social casework and health management. Interdisciplinary team of experts. Knowledge and selection of the key tools (“ABI-plus”-questionnaire, “ABS”- workshop method). Transfer of knowledge from social into business organisation.

-Partner 2
-Type of partner: Business.
-Short description sentence:
ALPLA stands for top-quality plastic packaging throughout the world. 15.300 employees produce quality packaging for foodstuffs, cosmetics and industrial cleaning brands at more than 150 sites in 40 countrys. As an international market and technology leader, ALPLA is continuing to extend its global prominence.

-Key motivation to participate in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
We want to comply with the legal obligation of Austrian law regarding mental health, but beyond this, create a sustainable prevention system in cases of mental health risks. As a family business, ALPLA stand by its values of fairness, respect and mutual esteem

-Key contributions in the co-creation project [Max 35 words/partner]
The strategic decision to collaborate with a social organisation. Investment of financial resources to make a survey and evaluation among 800 employees.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact. Please specify using qualitative and quantitative data (e.g. # of indirect and direct beneficiaries); help us understand how this solution truly makes a difference.

Alpla is very active , informing all 800 employees of the plants in Vorarlberg in personal talks, team-meetings and via the in-plant media such as the company magazine. The Caritas team is preparing the evaluation of the mental health, starting in June 2014.
- Alpla and Caritas as long-term learning partners
- Established employee assistance and health programs
- Reduction of absence due to illness
- Less fluctuation at Alpla (being already quite low in comparison with the industry average)
- Regular evaluation (every 5 years) with the same tool, to measure progress
- We are a best practice example for other companies.
- Caritas Betriebsberatung has several well-operating projects with industry companies
- Alpla has built up it’s own expertise in health management
- For social casework in individual, special situations they can rely on the Caritas team.

Funding: How is your project financial supported? [select all that apply]


Sustainability Plan: Has your project already reached financial sustainability? If not, what is this solutio’s plan to ensure financial sustainability? Do the main partners have enough stake to sustain the solution? If this project requires limited budget, how will other resources be secured to maintain or grow this work?

The crucial point is the funding at the beginning, because on the long run health management can even be a return on investment for a company.

At present, each partner covers his own costs. During the 1st year, Caritas is not charging for it's expertise and counselling, in order to lower the barrier to do a pilot project. The internal cost at Caritas has to covered with fundraising.

The award would be a strong signal in the industry. It would give importance to mental health and psycho-social evaluation. It would enhance the importance of professional methods for sustainable employee assistance programs and health.

It would enable us to bring the health management and employee assistance to many more partners in the industry!

Alpla has assigned part of it's HR budget for psycho-social evaluation.

Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the Partners to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

The partners seem to be worlds apart - at a first glance. But...
The "Aha" happened when the industry partner Alpla could see, feel and understand that the Caritas team has not only the social but also the business perspective:
At the Caritas employment project, unemployed people are trained to return to the regular labour market. They get support by work coaches, social casework and other experts.
BUT - the effort of Caritas is not only about helping and supporting people, it is equally about developing the working capacity and performance.
When the Alpla team was walking through the Caritas re-use & recycling plant, they could build up trust, that Caritas would be the right partner.

About the Co-Creation
Barriers: What main barriers may you have encountered to co-create during the creation and implementation of the project and how did you try to overcome them?

Building trust was extremely important.
Caritas had to convince Alpla that the Caritas people have a good understanding of the needs and wants of an industrial firm. The Caritas team does not only have the “social” perspective, but also the “business” perspective. It is not about turning Alpla into a social business, it is about further improving the working environment for the Alpal staff, in order to be able to perform in a sustainable way.

Furthermore, Alpla wanted to make sure that Caritas had the appropriate experts for the different issues, like data collection, interpretation, health management, setting up projects, etc.

Governance: What is the type of the relationship between the partners? (e.g. joint venture, contractual relationship, joint project...)

At the moment, there is a contract for the pilot project for the duration of one year. But the intention is clearly to continue and to build up a permanent learning partnership.

Interaction model: How is the project a transformative partnership? How is the interaction transforming the partnering organizations and their employees/ leadership in terms of creating a new vision, new management practices, new skills and new organizational structures? Please provide for concrete examples

The project has transformative power: A big industrial player allows a social organisation to gain insight into the company and it's culture.

"Make" or "buy" is an everyday decision in production. But it is a considerable decision to take special knowledge from a social organisation in human resources affairs!

A big industrial player takes in special knowledge from outside - from a social organisation.
The co creation-process is intense, we had many meetings and workshops to define, decide and find out what we want.
We see each other as equal partners, important decisions are made together.

How did you find out about this competition?

From The Social Vision Summit 2014 (Berlin) Website.