Occupational health advice line proves popular with SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) embraced the free occupational health advice line piloted by the Government between late 2009 and March 2011, the Department for Work and Pensions has announced.

An evaluation to coincide with its first-year report into its Fit for Work service pilots found that while, as with the Fit for Work pilots, take-up was below expectation, feedback provided was that the support the advice line offered was highly valued by those who accessed it.

The “Occupational health advice lines evaluation: final report” said that the lessons learned had been fed into the extended pilot, which will run until March 2013.

Users, it added, were attracted to the service because “it was free, appeared to be a one-stop shop and provided government-sponsored support, which added to the credibility of the offer through its links with the national health service”.

It also found cheaper marketing approaches, such as online methods, often proved the most effective.

Raising the visibility of the service would need to be a priority for the future.

“The service successfully reached its intended target audience and offered them advice and support that they valued and acted upon. The service was, therefore, effective in helping the SMEs that used it to deal with their current OH issues. The main difficulty of the service was in reaching sufficient numbers of SMEs,” it concluded.

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