Capita Health Solutions Award for Managing Health at Work

award recognises organisations that have adopted a proactive approach to
improving the health of employees. The judge looked for a clear explanation of
what action has been taken, who was involved, how and why as well as evidence
of positive outcomes for the organisation

Category judge: Cary
L Cooper

L Cooper is the professor of organisational psychology and health at the
Lancaster University Management School, pro-vice chancellor (external
relations) at Lancaster University, and the former deputy vice chancellor
(external relations) of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and
Technology (UMIST). Cooper is the author of more than 100 books on occupational
stress, women at work and industrial and organisational psychology. He is
founding editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior and co-editor of the
medical journal Stress and Health.

Category sponsor: Capita Health
Solutions is one of the UK’s
leading occupational health providers. We seek to be the most valued business partner
in risk-based and cost-effective workplace health risk management and to add
value to our clients’ business by protecting and enhancing employee health and

Shortlist of teams

South Wales Police

The team: Health, care and safety
No. In team: 17
No. in HR function: 52
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 5,290

About the organisation

Wales Police covers an area of about 812 square miles, which is home to almost
1.2 million people. The force consists of 3,319 officers, 1,749 members of
support staff and 231 police specials. Its financial resources for 2004/5
include a revenue budget of £217.7m and a capital budget of £18.4m.

What the organisation did

Merged occupational health, sickness absence and safety and welfare functions into
the healthcare and safety team

Introduced early intervention programmes to address long-term sickness absence

Worked in partnership with an MRI scanning facility

Developed a manual handling risk assessment programme

– Introduced a unified programme for the control of substances
hazardous to health.
This included an infection control/leaflet,
hepatitis B immunisation programme, and Blood, Sweat and Tears video.

Benefits and achievements

Renovation programme resulting in better facilities for staff and visitors

Improved diary management through electronic booking of appointments and
streamlining record storage

Early intervention through mediation and focus groups, where people management
issues were perceived to be at the root of sickness absence

Investment of £50,000 for early diagnosis led to a partnership developed to
provide MRI scans within 48 hours of referral

Outsourced counselling to ensure speedy access for staff to counsellors

– Worked in partnership with local NHS trusts and the Welsh National
Assembly to provide health checks and advice.

Prof Cary Cooper says:

Wales Police have done an excellent job in dealing with a whole range of issues
such as control of hazardous substances, infection control, and fast track
early intervention. The force has covered a very broad spectrum of issues in
trying to improve health while on a limited budget."

Preston Primary
Care Trust

The team: HR and Improving Working Lives

No. In team: 18
No. in HR function: 16
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 1,210

About the organisation

Primary Care Trust (PCT) was established on the 1
April 2002 as part of the Government’s reform of the NHS.
Serving about 150,000 people across Preston
and Longridge, the trust provides healthcare through
GPs, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists and employs 1,100 staff.


than a year ago, the Government announced the NHS Plan to improve the working
lives of all NHS staff. As a part of this, all NHS employers would be assessed
against the Improving Working Lives Standard. By April 2003, all employers
would be accredited as having put the standard into practice.

What the organisation did

Allocated a budget of £25,000 to the project

Got staff on board by setting up informal focus groups to discuss likes and
dislikes of working at the trust

Drew up an improving working lives (IWL) action plan

Formed a team – the IWL board – made up of a cross-section of staff

Introduced a flexible working policy as well as lifestyle assessments for all

Introduced a range of healthy living options for staff, including skills
workshops and reduced-fee gym memberships

Created a zero-tolerance group to look at violence against staff

Introduced healthy working initiatives and communicated them through
newsletters and staff presentations

Introduced a range of childcare initiatives

Benefits and achievements

Achieved the Improving Working Lives standard

Staff turnover reduced from 2.5 per cent to 1.04 per cent

Sickness absence rates at 3.86 per cent, well below rate set by the IWL board

Prof Cary Cooper says:

‘staff health pledge’ is a novel idea that required limited investment. They
delivered on a range of ideas to improve the management of health at work."

Sheffield City

The team: Corporate Human
No. in team: 7
No. in HR function: 195, 45 in CHR
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 19,800

About the organisation

City Council is a local authority and serves about 500,000 people. It provides
services through its own directly employed workforce and in partnership with
private sector and public sector providers. It aims to provide excellent
services to its communities.

What the organisation did

The corporate occupational health team, part of the corporate HR team, launched
two initiatives – ‘Tackling Stress Together’ and ‘Improving Services, Balancing
Lives’ – as a part of a strategic approach to stress management

Managers were encouraged to use appraisals and team meetings to identify and
deal with potential stress issues. The employees’ survey provided a good
indication for the key areas of concern

In September 2002, launched ‘Tackling Stress Together’

Successfully bid for external funding to deliver a second initiative to tackle
the causes of work-related stress and work-impacting stress. Launched
‘Improving Services, Balancing Lives’ in October 2003.

Benefits and achievements

Managers more confident and competent in preventing stress and employees feel
more comfortable raising stress issues with their managers

Initiatives such as ‘Tackling Stress Together’ have helped raise employee

In 2003, the Health and Safety Executive named the council a Beacon of stress

Although the ‘Improving Services, Balancing Lives’ initiative is less than
12-months old, 142 managers have already attended workshops, a work-life
balance intranet site was launched, and the corporate finance team has
successfully completed a pilot scheme.

Prof Cary Cooper says:

has a very good programme called ‘Tackling Stress Together’, as well as an
excellent flexible working arrangements programme."

Severn Trent Water

The team: Health and Safety
No. in team: 13
No. in HR function: 42
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 5,598

About the organisation

Trent Water (STW) is a part of Severn Trent plc, an international utility
services and environmental solutions company. STW is the world’s fourth largest
privately-owned water company, serving more than 8 million customers in the UK.
Every day, STW supplies 2 billion litres of drinking water and treats nearly 3
billion litres of waste water and sewage. Last year, the company made £209.1m

What the organisation did

Over the past three years, STW has attempted to increase the value of human
capital by reducing sickness absence levels and improving productivity of those
at work by:

– introducing a health and well-being scheme for all staff
based on Vielife programme

– using an innovative approach to the management of lifting
and handling injuries using best practice methods for task assessment and
design, training and fast-track physiotherapy referral, and monitoring

– using a management and assessment programme for employees
at risk from hand-arm vibration syndrome

– developing a computer-based training package for display
screen equipment, which uses storylines and graphics

– launching a range of other initiatives, including a cancer
awareness campaign and work-life balance policy.

Benefits and achievements

Sickness absence rate has dropped from 4.3 per cent in 1999-2000 to 3.3 per
cent, saving the company £1.4m

Increase in productivity is equivalent to 28,750 days of work across the
company, which is equivalent to £4.3m

Assuming linear reduction in turnover, good participation in the health
programme and a baseline turnover rate of 4.5 per cent, annualised turnover
would be expected to drop to 4.1 per cent in a year’s time

– Sickness absence savings of £660,000 per year.  

Prof Cary Cooper says:

"A comprehensive programme of managing health and
well-being at work."

Highly commended: Barclays Africa

Cary Cooper also wanted to give special recognition to Barclays Africa for its
work on HIV/AIDS with its employees.

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