Covid-19 pandemic-related health issues are now less of a focus for employers, but other health and wellbeing concerns have gone away. Nic Paton speaks to Dr Steve Iley of Jaguar Land Rover about how the manufacturer has set up a six Centres for Wellbeing to take its OH support to the next level.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 18 months ago a key priority of the occupational health (OH) team at manufacturing giant Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) was how to support people to get their Covid-19 jabs.
The pandemic may now be in the rear-view mirror, but ‘normal’ health and wellbeing issues have gone away. Quite the opposite in fact; a legacy of more musculoskeletal problems, long NHS waits, and mental ill health and anxiety are coming into focus – all now compounded by the cost-of-living crisis.
This why, as Dr Steve Iley, chief medical officer, human resources at JLR, explains, a key focus for this year is to build on its rollout of a new network of Centres for Wellbeing.
Dr Iley is hoping the centres will not only prove effective at supporting both the mental and physical health of JLR’s 25,000 UK workers, but help to build the occupational health evidence base around this sort of intervention.
Health and wellbeing
How to ensure wellbeing programmes are impactful and cost-effective
Three ways to ‘design out’ health and wellbeing risks
“The centres are the next phase of our wellbeing strategy, which was a bit derailed by Covid-19, but in the UK we’re now in the post-Covid world. Both the health and wellbeing team (which I lead) and our manufacturing director were very keen to do something more for our colleagues in our factories,” he tells OHW+.
The centres, currently on six JLR sites around the UK, have been deliberately designed to look and feel like the JLR head office in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
They also, in our increasingly digitalised working environment, act as physical health and wellbeing hubs.
“Among our manufacturing teams, engagement scores were much lower than the scores for the teams in the offices. Our view was all these digital apps are great, but they were not reaching those people, or they were reaching them much less,” Dr Iley explains.
“The centres are a dedicated physical space built exactly to the same specs as our head office in Gaydon. We’ve taken a modern luxury approach; using fittings and fixtures that look and feel nice. Each manufacturing site gave up some space to allow us to do this, so they have invested in their own people by giving us a proportion of the factory.
“We have also developed the ‘Centre for Wellbeing in a Box’ version, which is a modification and means we can run the programmes for our satellite sites, although it is not a dedicated facility.”
The centres have a range of zones within them, for example a gym-style space focused on rehabilitation and musculoskeletal health, which is under the leadership of a physiologist; individual consulting rooms for mental health support and similar activities; and a room where group activities, including behavioural classes and yoga, can be carried out. The centres are staffed by physiologists, counsellors, and psychologists.
“There are three entry points. The [first is the] traditional approach, which is your OH referral; [a] manager refers you in; we think you’d benefit from the class. We will send you down there after you have seen the OH nurse or doctor, and away you go,” explains Dr Iley.
“The other option is self-enrolment. You turn up because you would like some help and to see what can we do. The centres have ‘front desk executives’ or receptionists. So, if somebody walks in with no idea what it is or what to do, they will talk them through and help them book into classes.
“You can also book in digitally. We also use self-login kiosks, where can record your height, weight and blood pressure and they will give you some basic health advice. But they will also give some recommendations, for example, ‘based on the information you have given us, why don’t you go to the Centre for Wellbeing and try one of these classes?’”
Creating an evidence base
The results so far have been promising, Dr Iley says. “We do collect a lot of anonymised data. We want to prove it makes a difference or, if it doesn’t, that we learn from it and can try something else. So, every programme has a start and end questionnaire.”
Bringing people on site has also been shown to reduce some of the anxiety about returning to work and getting them re-familiarised with being on site generally” – Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover
The centres use the ‘Net Promoter Score’ metric, which asks respondents to rate the service on how likely they would be to recommend it to a friend or colleague.
“Our score is really high, +80. We’re really pleased; it shows that people like it. My view is, clinically, we can only prove some things but knowing people are liking it goes towards improving the overall engagement in the company.”
The return-to-work rates for participants on the rehabilitation and musculoskeletal programmes are also high. Of those who come in, the split is about half and half for those off and in work (with 54% still in work initially). By the end of the programme, the average is 78% in work.
“So, when managers ask, ‘is it working?’ we can show that we are helping 28% back to work.” says Dr Iley.
“We’re not running randomised controlled trials, so we can’t say for definite how much difference it is making. But we can say it is making a difference. And we can show engagement scores and improvements in mental health function. There is a correlation that says it is improving everyone who is coming through the programme. So, by definition, we think it is working very well for our people and our organisation.
“Bringing people on site has also been shown to reduce some of the anxiety about returning to work and getting them re-familiarised with being on-site generally. It gives them an opportunity to see their manager, sometimes go and see the team – but they’re not returning to work. So, it is breaking down that nervousness we can all feel about coming back,” he adds.
Learning points for OH
What lessons are there for other OH practitioners?
“The start of this was to work with managers; to really, truly understand what the need was. It was a jointly led project with our manufacturing director who supported us to get the budget to get this going. Without his support, getting the buy-in, this wouldn’t have happened,” says Dr Iley.
“Being clinically led, absolutely, was important. So, having clinicians help design the programme so there was an evidence base already there was certainly part of it. Being flexible or agile or willing to have a go and fail. We can be a bit reluctant to do that. I think a lot of organisations I’ve worked in, try and set up a massive programme and then it takes you too long and it’s too slow.
Being clinically led, absolutely, was important. Having clinicians help design the programme so there was an evidence base already there was certainly part of it. Being flexible or agile or willing to have a go and fail.”
“I think the term agile is misused but this is an ‘agile-ish’ approach. We’ll try a class, for example, and just see if it works. We did fail on one class in the trial – face-to-face group therapy. Maybe [it was] no surprise, a group of middle-aged line workers found it a bit much trying to do group therapy with their mates. So, we learnt quickly and no longer do that one – but we do other group classes,” Dr Iley says.
The next goal is to roll the network out globally. “We’re going out to overseas locations during this year. Another part of our strategy has been to aim to win an award and publish our results.
“We jointly won the Society for Occupational Medicine’s 2022 Outstanding Occupational Health Initiative. We’re also talking to some of the universities about how to publish some of our findings. We have the information but we need the academic expertise to publish, so we want to do a collaboration with somebody. I think OH needs to publish more data and share best practice or share what doesn’t work ” says Dr Iley.
“We have hosted and would love to host groups and share best practice, show other OH professionals what we’re doing. It’s not confidential information, nor is it rocket science – so people shouldn’t be afraid to try. It is a version of a lot of what we already know but built in a way that suits JLR.
“Some of the bits that work for us probably wouldn’t be as relevant for other organisations. Putting a really modern centre into a factory probably isn’t a problem that a lot of organisations have. But for us, the best compliment we had was an individual walked in and said, ‘oh this looks like Gaydon’. And it’s supposed to; that is the point.”