Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards 2020 shortlist: Best multidisciplinary initiative

All through September we are celebrating the achievements of OH practitioners by profiling the shortlisted entrants to this year’s Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards. Here, then, are the shortlisted entrants for the “Best multidisciplinary initiative” category. The winners will be revealed in October, so fingers crossed for you all.

Greencore

Greencore faced the challenge of keeping a range of employees – from those considered “key workers” and to those who had been placed on furlough – healthy and motivated throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

To reduce fear about being in the workplace – essential given the nature of its business as a food producer – a health and safety team worked tirelessly to ensure its premises were “Covid secure”, including temperature recording on side and regular communication about distancing measures.

Furloughed employees had welfare contract from their managers and were invited to join team meetings via video conferencing platforms to reduce feelings of isolation, while a peer-to-peer “Talk2Us” programme – formed of volunteers from across the business – allowed employees who were working from home to provide a listening ear to their colleagues and signpost them towards sources of support.

The service has been championed by the CEO and HR director, who have both volunteered to offer their time to the service. It has been implemented at a cost of around £200, in addition to costs associated with the time spent by the OH, IT and communications teams.

Our judges felt the service was “a great idea and collaborative approach to supporting engagement”.

John Lewis Partnership

When external research found 45% of its staff working in its distribution supply chain were getting less than seven hours’ sleep per day, the organisation launched the “Night Club” project, which consisted of a multidisciplinary team of in-house clinicians and nightshift operational stakeholders, to improve the quality of sleep for the night-shift workforce.

Set within a shipping container, the project ‘toured’ distribution centres to provide nightshift partners with an opportunity to speak directly with nutritionists, sleep specialists and the partnership’s own clinical case managers. Attendees could access healthy food and drinks and new technologies to aid sleep such as wearing “Re-timer Light Therapy goggles” and the use of medical-grade SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lamps. They also learned about their specific “chronotype” by completing a simple chronotyping questionnaire – this revealed whether they naturally predisposed to night work, day work or both, which the organisation says can help inform recruitment decision-making.

Sixty-five per cent of the 535 night-shift workers who participated said they would change their habits to improve their sleep, and there are plans to bring the opportunity to retail-facing employees. The project has also delivered a valuable CPD opportunity to the clinicians who took part, which was highly commended by our judges.

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College employs over 600 people, including 200 teaching staff. After recording increasing levels of sickness absence and mental health issues, it developed a health and wellbeing strategy, which was championed by its HR team with support at executive level.

Our judges praised the organisation for the breadth of schemes it introduced. Initiatives for staff included menopause awareness sessions, which included a private chatroom and the provision of support, networking and training; “Treatment Tuesday”, where beauty and complementary therapy students provided short treatments included massages and hand reflexology; diabetic and health assessments – which were taken up by 20% of staff; and healthy mind initiatives, including stress management and anxiety programmes.

Staff were also encouraged to get active by taking part in lunchtime walks, while a new benefits platform brought in perks such as a cycle to work scheme. Absence relating to mental health issues reduced by nearly 50%, while overall sickness absence decreased by 3% and enabled cost savings of around £160,000.

Surrey County Council

Because of the challenges brought by the pandemic, a significant number of Surrey County Council’s 10,000 staff (working in a myriad of roles) had to be redeployed to tackle the most pressing issues. For example, library staff were retrained to register deaths, while many began working at the NHS Seacole Centre that had been established for Covid-19 rehabilitation.

Colleagues from HR, organisational development, communications and an external HR provider began working together on a wellbeing strategy to suit employees’ diverse circumstances – many were juggling home working with schooling and some were coping with bereavement – and advice was sought from clinical experts.

A “Wellbeing Support Hub” was developed on its intranet, which included links to OH and employee assistance support services, charity resources and practical advice. Activities were outlined through a “Weekly Wellness Calendar” and support ranged from mental health and emotional wellbeing provision to professional services for support with advanced psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

It also focused on proactively identifying and supporting “hotspot” areas of the workforce particularly affected by the pandemic and these employees were offered interactive support. Additional bespoke support was provided for diverse staff groups via webinars with BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled colleagues.

The council saw no increase to staff sickness during the pandemic, and our judges said the programme was “very thoughtful” and praised the council for its fast implementation.

Swansea Bay University Health Board

As a very small team, the wellbeing service faced a significant challenge in supporting staff who had been adversely affected by the pandemic. It needed to meet an increased need for support with limited resources, whilst adhering to Covid-19 restrictions.

As a result, a steering group formed of senior managers from staff wellbeing, counselling, psychology, chaplaincy, learning and development and service improvement decided to re-engineer its wellbeing service. Firstly, they implemented joint working arrangements which allowed extended service delivery from 7am to 9pm even days a week, where it had previously been 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Therapists and counsellors worked together to develop clinical pathways for cases of trauma and bereavement, while the psychology department helped to provide wellbeing support for whole teams and developed a 12 week mindfulness programme. More than 100 senior staff were trained to use a trauma risk process to help identify the early signs of trauma in their teams with the aim of preventing mental health problems in the future.

It has now “cemented” joint working within the team and people across different disciplines are now working closely. Its services have raised the profile of the service across the health board and team members have benefited from learning new skills.

Our judges praised the involvement and coordination of a wide range of professionals and the compassionate approach taken for managing sensitive topics.

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