Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards 2020 shortlist: Best musculoskeletal initiative

Occupational health & wellbeing Awards 2020

During September, we are recognising excellence in the delivery of occupational health by profiling the shortlisted entries for all six categories to this year’s Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards. Here are those that have been shortlisted for the “Best musculoskeletal initiative” category. Look out for the winners when they are revealed in October, and best of luck to you all.

Benenden Health

Not-for-profit healthcare organisation Benenden Health carried out a health consultation process for all of its 288 employees in response to significant absenteeism and presenteeism. It found that musculoskeletal problems were the fifth most common reason for reported absences.

It redeployed its health and wellbeing strategy, which was supported by a programme of activities guided by the organisation’s HR and organisational development department. One of the main goals of this was to try to address the conditions that are caused by sedentary lifestyles and to achieve a 7.5% reduction in sickness absence.

All staff were invited to a two-day “Living Our Values” programme, during which they created their own wellness action plan. A physical health action plan was also brought in, which included running active challenges throughout the year and raising awareness of lifestyle changes.

The organisation has run morning stretches, mini health assessments, circuit training, team walks and introduced a “dress for your day” initiative to encourage employees to wear active clothing to work, making exercise more appealing and achievable before, during and after work.

Overall absence rates have fallen by 8%, with an estimated saving of £9,000 per year – a 50% return on the £6,000 investment committed to in its health and wellbeing strategy.

Our judges praised the organisation for empowering employees to develop their own action plan and encouraging them to take control of their own wellbeing.

Bespoke Wellbeing and The Advocacy Project

Charity The Advocacy Project and its physiotherapy supplier Bespoke Wellbeing have worked together to conduct workplace assessments and promote musculoskeletal wellbeing for more than two years.

When The Advocacy Project’s staff began working from home at short notice earlier this year, often without sufficient equipment, Bespoke Wellbeing quickly adapted its services – which include treatment of existing conditions as well as preventative measures – to be able to reach employees regardless of their geographical location.

The solutions that were introduced included a digital home working guide, remote DSE assessments, webinars to discuss keeping well whilst working from home – including spine exercises, good working practices and mental health – and regular emails to signpost support materials.

Feedback had been extremely positive and Bespoke Wellbeing’s programme transformed the way employees were able to work. Staff morale, performance and sickness absence rates have all improved since the interventions were brought in.

The organisations were commended by our judges for taking a very proactive approach to addressing a vital concern about remote working and for the variety of interventions it put in place.

Comply Direct

In 2017, environmental compliance consultancy Comply Direct made it a priority to implement a formal health and wellbeing programme, in addition to the ad hoc health initiatives it already had in place. The overall aims of this were to enable its people to make informed lifestyle choices, improve their work-life balance and to motivate them towards achieving their health goals.

Following employee surveys and brainstorming sessions, it’s “A Better You” initiative was born. The multi-faceted programme includes membership to a “luxurious” health and wellbeing club, ad hoc group activities and competitions, an annual sporting challenge, workshops, activities acknowledging national days such as International Day of Happiness, a quarterly health and wellbeing newsletter, massages in the office and private medical insurance.

Employees have also been encouraged to organise their own challenges. For example, groups have taken part in the Manchester half marathon, Leeds Dragon Boat Race, Tough Mudder and weekly Parkrun events. The cost of sickness absence per employee reduced from £445 to £201, which our judges found impressive, and employees have reported exercising more, feeling more relaxed and feeling “looked after” by the organisation. Our judges also felt it was clear that the organisation supports staff in having active lifestyles.

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