The Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards 2020 celebrate the achievements of OH practitioners and employers in developing healthier working practices and excellence in the delivery of OH and wellbeing support. Throughout September we are profiling this year’s shortlisted entries, and here we recognise those that have been shortlisted for the “OH team of the year (private sector)”. Good luck to you all ahead of the winners being revealed next month.
Lloyds Banking Group
In 2017 Lloyds Banking Group formed a dedicated People & Property Wellbeing Team to organise divisional wellbeing activities and help colleagues feel their best. However, by 2019, members indicated that colleagues felt disconnected, were experiencing little or no face-to-face contact during the week as many worked remotely, and said their own health and wellbeing was being neglected because of heavy workloads.
The solution was a six-week wellbeing focus period to coincide with World Mental Health Day (which takes place on 10 October), which was available for all colleagues to take part in. This involved group mindfulness and walking sessions, either virtually or at a “hub”, to get people away from their desks and to interact socially with colleagues; targeted nutritional advice from experts through sessions called “The Energy Plan”; and on-site health assessments provided by Bupa across 11 days.
Colleagues were also given access to “Bupa Boost”, a health and wellbeing app, to set achievable goals. A total of 700 colleagues participated in The Energy Plan sessions – roughly 46% of the People & Property workforce – and 100% of those said they would recommend it. Our judges described the nutrition programme as “brilliant”.
Almost all of the available Bupa appointments were utilised by 462 P&P staff and 100% said they would recommend onsite health assessments. Three-quarters of respondents to Lloyds Banking Group’s survey said they had made lifestyle changes following the programme.
The university admitted in its entry that there was a very significant gap between its OH service and good practice. It had no perceived value and low credibility, and was untrusted by its users. The organisation had the mammoth task of building up its credibility again.
The senior leadership team challenged the head of health and safety to develop a “world class” OH function. Dr Steve Boorman was commissioned to identify the improvements needed and an occupational health and wellbeing manager was appointed to lead, stabilise and develop the improved service, which would operate alongside an external provider to meet demand.
One of the main problems that was tackled was reporting. Referrals were closely monitored and the data showed a three-way split between mental health, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and “other” reasons for referral. This allowed it to implement issue-specific solutions, such as an on-site physiotherapy service for MSDs and an expansion of the student counselling service to include employees.
Other changes included putting a new employee assistance provider in place, the launch of a health and wellbeing steering group and website, a full health and wellbeing needs assessment for each employee and smoking cessation support. A special mental health and wellbeing programme was launched when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed.
Our judges were extremely impressed by the university’s efforts to rebuild trust in the OH team, which resulted in OH referrals increasing by 300% and bringing employees who had been absent from the business for over two years back to work.
Corporate wellbeing business Office Athletes has been working with technology firm Arm for several years – and was a winner in the 2019 Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards – and this year developed a comprehensive virtual package of support for employees working from home during the coronavirus lockdown.
Firstly, it developed a 15-page guide to wellbeing, which covered staying well while working remotely, workstation set-up advice, workstation exercises, a nutrition guide and signposting to mental health support.
Virtual one-on-one video calls for desk assessments, nutrition appointments, physio appointments and fitness advice were also made available, as well as live and offline health and fitness classes. The virtual timetable of classes included yoga, Pilates, physiotherapy and cookery demonstrations, and were made available across different time zones. Overall employees accessed 88.5 hours of exercise classes and 100+ live exercise sessions, a level of take-up that impressed our judges.
Each member of Arm’s UK and Ireland workforce, roughly 4,000 people, were also personally emailed by the Office Athletes team to provide advice, information and signpost to further sources of support. These included standalone guides on workstation set up, exercise, sleep, nutrition and mental health, which were more in depth than its initial home working wellbeing guide.
Santander ensures health and wellbeing is championed from the very top of the organisation, with its chief executive and senior leaders, many of whom are “wellbeing ambassadors”, regularly speaking about the importance of wellbeing in order to normalise what is sometimes seen as an uncomfortable subject.
In January, the banking group launched a wellbeing hub; a digital platform to bring together all the support it has offer, such as its mental wellbeing app, gym passes, financial wellbeing information, advice on stress, sleep and achieving a healthy work-life balance and podcasts. The hub was accessed more than 11,000 times within its first month and to date has been accessed around 70,000 times.
Around 3,000 people managers have also attended its “Positive about Mental Health” training to ensure they are empowered to promote positive wellbeing each day and recognise when staff need additional support. They are held accountable for staff wellbeing, with it considered a priority under Santander’s performance management framework, and all managers are asked to ask about their team’s wellbeing regularly through team meetings and one-to-one sessions.
Other initiatives that caught the eyes of our judges was the bank’s mental wellbeing employee-led network, which has 2,500 members and is its fastest-growing employee network; mental wellbeing network champions stationed across its main locations; webinars on financial wellbeing and digital detoxing; and a personal resilience portal that focuses on body image and sleep.
South Western Railway
Recognising that poor weather, union strikes, aggravated rail users and fatalities on the line – of which there has been a 14% increase since 2017 – are a risk to mental health, which is a leading cause of sickness absence in its workforce, South Western Railway wanted to make its approach to tackling mental health problems as comprehensive as its programme of physical health interventions.
By introducing several new wellbeing initiatives, SWR’s health and wellbeing team sought to reduce sickness absence by 0.5%, increase employee engagement scores and reduce staff turnover. The company introduced mental health first aid (MHFA) training to act as “first responders” for colleagues. It now has 70 trained MHFAs across five key business areas, and staff can report that they need help using a comprehensive but anonymous reporting system.
The MHFAs also hold at least two mental health events per year. This year activities have included alcohol awareness days, tea and cake fundraisers and activities around Blue Monday. Signposting to sources of advice is achieved through posters, flyers and an intranet page. Other initiatives have included a “positivity playlist”, the provision of mental health diaries for staff to track their stress levels and a “board of positivity” across its sites with material to make staff smile.
Our judges commended the company for reducing long-term sickness absence by 7%, well beyond its target, and for achieving a £500,000 reduction in sickness absence costs.