Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards shortlist: OH team of the year (public sector)

Here we profile the finalists in the Occupational health team of the year (public sector) category in the Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards 2019. The winner will be announced in October.

British Heart Foundation

After its staff engagement survey found that 46% of its workforce felt unable to agree with the statement that BHF “cared about them”, the charity began prioritising both staff mental health and wellbeing.

It developed a wellbeing programme – called “Live well, work well” – around five pillars: healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellbeing, changing habits and leadership.

Mental health first aid training (MHFA) was rolled out and, so far, MHFA volunteers have supported more than 300 employees. An interactive map was introduced to help staff find their nearest MHFA volunteer, and those in the role have access to a network to share their experiences.

On “Time to Talk Day”, its director of people and organisational development sent a personalised email to each of its 4,000 staff asking “How are you?”, which BHF said helped open up an organisation-wide conversation about mental health.

A “Take a break” campaign was launched to encourage retail staff to take some time away from their roles, while resilience was improved through mindfulness sessions and financial management courses.

Now 67% of staff would be comfortable disclosing a mental health issue to their manager, more than 350 managers have been trained in mental health awareness and absenteeism is down from 7.3 to 5.4 days.

BHF has seen the proportion of people reporting that it cares about its people increasing from 54% to 60%, a reduction in absenteeism from 7.3 to 5.4 days and a decrease in the organisations’ average body mass index from 27.8 to 26.8 in one year.


Dyfed-Powys Police

Despite experiencing a 50% clinical reduction in staffing, a change in management and an increase in demand being placed upon its services, Dyfed-Powys Police’s occupational health team has upped the ante and is consistently delivering a high level of service to the organisation’s workforce.

The department requires each discipline within the team, ranging from the admin support to a multi-disciplinary clinical input to operate extremely effectively and work well as a team. Despite limited resources, it says they are able to meet the majority of their deadlines regardless of the circumstances.

It holds regular one-to-one management and welfare meetings where individuals  have the opportunity to voice what is working well for them and any concerns. By communicating in this way and by simply “looking out” for each other, the team now feel more valued and respected, which it says allows individuals to perform to their highest ability and offer the best possible service to its staff.

By ensuring that everybody in the team is empowered to make decisions, the team says it is performing well in some of the most challenging of circumstances.


Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust had a challenging few years, as shown in its staff engagement scores, high rates of sickness absence – a third of which are due to stress, anxiety and depression – and recruitment and retention issues.

To combat this, it transformed its wellbeing offer. The first campaign, called ‘But first a drink’, saw employees – as well as patients – encouraged to keep hydrated at work. Thousands of free water bottles were handed out and refill stations were installed across the trust.

Aware that staff spent too much time sitting in meetings, it introduced ‘Meet on your feet’ campaign to encourage more activity and provided colour-coded maps of routes around the hospitals with an approximate duration and step count.

It also launched an ‘employee festival’ to celebrate employees’ hard work, with wellbeing benefits on offer including massages, nutrition advice and hydration points.

Finally, it has begun training its first cohort of mental health first aiders to help with early intervention. Mental health will now feature on its staff induction programme to create a more open culture around the trust.

Although the new programmes are in their infancy, the trust hopes to see a reduction in sickness absence rates over the next 12 months.


University of Huddersfield

A 2017 staff survey revealed an overall reduction in staff wellbeing, which prompted the OH team to tackle the issues head on in order to improve this key staff metric. Like many organisations in the higher education sector, workload and financial pressure were frequent problems behind work-related stress.

It sought accreditation from the National Workplace Wellbeing Charter, which is awarded to organisations with a recognisable commitment to improving the lives of those who work there. To get the accreditation, it was assessed against eight metrics, including absence management, physical activity and healthy eating.

Particularly strong areas of good practice were found in its absence management, health and safety and physical activity policies. Support for those who are unwell was regarded as “excellent” by the accrediting body and there is a strong health and safety culture which is embedded in working practices and goes beyond the legislative requirements, including efficient reporting systems and training opportunities.

Its focus on addressing stress and mental ill health was also recognised and steps are being taken including training mental health first aiders, delivering wider training opportunities and support through occupational health to improve employees’ wellbeing scores further.

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