Personnel Today Awards 2020: Health & Wellbeing Award shortlist

2019 Personnel Today Awards ceremony
The South Western Railway team pick up their Health & Wellbeing award at the 2019 Personnel Today Awards ceremony

As we prepare to celebrate the Personnel Today Awards this month, it’s time to showcase those organisations that made the shortlists for each category. Here we profile seven organisations that are up for the Health & Wellbeing Award.

The Co-op

With stores open for up to 17 hours per day, the 5,650 staff that make up the Co-op’s logistics team play a vital role in providing a convenient shopping experience. Around a quarter of these staff work at night and many nightshift workers have trouble sleeping.

It partnered with global health charity The Wellcome Trust and engagement consultancy The Liminal Space to create ‘Night Club’, which brings to together night shift workers with sleep researchers and aims improve the quality of their sleep.

Personnel Today Awards 2020

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Staff are able to talk with sleep specialists from Oxford University and access sleep research to develop their understanding of the link between sleep and mental wellbeing. They are also educated about how improving their sleep and energy levels will make them feel happier and more productive.

The touring programme has so far visited 1,680 staff. There are now over 40 trained sleep health champions across Co-op Logistics, whose remit is to promote the benefits of sleep health to their colleagues.

Half who experienced Night Club completed a feedback survey. Of these, more than a third have committed to change their habits improve their sleep health and half agreed that taking part in Night Club has had a positive impact on their working life.

Lloyds Banking Group

After an engagement survey identified that some members of its people and property team felt disconnected and that their wellbeing was not a priority to the company, Lloyds Banking Group launched an interactive wellbeing experience to bring staff together, provide health assessments and promote healthier lifestyles.

The six-week programme included nutritional advice, called The Energy Plan, delivered by a top performance nutritionist; Bupa health assessments for all staff; blood pressure and cholesterol checks with immediate results; access to a health and wellbeing app; and team exercises.

Some 462 people and property team colleagues attended an onsite health assessment, with 98% of available appointments utilised, while 75% of those who responded to a survey after the programme stated they had made lifestyle changes as a result.

Feedback was extremely positive. One respondent said: “So great to have the time and opportunity to focus on me. Don’t have the time to look after me as always juggling work and kids so really welcomed the time.”

Loughborough University

Loughborough University completely overhauled its occupational health service from one that was considered ineffective, to one that has seen a 300% increase in referrals due to its improved reputation.

An occupational health and wellbeing manager was appointed to lead, stabilise and develop the service, while an external OH provider is on call to respond to demand when required.

The team got better at managing its data, which allowed it to identify the top reasons for referral. This then enabled it to develop issue-specific solutions, including an on-site physiotherapy service to help reduce musculoskeletal-related absences and the ability to self-refer to its counselling service to support those with mental health concerns.

The service was bolstered further when the Covid-19 pandemic hit: a mental health support book was produced in collaboration with a local charity, while an app centred round its ‘five pillars of wellbeing’ was launched in May.

Engagement with the service has increased substantially and it is now regarded as an asset to the university, rather than a problem.

NHS England and NHS Improvement

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to unfold, NHS chief people officer Prerana Issar set up a workforce cell to help the wider NHS plan and respond to the physical, emotional and practical needs of staff, underpinned by the lessons it learnt while dealing with the London Bombings and the Ebola virus.

Several workstreams were formed, looking at: practical and logistical needs such as food and accommodation; setting up national support helplines for staff; psychological support options; self-help options; behaviours to enhance wellbeing while under pressure; connections between regional colleagues; and communications about health and wellbeing offers.

The usual organisational barriers were ignored and colleagues from Public Health England and Health Education England helped provide best practice in data capture, evaluation and support the development of screening tools for the next steps of recovery planning.

To date the teams have seen over 3,000 calls to the helpline, 1,400 text conversations, 120,000 downloads of the app and 135,000 visitors to the website. Having access to this data has helped NHS England and NHS Improvement understand what staff need now, how they can tailor and adapt their model of support and what their next steps need to be.

As one HR director noted: “This is like a pair of arms being put around me and I can see whether I am doing the right thing locally.”

North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College

Employing over 600 people, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College found sickness absence was creeping up and a rising number of staff were reporting mental health concerns.

The HR team developed the college’s first Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which is being continually improved and promoted via a formal communications plan.

A key aspect of the strategy included raising awareness of mental health issues, with all staff expected to work towards a mental health qualification. This has so far been completed by approximately 20% of its workforce.

Initiatives include menopause awareness sessions; ‘Treatment Tuesday’, which involves complementary beauty and holistic therapy treatments provided by students; diabetic health assessment clinics; healthy mind activities; physical activity campaigns; and a resilience training programme.

Absence relating to mental health issues reduced by nearly 50%, while overall sickness absence has reduced by 3%, saving around £160,000. The college has also seen a 25% increase in occupational health referrals and an overall increase in early intervention.

South Western Railway

With a comprehensive physical health programme already in place, 2019 Health & Wellbeing Award winners South Western Railway made mental health the focus of 2019. This need was reiterated by its Investors in People accreditation report which advised it to do more to aid mental health.

It set itself the target of reducing sickness absence by at least 0.5%, increasing engagement scores, reducing staff turnover and improving staff performance.

A health and wellbeing team was formed, encompassing 11 experts, to shape its approach. Mental health first aid training was introduced and has been completed by 70 people across five business areas, and various events from tea and cake fundraisers to a Blue Monday awareness day were held.

Physical health was also kept high on the agenda by the creation of alcohol awareness events; in-house physiotherapy sessions; and ‘pop-up’ health kiosks to provide general health checks.

In future, the rail operator plans to produce bite-sized videos on topics including smoking and healthy eating; wellbeing checks for ‘high risk’ individuals and coffee ‘roulette’ as a way of connecting people.

Long-term sickness absence has fallen by around 7% and short-term sickness absence is down by nearly 6%.

University of Bradford

With 60% of its workforce over the age of 40 and women representing half of its staff, the University of Bradford felt supporting women through the menopause was key to retaining them. It was also important that its work was not only about supporting those going through the menopause transition, but also other staff who may experience similar hormonal changes due to medical treatments or gender reassignment.

It designed a menopause and hormonal changes toolkit including guidance and helpful information for staff and line managers. The pack included a symptom checklist, conversation plan for employees, reasonable adjustment guide and more.

The documents were launched under the strapline “Let’s talk about…”, which is now being used for all new wellbeing initiatives.

It also arranged menopause awareness sessions with input from staff networks to ensure the content was appropriate and culturally sensitive for groups from Indian and Pakistani heritage.

Almost 200 people attended one of the awareness sessions and staff overwhelming felt they had educated them and empowered them to have discussions with their line managers about the support they needed. Staff are now willing and keen to engage in discussions and are making an active contribution to conversations on how to improve the service.

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