The clock is ticking down to next month’s “big reveal” of the winners of the 2020 Occupational Health & Wellbeing Awards 2020. Ahead of that, we are during September celebrating the achievements and excellence of OH practitioners by profiling all our shortlisted entrants. Here, we recognise those that have been shortlisted for this year’s “Best wellbeing initiative” category. Very best of luck to you all.
BPP is a large private education business, which has been through a period of significant expansion over the past decade. It employs around 1,500 staff across the UK and beyond.
It was set to launch its new wellbeing strategy in early 2020, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it needed to revise its approach towards supporting and nurturing its employees to “take ownership” of their own wellbeing.
It created a wellbeing campaign, called “Stronger Together”, which aligned to BPP’s values and culture and aimed to keep employees connected and motivated. It included live webinars, vlogs, podcasts, guides and articles on important wellbeing topics, such as sleep, stress management and mental health. It also developed more light-hearted content such as “how to create your own face covering” and various team competitions.
Programmes specifically for line managers were also encompassed within the strategy, including training on ‘embodied resilience’ and adapting leadership styles during a crisis. The most recent pulse survey found that 94% of employees felt they were “communicated well with” and 93% said they were supported either “very effectively” or “effectively” by their line manager. One employee said the programme supported staff in feeling “stronger together now and in the future”.
BPP’s entry was commended by our judges for delivering tangible results and for making support available across different platforms.
The College of Policing
The nature of the policing profession often takes a toll on wellbeing. Psychological wellbeing in policing is significantly worse than the population as a whole, and around 600,000 policing days are lost per year due to psychological ill health, with the overall cost to forces estimated at £7m to £8m a year.
Oscar Kilo, the National Police Wellbeing Service, was formally launched under the College of Policing in 2019 and comprises police officers, staff, project professionals and occupational health advisers. It aims to help police forces and those who work in policing to build resilience, speak up when they need support, and offer personalised interventions.
The service provides tools and resources for police forces under eight “live services” – leadership for wellbeing; individual resilience; peer support for wellbeing; psychological risk management; trauma risk management; wellbeing at work; wellbeing outreach service; and physical wellbeing.
The service has also developed police-specific “Occupational Health Foundation Standards”, which have been incorporated into its Blue Light Wellbeing framework, and it is working on projects around fatigue and shift work, physical capability, digital capability and data analysis.
In 2019/20, the college undertook nine “Building Individual Resilience” events, two peer support classes, two wellbeing practitioner workshops, four post-incident support classes, five psychological follow-up courses and numerous other events.
Our judges felt the organisation had launched a thoughtful campaign and praised its “cleverly devised” interventions.
EKFB is a joint venture within the construction industry on the HS2 rail project. Recognising that the risk of suicide and poor mental health within the sector was higher than in other industries, especially with the pressured placed on staff during the lockdown earlier this year, it rapidly introduced a wellbeing package covering physical, mental, financial and social wellbeing.
The organisation’s wellbeing champions joined forced with its equality and diversity champions to develop a range of activities, with input from a health and wellbeing advisor from an external OH provider.
The programme included afternoon “café” sessions, where people could drop in and chat to colleagues and meet new staff, which it hoped would reduce feelings of loneliness. Physical activity was encouraged by twice weekly fitness sessions and family yoga classes.
Wellbeing updates were sent out each week and focused on topics such as healthy diets, quality sleep and coping financially, while a weekly mindfulness session was also introduced.
In recognition of the positive impact the programme has had champions have been nominated on several occasions through our peer nominated recognition process, while interest in becoming a wellbeing champion has increased.
Our judges argued the programme had created a great sense of camaraderie and positive feeling, and described it as “a human first approach that will have made a positive impact on staff”.
Food manufacturer Greencore found its colleagues were being affected by the coronavirus pandemic in different ways. Some worked throughout the lockdown as key workers, others had to balance remote working with home schooling, and some were classed as medically vulnerable and advised not to work at all.
To ensure staff were supported it launched a peer-to-peer welfare support service, called “Talk2Us”, which provided a confidential listening platform for those in work, working remotely, and those who were furloughed. It also enabled people who felt isolated to connect with other colleagues.
Volunteers were recruited and trained to provide a listening ear, to signpost to appropriate internal and external sources of support, provide a welfare call where appropriate and offer clear instructions that it was not a counselling service. To date, 14 employees – including the chief executive and HR director – have volunteered and are able to take calls and answer emails round their work schedules. A total of 15% of calls are referred to OH, 39% referred to HR, 23% referred to its GroceryAid support service and 23% of cases are closed on the call.
Our judges were impressed by the support that had been put in place, and the fact it could be something easily extended beyond the current pandemic period.
NHS England and NHS Improvement
As the pandemic began to unfold a “workforce cell” was set up within NHS England and NHS Improvement to respond to employees’ physical, emotional and practical needs at a time when demand and risk of Covid-19 exposure was high. Its approach was informed by how it handled other traumatic incidents, such as the London bombings in 2005.
Various workstreams to tackle different challenges were allocated to different groups. The projects undertaken by the groups included setting up a national helpline to listen and signpost staff to sources of support; developing virtual “common rooms” so staff could offer psychological support to one another, as well as one-on-one support from professionals; providing self-guided learning modules around sleep, resilience, wellbeing and anxiety; understanding the needs of black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues; and working on a resilience project with the Centre for Army Leadership.
The usual organisational barriers were ignored and representatives from Public Health England and Health Education England joined to provide data capture, evaluation and to support the development of screening tools for the next steps of recovery planning. To date more than 3,000 calls have been made to the helpline, 1,400 text conversations have taken place, and there have been 120,000 downloads of its self-guided learning app.
Our judges commended NHS England and NHS Improvement for developing a solution that addressed specific needs at an unprecedented time.