Improving the Health and Wellbeing of your People

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019

Guest blog by Laura Callaghan, WSP.

On Tuesday 2nd July, Pro Manchester members came together at WSP’s office on First Street to learn more about WSP’s wellbeing strategy, the inspiration behind it, and what the Health & Wellbeing team are doing in Manchester to help improve the wellbeing of their people. They established that a healthy workforce equates to a healthy business and it is important to put the wellbeing of your people at the forefront of your organisation.

WSP’s national health and wellbeing campaign across the UK is called Thrive and they aim to create a workplace that attracts, develops, engages and retains their people. Within Manchester, WSP have 10 fully trained Mental Health First Aiders available to support colleagues and spot the signs and symptoms of poor mental health along with a dedicated Health & Wellbeing team. They have various ongoing initiatives to promote a healthy mind and healthy body which include Mindfulness webinars, yoga/pilates classes, wellbeing walks, stress awareness courses, online wellbeing assessments and more.

The session was all about knowledge sharing. WSP provided attendees with ‘Top 10 Tips’ to enable the ideas shared in the session to be used as an inspiration mechanism to help organisations improve the health and wellbeing of their people.

  1. Get senior sponsorship. The business case is clear; it leads to better productivity, less stress and less sickness. However, wellbeing is for everyone at all levels. Be honest about your reasons for focusing on it and make sure that managers view it as something they can benefit from too, so that your efforts aren’t just seen as a way of preventing sickness and getting more out of people!
  2. Identify your risk factors. For example, consider sickness absence data, usage of your Employee Assistance Programme (if you have one), the number of Private Medical Insurance claims (if you offer PMI). Focus on where you can add most value and improve the areas that need it in your organisation.
  3. Set targets. Health and Wellbeing can be seen as ‘soft’ or ‘optional’. Setting measurable targets for the areas you have identified allows you to demonstrate tangible benefits and improvements.
  4. Identify your priorities. Health and Wellbeing is a big topic. Break it down in to smaller areas to focus on. For example, at WSP, we subcategorise it as follows: Physical, Mental, Nutritional, Social and Financial Wellbeing.
  5. Support your line managers. They are key in supporting your people, so make sure they are well prepared to do this e.g. through training.
  6. Identify champions. Set up a visible team of willing volunteers to role model and promote Health and Wellbeing initiatives.
  7. Ensure a holistic approach with your learning and development offering. Do you offer any proactive resilience training, as opposed to reactive stress management training? Do you offer any training to encourage people to work well together and to resolve conflict if it arises? Psychological safety and trust within teams are vital for wellbeing, so think about how you can allow (and encourage) people to bring their whole selves to work.
  8. Consider the type of behaviour you encourage and reward. Are people that work longer hours viewed more favourably? Are people encouraged to rest or go to the doctor when they are unwell? Are people supported if their stress has a negative impact on others? Create a welcoming environment where everyone can contribute and support each other.
  9. Focus on your comms. Many of us receive 100+ emails per day. Consider alternatives, such as a regular slot in meetings, where wellbeing information can be shared, and you can tell your people about upcoming events and initiatives.
  10. Emphasise the benefits to your people in their home life too. Encourage people to have a healthy attitude towards wellbeing outside of work, as well as during working hours.