About this resource
This resource is part of the Guidance for better workplace wellbeing
This section builds on findings from a systematic review, and outlines five key principles on how to implement workplace health and wellbeing initiatives and programmes.
You can also read the full review article in the journal Social Science and Medicine.
The principles are underpinned by a review of the relevant scientific literature, encompassing:
separate scientific studies looking at 85 separate workplace wellbeing initiatives, involving over 1600 people
peer-reviewed journals have published these findings
people were interviewed for the practice illustrations used
Communication: principle one
A key thread running through many successful initiatives is ongoing communication about wellbeing. This is important for three reasons.
- Communication is a two-way process. Communication enables organisations to tailor wellbeing activities to specific workplaces. This involves continually learning from what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be modified.
- Regular communication about wellbeing reinforces the message that wellbeing is important, and that something is being done. It also allows you to communicate successes.
- Regular communication allows you to highlight how the different parts are elements of the same wellbeing programme. You probably have multiple parts of your wellbeing programme; this enables people to see there is a coherent and systematic approach to health and wellbeing.
It is important to remember that communicating about wellbeing initiatives does set expectations, so there needs to be follow-through on tangible actions. For more information on how to do this – see the section on sustaining wellbeing.
Keep communication consultative and inclusive
It can involve formal structures like wellbeing committees. It can also be included in everyday activities. For example, in one workplace, discussions of how to improve workplace wellbeing were incorporated into weekly Kaizen groups.
Practical examples of communication in action
Please click on any organisation to read their case study in full.
- An informal approach to communicating about wellbeing
The approach to communicating about employee wellbeing at Abbotswood Lodge in the care sector is framed very informally. Looking after workers’ mental health is seen as a natural extension of care for its residents. This is underpinned by notions of family and community providing informal support rather than formalised wellbeing activities.
We wouldn’t do like a workshop but everybody is quite open actually about their mental health…You are not worried about talking to anyone about anything, you can speak about any worries you have got with any member of staff and we are all supportive of each other really.
- Creating and using a staff intranet
Assure, an international law firm, developed a one-stop wellbeing shop through the creation of an intranet Hub that signposted tangible resources. The organisation also has employee led interest groups who were are used to gather feedback and input ideas into the wellbeing committee.
So, certainly I do think having more open communication around [wellbeing and mental health organisational support] and consistency, is so important. Because before [the intranet hub] it was a here, there and everywhere, the information, and you didn’t really quite know where you were going for various things. And it was just, it was a bit complicated.
- Communicating with key decision-makers
Graham, a medium-sized family-owned construction, asset management and investment business, illustrates the need for those leading health and wellbeing programmes to communicate not just with front line workers, but also with key decision-makers:
I have a regular meeting with each of the senior people individually and collectively. So there is that board meeting and at that board meeting we bring up some key points and HR come along and I talk about some of the key points there. But we have discussed them beforehand.
So recently I gave a bit of a presentation to the business and what I am saying here is, at the end of the year going forward to the next couple of years, here are the key things that I believe are key people issues in this business.
Here are the reasons why I believe they are key and here is what we are going to do, what I am suggesting we should do in the next year and key actions we are going to do. I am a great believer in not asking them to, eat the whole elephant, its painting a picture, you paint a picture of what the issues, you paint a picture of what we are going to do to try to help them and why it’s going to help them. And then we are trying to say well actually these are the things, all of that is all based on what people are saying.
To share messages about new management processes the firm also uses video to reach a large and geographically dispersed workforce:
People aren’t really aware of it or aware of what it can do for them. But I think there are processes going through at the moment of creating training videos and awareness stuff that that will hopefully change.
- Finding the right people to communicate with
The need to communicate and consult with those with the right knowledge is illustrated in Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure, where there are formal structures of continuous improvement groups and delivery forums to serve as bridges for devising and ensuring delivery of their wellbeing approaches.
We’ve got representatives from HR on our wellbeing forum now. Previously we didn’t, so that was a gap that we identified, that we were discussing all this stuff but HR weren’t there to either defend what we were suggesting or actually saying you can’t do that because of legislation or whatever it is.
So we’ve now got a member of the HR team on the wellbeing forum because we can sit as a group of individuals and say ah that would be great if we could do this and we could do that and do the other, we then go back to HR and they say well firstly we haven’t got the budget for that and secondly we haven’t got the resource. So ok, we thought it was a great idea, and it might well have been but it doesn’t fit with our HR strategy. So this is one of the reasons I wanted to bring it back into the occupational health and wellbeing continuous improvement group because that’s chaired by our HR Director.
Coherence: principle two
It is important to ensure workplace health and wellbeing programmes are coherent. This means that there is a consistent narrative on the importance of wellbeing: this needs to be evident to front line workers; line and middle managers; and senior managers.
This coherence comes from having elements of the programme that are self-reinforcing and integrated. It requires not working against each other, or duplicating something that was introduced in the recent past. Clearly, communication is important for a coherent approach.
Coherence means programme elements working together
Coherence does not mean:
- a lack of diversity in the elements of a wellbeing programme
- that people are prevented from trying things out for themselves in a more spontaneous manner.
The emphasis is more that the elements are managed as a whole. Our practice examples show that there are multiple ways to achieve coherence.
An example of elements working together is a workplace in which a physical activity programme also involved group activities – so that the group activities helped develop better social relations in the workplace. Our practice examples show more extensive approaches. These differ in terms of formality, and according to context and workplace culture.
Practical examples of coherence in action
Please click on any organisation to read their case study in full.
- Using performance management tools
At the more structured end of the continuum are Graham and Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure. These companies achieve coherence across different wellbeing initiatives by using performance management tools.
Graham – a medium-sized, family-owned construction, asset management and investment business – transformed their performance appraisal process. They did this using performance appraisal as a vehicle to discuss wellbeing. The appraisal discussion happens in the context of Graham’s broader values, which in themselves are promoted through other initiatives e.g. around fairness and respect.
Yes well we have the Fair Initiative, but that’s another driver and its fairness inclusion and respect and how everyone should be treated the same which is what it stands for. So that’s another driver of how you are expected to behave as an employee which is quite nice. It doesn’t matter if you are a manager, a director or just an employee you are treated the same.
Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure is a construction, infrastructure and regeneration organisation. It drives the integration of health and wellbeing into management practices through a self-assessment management tool. This provides standards and guidance for continuous improvement.
The guidance is aimed to assist in business units and projects/offices to demonstrate they are meeting the minimum requirements of the Morgan Sindall occupational health and wellbeing strategy and our integrated management system requirements.
It talks people through the criteria and that this management tool is not intended as an audit but more of a self-assessment for people to use as an improvement tool. There’s a bit more narrative that goes on that but basically …. if you’re bronze you’re meeting legal requirements, if you’re silver you’re meeting the bronze requirements plus exceeding some of the standards as listed. And then if you’re gold, you’ve met the bronze and silver but you’re showing evidence of excellence and innovation. So that’s our capture mechanism really to think of their practice
- Using governance structures to achieve coherence
Harbour and Assure show how governance structures can be used to integrate different activities. Harbour – a property and regeneration for social purpose company – facilitate sharing and learning about best wellbeing practices between subsidiary companies across a complex and large organisation. This is done while driving integration through a single group wellbeing strategy and governance structure. This is aligned with the organisational values, including support and innovation.
I’m just in the back end of putting a strategy together and selling it to the organisation and we’re starting to try out a few initiatives that work at a group level, because at local level, at the operating company level there’s quite a lot of stuff going on….. In some areas they’re really good at it and they do a lot of work around mental health, they do a lot of work around providing physical wellbeing initiatives, they do diet clubs, they do all sorts of healthy eating stuff and then in some pockets of the organisation they’re not so good at it at all.
So what we’re trying to do here is to not only set a group strategy, but also then filter it down, get some wellbeing champions in place, do a lot more training around it, giving people confidence to deal with some of the more common wellbeing issues, but also trying out initiatives in their own area, which very much depends on their own demographics because it’s very diverse.
Assure is an international law firm specialising in and structured around a range of sectors. Assure’s approach to wellbeing includes many elements that are initiated ‘on the ground’ by staff themselves, rather than centrally planned by HR or other function. To achieve coherence in their action plans around mental health they used a steering group:
So my suggestion was to have a steering group that brought together all of those different elements, so responsible business or CSR, HR, facilities, the various diversity networks, to bring them together so that we’re doing something that’s kind of joined up and that’s got an internal brand. So people know what wellbeing means, rather than just kind of the bits that touch them, whether it’s, you know, flexible working or, it might be, using the physio on site.
There’s lots going on but, I guess, it wasn’t really recognised as all being part of the same kind of objective really. And so, yes, the first bit was about streamlining that and bringing the right people involved into it, and just opening up the communication of it. So that, rather than saying oh do you fancy joining this? We’re having a seminar on coping with stress. And you think, well someone somewhere has set that up, you know, where’s it come from and how well have we kind of communicated that to the rest of the business? It kind of seemed to be a bit luck, you’d learn about these things based on, you know, just happening to be in the right office at the right time or speaking to the right people.
- Using training for better integration
Abbottswood Lodge’s informal and open workplace culture is integrated by offering a wide range of opportunities to learn and develop. Naturally, as staff progress they can move on to new roles and leave the organisation. But this turnover is seen as positive and aligned with the care home’s approach to staff wellbeing and development, as well as the service they provide.
There’s a really high turnover of staff in care homes so if somebody stayed here three to four years while they were training themselves to do something different, that’s not altogether bad I don’t think… And I’d rather have a youngster here for two to three years that are really motivated and ambitious to move on.
- Taking a holistic approach
For Resolve, a regional accountancy practice, coherence comes from a holistic idea of wellness. This is a ‘commitment’ to wellbeing under which are clustered a wide range of different activities, employment practices and support functions that make up the strands of wellbeing.
And the first thing I got the partners to do, was commit to a wellbeing commitment. So we haven’t got a policy, it’s not a, you must do this or there is trouble. It was a commitment that we would look after, at the moment it’s six strands of employee wellbeing, which, basically, when added together, look after the whole person, be that at work, at home, in their social situation, with their families, financially, etc. So it was kind of a total thing. It wasn’t just focusing on what we do in the workplace.
Commitment: principle three
Commitment is about perseverance. The evidence shows that, in many cases, it is possible to overcome things that can get in the way of successfully implementing a workplace health and wellbeing programme.
Things that can get in the way of commitment include:
- employee, line manager or senior manager scepticism or cynicism about wellbeing
- mistrust between managers and employees
- at the outset, having wellbeing services or practices available that are less than optimal or a lack of capability or resources to deliver wellbeing programmes
- workload or other things that seem a higher priority that wellbeing.
Commitment to wellbeing means navigating these types of adverse starting conditions.
Commitment involves learning and adaptation, so that obstacles can be overcome. This shows the importance of having in place processes, whether formal or informal, to capture what is working and how, or what is not working and needs to be changed. This can include, for example, regular meetings about wellbeing initiatives with those participating.
Our case studies illustrate the importance of learning, adaptation and continuous improvement.
Practical examples of commitment in action
Please click on any organisation to read their case study in full.
- using performance appraisal to improve commitment
Graham – a medium-sized, family-owned construction, asset management and investment business – have transformed their performance appraisal. They have done this during what they describe as an ongoing journey. Organisational learning processes have been core to this transformation. The firm use piloting, evaluating, and learning as an embedded method for process improvement.
…we have got all of the senior managers together and I worked with a consultant. Her and I agree what we are going to do, and we have a workshop and we talk about what the issues are. We let the senior managers talk about all their problems … And obviously we listen to what they are saying and we are making changes based on that.
So we are listening and thinking OK we have got to make this adapt so best practice and all that is all great but its got to adapt and be translated into what is going to make sense to our business. And what we can do now, we can’t do everything now but we pick what we can do and then we get all the senior managers on board we then start to write and talk to managers and talk to employees.
Learning continues after first phase of roll-out:
…so whenever we start to do something we play with it we experiment and then we say is that actually working. … we don’t come out with a big fanfare to the whole business and say ta da here is [our new process] everyone is doing this.
We actually get the reason, we get the thinking done behind it, we get the buy in from the senior team, we get managers involved and then we get employees and managers taking part. We hold it up, tweak it here and there and we have workshops and we have focus groups, we have surveys and we come back and say what has it actually told us.
What do people need to change and what we have actually done by doing that is we have created things that, the ownership becomes the business. The people in the business think actually that’s our system and its been what we needed to do, its not something that HR just introduced.
After the introduction of the new appraisal process feedback suggest changes were still needed:
Things that we have had is a number of different meetings so we maybe had three or four in the year and employees were saying this is too many and we were knocked that down…… people are saying I don’t need to see my manager four times a year I only need to see them two so we are creating a bit of flexibility.
- Taking a flexible and focussed approach
Assure is an international law firm specialising in, and structured around, a range of sectors. Assure learned through reviewing what is currently in place about how they could improve their approach to new initiatives: not to introduce too much and lose focus.
And, you know, in truth, my view is that there have been occasions where we’ve done that, where someone said, oh yes, that’s a great idea. But actually, it’s kind of all been a bit disjointed and I think that’s where having everyone discuss these things together, has helped put a bit of a lid on some of those more off the wall ideas, which, ultimately, you know, it’s hard to gauge to what extent that’s really having an impact or is impacting the right way.
But they also realised that it was important to recognise that not everyone wants to take part in everything. So Assure’s approach was to put in place a range of things that would attract interest, and allow people to engage when they were ready:
…it’s about realising that, you know, some people just won’t be interested in this sort of thing. And I think it’s about being really clear that, if you don’t want to, that’s fine, there are other options. It’s the same as, if you don’t want to be involved in alcohol awareness month, you know, if it’s not something that you’re interested in, that’s absolutely fine. It’s not a kind of one size fits all.
It’s just about saying, these are the different things on offer and if any of these resonate with you and you’d like to be involved, that’s fine. I think it’s an important point, that we don’t kind of force it down people’s throats, if you like, because I think once you, you know, if you create that culture, then people feel, god, there’s always something going on and I’m always being pressured to attend and get involved, then I think you can kind of lose it early on.
So I think that’s a big point as well, it’s kind of, it needs to be voluntary and it needs to be, and that’s where the feedback for this, you know, the calendar of events and the calendar of different focuses will be really important. Because there are some where people just say, I just, it wasn’t of interest and whatever, you know, we want to hear about it. So yes, constantly speaking to people about what their thoughts are, I think, will be a big part of, a big challenge as well.
- Evaluating and piloting approaches
Through evaluating pilots such as the ‘Fitbit challenge’, Harbour – a property and regeneration for social purpose company – identified initiatives that produce gains in health and wellbeing. It did this while also enabling team-based engagement in wellbeing.
You know we had several really good success stories but overall everybody found their heart rate came down, they were feeling better in themselves, they felt their fitness had improved and they really enjoyed the team aspect of it.
So away from the physical benefits you know that coming together as a team, they set up WhatsApp groups amongst themselves to kind of motivate each other and say what they’d be doing and you know all their successes. So it was a win on many levels and we’d really like to kind of capture something like that again.
For me it was about seeing some of the group initiatives could work much more than. I mean obviously the health benefits are a great addition to it but I really wanted to see whether you could get people together in their operating teams, in their operating companies to kind of challenge each other and get something like that going.
- Creating an open and inclusive workplace
The commitment to learning at Abbottswood Lodge care home means that staff are encouraged to contribute their ideas for improving:
This commitment means an openness to experimentation. It also means being able to accept and recognise that things don’t always work. Improvement in the working environment is a developmental process that all staff can contribute to.
…if we can think of a better way of doing something, we then discuss it with the manager and we put it into practice. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but as they have always said we won’t know until we try. So we are all involved in the day to day running of the place really. ….because everybody brings something and we do take our life experiences with us where ever we go don’t we?
- Learning from mistakes and continuous improvement
Changes introduced by Resolve, a regional accountancy practice, are underpinned by a wellbeing commitment. This means continuing to learn from mistakes and acknowledging areas where they can extend or improve provision.
So the indications are all positive, you know, we know this is the right thing, the right track to be on. The activities that we offer and how that looks will vary. We will continue to evolve those as we get more and more feedback and information, and kind of, you know, monitor the stats. And if anything starts to slip we’ll know we’re not quite doing enough in that space. So we know we’re in the right direction, it’s just, yes, keeping it alive really.
The need to adapt and continually develop the wellbeing program offered at Resolve is also informed by an awareness of the competitive edge it can give them in retaining and recruiting staff, recognising it is not a journey with an endpoint, but a process of continual development.
…it’s not a journey with a destination as such, because the world continues to change, but you have to keep challenging yourself all the time, as to how you can be that bit more different and how you can make working life as enjoyable as it can be.
Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure also illustrates a continuous improvement process through learning and adaptation. The company actively evaluates and reflects upon the scope of its wellbeing decision making fora, adapting to ensure a broad remit that reflects changing needs.
We’ve now realised, at the back end of 2018, that actually it was becoming a mental health forum not a wellbeing forum, so at the last meeting we had in November we refocused the group’s attention on what we call seven enablers to wellbeing and making sure that the group didn’t focus just on mental health but actually a bigger picture of wellbeing and that it was still in line with the original continuous improvement group. So that’s where our focus is over the next three or four months, maybe the next two or three meetings, is to make sure that we widen our thinking, not just around mental health but overall wellbeing and then bring it in line with the wellbeing continuous improvement group.
Consistency: principle four
Consistency is about ensuring compatibility with existing processes, systems and organisational norms; but only where existing processes, systems and organisational norms are not toxic for health and wellbeing.
Attaining consistency with existing ways of doing things reduces the scope for conflict and resistance. To be effective, any new wellbeing initiative has to add to what is already in place: where new wellbeing initiatives simply replicate existing, but informal practices, they create no extra benefit. For example, where formal peer support programmes simply mimic existing, informal social supports.
In our case studies, there are illustrations of how consistency can be achieved between a wellbeing programme and other aspects of organisational functioning, through building on existing people management practices, organisational capabilities and fitting with existing norms.
Practical examples of consistency in action
Please click on any organisation to read their case study in full.
- Building on existing people management practice
Both Resolve and Graham show how it is possible to building on existing people management practices.
At Resolve, a regional accounting firm, the comprehensive approach to staff wellbeing is consistent with existing practices, such as appraisal and time-management procedures:
…because people are quite timesheet focussed, we have got a wellbeing code on our timesheets because obviously the financial group are trying to get people to do lots of chargeable time. But we’re actually saying that actually they need to focus on their wellbeing as well…We’ve got a group wellbeing code.
- Using the appraisal process to improve consistency
Graham – a medium-sized, family-owned construction, asset management and investment business – have transformed their performance appraisal during what they describe as an ongoing journey. They used this new appraisal process as the core management process for adding on a range of specific training on, health, wellbeing, support and leadership capability.
this thinking which became Connect Plus but around this concept of whole person development. So if you are going to be the best version of yourself if you are going to be the most productive successful person you have got to have the right skills to do the job. You have got to have the right procedures or resilience and you have got to be physically and mentally well. So only when those three things are working at their maximum are you going to be your best are, we going to see the highest productivity, are we going to see the highest engagement. And you can’t not act on one you have got to look at all three of them. So we want to come up with a system that is going to help us to analyse where each person was in each of those areas and come up with a personal plan. Put that plan into place and then review if it was actually making a difference to that person.
- Integrating wellbeing into health and safety components
Both Harbour and Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure built on their existing capabilities in workplace safety.
Building on the health and safety components, Harbour – a property and regeneration for social purpose company – integrated wellbeing into its estates strategy. They did this through a raft of innovative uses of physical office space. This served employee work needs, while also providing flexible space for local health and wellbeing initiatives.
The head of corporate facilities…the actual work that he does is group wide. So he looks after the estates that we have and he had been having, there had been a conversation by our group executive around the estate what do we need to do. And also our direct health and safety they had jointly put a paper together around how we can review our estate and what we need to do. And so they had a strong wellbeing element just around with regards to the work environment. So that’s been fantastic.
Utilising learning from their successful approach to safety, Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure – a construction, infrastructure and regeneration organisation – grafted their wellbeing approach onto existing continuous improvement, governance, delivery and monitoring structures, processes and procedures.
The HSE [Health & Safety Executive] have a maturity assessment that you could look at to judge how you were managing safety and are you mature or have you got a long way to go. So again, we’ve run those for a couple of years and I got involved with it last year. And when we looked at it was very much safety driven and we’ve suggested as part of our wellbeing forum that actually we could use this for not just health and safety, we could use it for environment and quality.
- Fitting wellbeing programmes with existing workplace norms
Abbottswood Lodge and Assure illustrate how wellbeing programmes can fit with existing workplace norms.
Abbottswood Lodge’s approach to wellbeing is consistent with and follows from their role as a residential care home for people with learning disabilities. Activities that the home organise for residents’ wellbeing can also provide opportunities for staff, while strengthening relationships amongst staff and residents.
…there is no hierarchy sort of thing with the staff and residents and staff between themselves. It’s a very laid-back place… We do yoga and stuff on a Tuesday all staff and residents included it’s really nice… When you are having a really good day it can positively affect them I suppose, regarding them just seeing you happy, they love it.
A key challenge faced by the international law firm Assure was that there were often too many health and wellbeing options and services being sold into firms. It was important for them to think about how services fit with the organisation, and the profile of the staff:
So I think consistency of messaging and clarity, I suppose. You know, it’s not trying to, you know, someone said, oh I heard this really good thing where you can, you put treadmills under people’s desks and they can exercise whilst they’re at work.
I said, oh, where’s that from? And they were like, I’m pretty sure it’s Google that does it. And I was like, OK. It’s about realising what our limits are I think, and realising that we’re not a tech company. In fact, you know, we’re in the legal industry, …..I think it’s knowing the limitations and realising that we’re not going to ever, people aren’t going to turn up in hoodies and, you know, ride around the office on skateboards, that’s not what we’re about.
It’s about realising what works for us and finding something that is, you know, is genuinely a strategy that the majority of the people here feel that works, rather than just works for a business somewhere and we’ve uplifted it and just kind of implemented it blindly. I think that’s important.
Creativity: principle five
Creating new social norms, or organisational processes, that include wellbeing is necessary where existing norms or processes are toxic to wellbeing. Examples of such toxicity include:
- social norms that tolerate bullying
- encourage unsafe working practices
- working excessive hours.
Toxic norms and processes need to be challenged and replaced with norms and processes that promote wellbeing, potentially including health and safety. For example, in a workplace that introduced specialist expert to support for social workers, the specialist challenged the social workers’ existing ways of working, but also had to adapt her own ways of working to embed the initiative.
Several of our case studies show the importance of challenging inappropriate norms around health and wellbeing and creating new ones.
Practical examples of consistency in action
Please click on any organisation to read their case study in full.
- Creating values that potentially challenge sector norms
At Abbottswood Lodge – a residential home for people with learning disabilities – it was necessary to challenge harmful norms that pervade the care sector. They did this by valuing staff and establishing a culture where staff can develop and improve the quality of care for residents, and their own working lives.
If you are valued and you are told you are doing a good job on a day to day basis and things like that, it makes you better and it makes you want to work better if you know what I mean. Where other care homes that don’t bother, you are still just a number to them…
- Creating a mental health aware workplace
Employee reticence to disclose mental health issues led Harbour – a property and regeneration for social purpose company – to train and equip mental health first aiders. These first aiders signpost colleagues to pathways to access mental health services and support. This led to an increase in mental health reporting and therefore, early intervention.
We found when managers were having return to works with employees is that they have actually said well previously if I have got a mental health issue I would just say I was off sick with general sickness or coughs colds. But now I actually feel more comfortable and confident in saying to my line manager yes I have got a mental health issue, this has been triggered recently.
So we are finding that people are actually being more honest about that and so that we can direct them to the relevant support within the business. So although we have actually found their proportion of mental health illness has increased they are actually seeing that as a positive because people are talking about it more and making use of the mental health first aiders and being more open about it.
- Creating a culture of role-modelling and showing incremental success
Mindful of a traditional culture that can be resistant to wellbeing initiatives, Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure challenged manager attitudes around working patterns, by taking an incremental approach of showing success and role modelling to encourage take up of informally-arranged flexible working.
Some line managers have been very slow to catch up and up until a year or so ago refused to do it at all because they didn’t believe it worked. These sorts of things certainly in a construction businesses I have found people watch for other people to try it and see. And you know this is a journey we have been on for three nearly four years now, so how we have diffused it is really getting those people who lead by example, show that it works, who really believe in it and role model it. And then the people are more cynical tend to follow.
- Creating opportunities for HR to make the case for wellbeing
At Resolve, a regional accounting firm, the HR culture was initially transactional, not actively supporting a wellbeing agenda and responding to issues as they arose rather than proactively. This approach changed with the introduction of a new HR team that successfully made the case for change.
So it was about May 2017, I stood in front of them all and gave them the numbers and, I suppose, essentially, bribed them. And said, look, if you say you’re not going to sign up to this, you’re saying that you don’t care about the wellbeing of your people. And I think it was the realisation, I think they all knew, they’re all behind it, you know, they all support it. But I think it was the kind of, the jolt that was needed, the honesty that was needed. Because I think things had not been how they wanted it for some time but they didn’t have that kind of catalyst, if you like.
The HR function changed to one that strategically led the firm’s approach to wellbeing. This involved an open dialogue with managers and staff about how they could support and develop staff, challenging the existing culture and shifting to a more proactive HR culture.
…you know, particularly in private practice, HR is a support function and it’s kind of, you know, we’re just, we’re only there if we need you, we’ll let you know when we need you, kind of thing. So, and that was very much the culture when I first joined. It’s not the situation now but it was very much the culture when I joined.
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