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Promising practices for health and wellbeing at work

By ianfielder, Aug 23 2018 11:38AM

Research demonstrates that the support of wellbeing in the workplace has a positive impact on staff, business and organisations. It includes benefits in terms of reduced absenteeism and presenteeism as well as improved productivity.


Whilst the landscape of health and wellbeing interventions is a broad one, it can be difficult to understand 'what works': or rather, the confidence which we should place in a particular intervention that it will have a positive impact on staff health and wellbeing outcomes. This research project was commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) to begin to address this gap. The study aimed to support an understanding of the landscape of workplace wellbeing interventions and the extent and quality of evidence being collected. We hope it will enable organisations to consider better whether interventions are having a positive health outcome and how to capture and gauge the evidence.


The report presents the findings related to a set of case studies collected via an open portal. The case studies were assessed against Nesta standards of evidence. They show promising examples of how to develop an evidence base for workplace health and wellbeing initiatives across different workplace wellbeing areas.


England's business and employer communities have an exciting and unrivalled opportunity to create a step change in how they support and evidence not only the health and productivity of their workforce, but, by so doing, the health of the nation as a whole.


Key Findings

The study graded evidence of a relatively small number of interventions above a Nesta level 2.

Findings highlight interesting examples of promising practice. Substantial levels of evidence for health and wellbeing outcomes were not greatly forthcoming.


This does not mean necessarily that these interventions are less effective, but that academically rigorous methods of data collection or evaluation are not being used to underline their effectiveness.

Organisations collected a variety of data types to explore the impact of their interventions.

The data provided included health measures, business indicators, and other forms of feedback. Some interventions were able to collect data about the direct change in individuals' health and wellbeing outcomes, others focused more on perceptions and confidence in dealing with health issues.

Mental Health featured strongly amongst the submissions received.

A strong number of submissions were received on Mental Health showing the current focus on the issue by organisations. We were also encouraged to see submissions on the subjects of domestic violence, sleep and menopause. No submissions were received specifically on the subject of financial resilience or smoking. This may not necessarily mean that these topics do not feature in the wellbeing landscape, only that that they did not feature in the submission body.


The majority of case studies were submitted by providers of wellbeing.

There was a strong representation of case studies from workplace wellbeing providers. A third however were submitted by employers, highlighting the in-house resource being contributed to staff wellbeing. Submissions were received from both small and large organisations.


Recommendations

Small and medium sized organisations can learn from their peers to find approaches that match their size and aspirations.

The increasing focus on workplace wellbeing provision should not come at the expense of effective workplace management cultures.


The design and implementation of evaluation approaches should be borne in mind from the outset.

Qualitative and subjective evaluation methods of feedback as well as quantitative and objective data sets may support a better understanding of employee experiences of workplace wellbeing.

Organisations should not put off using basic evaluation tools to begin with: what gets measured gets done.



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