Box 2 illustrates the potential impact of workplace health initiatives and Box 3 summarises a number of ways in which psychosocial working conditions can be improved for improved staff health.

Box 2: Evidence of effectiveness of workplace health initiatives 5

Listed below are the summary points from a review of scientific and grey literature to identify best practice and highlight the elements of effective initiatives from around the world.

  • Effective workplace health initiatives need to target multiple risk factors, specifically those that represent the highest disease burden in the region where the workplace is located.
  • Successful workplace health initiatives combine health education with changes in the physical and social workplace environment.
  • Workplace health initiatives need to be underpinned by management buy-in and employee ownership.
  • Workplace health initiatives need to be targeted to each unique workplace and cultural setting.
  • Workplace health initiatives should involve baseline testing and follow-up for ongoing evaluation and monitoring, and allow for employee feedback to facilitate programme improvement.
  • Effective workplace health initiatives will result in reduced employee absenteeism, increased employee productivity, reduced employer health costs, and increased employee job satisfaction.

Box 3: How to improve psychosocial working conditions for improved staff health and wellbeing 6

Psychosocial working conditions can be improved through:

  • greater employee control over their work
  • greater employee participation in decision-making
  • line management training
  • effective leadership and good relationships between leaders and their employees
  • engaging employees, ensuring they are committed to the organisation’s goals and motivated to contribute to its success
  • providing employees with the in-work training and development they need to develop job satisfaction
  • providing greater flexibility within a role to increase an employee’s sense of control and allow them to improve their work-life balance
  • reducing stress and improving mental health at work (the leading causes of sickness absence)
  • addressing the effort-reward imbalance.

The Health and Safety Executive provides a regulatory framework for workplace health and safety in Great Britain. Workplaces are advised to provide ‘welfare’ facilities (e.g. access to drinking water and toilets), promote a healthy working environment (e.g. good ventilation and temperature) and provide a safe workplace (e.g. maintain the premises and work equipment).B

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced evidence-based guidelines on workplace health, with a focus on organisational culture and the role of line managers (see Box 4 for a summary of the key recommendations).

Box 4: NICE guidance on workplace health and management practices 7

Organisational commitment – make health and wellbeing a core priority, value the strategic importance and benefits of a healthy workplace.

Physical work environment – statutory responsibilities for facilities and equipment.

Mental wellbeing at work – creating a supportive environment that enables employees to protect and enhance their own health and wellbeing.

Fairness and justice – ensuring unfair treatment of employees is addressed as a priority, treating each employee as an individual.

Participation and trust – encourage employees to have a voice, actively seek their contribution in decision-making.

Senior leadership – consistent leadership supporting employee health and wellbeing to act as role models and proactively challenge actions that may adversely affect employee health and wellbeing.

Role of managers – recognise and support the key role that line managers have in protecting and improving employee health and wellbeing, regularly seek line managers’ views on staff morale and staffing.

Leadership style of line managers – positive leadership style and avoidance of negative behaviour.

Training – ensure line managers receive training on the importance of maintaining people’s health and wellbeing at work.

Job design – including the importance of health and wellbeing in job descriptions.

The London Healthy Workplace Charter provides an evidence-based framework for action to support employer investment in staff wellbeing. The Charter works by recognising good practice at three levels of assessment across eight broad standards, as outlined in Box 5.

Box 5: London Healthy Workplace Charter 8

The Charter consists of three levels of assessment – ‘commitment’, ‘achievement’ and ‘excellence’.  At each level, employers are assessed across eight broad standards:

  • corporate support
  • health and safety
  • attendance management
  • physical activity
  • healthy eating
  • smoking cessation
  • substance misuse
  • mental health and wellbeing

Each of these standards are assessed primarily around leadership, culture and communication. Practical tools and guidance are provided for employers to support implementation.

 

 

Notes

  1. http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/workplace.htm
  2. http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/workplace.htm

References

  1. Collaborating for Health, “Workplace-health initiatives: evidence of effectiveness,” Collaborating for Health, 2011
  2. Public Health England, UCL Institute of Health Equity, “Local action on health inequalities: workplace interventions to improve health and wellbeing,” 2014
  3. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), “Workplace health: management practices (NG13),” Manchester, 2016
  4. Greater London Authority, “London Healthy Workplace Charter,” 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/self-assessment_framework.pdf (PDF document). [Accessed October 2016]
  5. Collaborating for Health, “Workplace-health initiatives: evidence of effectiveness,” Collaborating for Health, 2011
  6. Public Health England, UCL Institute of Health Equity, “Local action on health inequalities: workplace interventions to improve health and wellbeing,” 2014
  7. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), “Workplace health: management practices (NG13),” Manchester, 2016
  8. Greater London Authority, “London Healthy Workplace Charter,” 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/self-assessment_framework.pdf (PDF document). [Accessed October 2016]