Important areas to consider when building a positive wellbeing environment can include:
A healthy working environment creates a positive atmosphere for your staff to thrive and deliver the best patient care says NHS England.
Providing working conditions that enable a positive working environment can increase the functionality of the workplace and increase employees’ satisfaction with their workplace. A growing body of evidence suggests that positive staff experience is associated with care provided to patients (Dawson, 2014).
Making sure the workplace functions well for staff
The World Health Organisation (WHO) stresses the importance of looking after staff’s basic human needs:
“Ensure rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat sufficient and healthy food, engage in physical activity, and stay in contact with family and friends.”
According to the 2020 NHS staff survey, 40% of staff reported that they did not have adequate materials, supplies and equipment to do their work. Improving the functionality of the work place can reduce the risk of accidents and injury and improve patients experience and safety.
Public Health England encourage employers to ensure that the following facilities are adequate to support staff:
- Eating facilities – including places to heat food
- Resting facilities
- Drinking facilities – and access to these throughout their work day
- Lighting and temperature
- Spaces to have confidential conversations
Provide staff with choice
Public Health England suggest that where possible employers should aim to engage staff in workplace design; as staff know the practicalities of their day-to-day role they can provide considerable insight.
This also allows for staff to feel consulted and have a greater sense of control within their work space. They suggest the use of focus groups, short opinion polls or using other innovative ways to gather staff perspectives.
Encourage physical activity and access to green space
Evidence suggests that access to green space can has a positive impact on mental health. The Space to Breathe study set out to examine the impact of green space on workplace wellbeing within the NHS. The study found that:
- Over four-fifths of staff said that would like to spend more time in green space while at work.
- Staff who regularly took work breaks in green space had significantly higher levels of wellbeing.
- The most common way in which staff spent time in green space was taking a walk in nature during their beak.
- Approximately half of staff stated that attractive green space was an important consideration for them when choosing where to work, suggesting it may impact recruitment and retention.
Covid-19 – Infection Prevention and Control in the workplace
Maintaining safe environments for both patients and staff is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information from the Health and Safety Executive offers up to date advice for employers on measures that can be taken within the workplace such as conducting risk assessments, hand washing hygiene and supporting vulnerable workers.
- NHS England offers advice and guidance on managing COVID-19 for clinicians and managers
- London Business Hub have created this checklist for employers
- Royal College of Nursing – Rest, rehydrate, refuel
- Centre for Sustainable Healthcare - Workplace Wellbeing and Green Space
- NHS Forest - Value of NHS green space for workplace wellbeing
Working from home can come with both benefits and challenges for staff.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) conducted a survey which found that overall, more people felt working from home was better for their health and wellbeing (45%), compared to around one third (29%) who thought working from home was worse for their health and wellbeing.
However, people who switched to working from home as a result of Covid-19 had experienced health and wellbeing impacts, with the most common being:
- Feeling less connected to colleagues (67%)
- Taking less exercise (46%)
- Developing musculoskeletal problems (39%)
- Disturbed sleep (37%)
In order to tackle these issues, the RSPH is encouraging employers to make sure that:
- All employees have access to mental health support to help them to cope with increased isolation and anxiety.
- All employees to have access to equipment and a remote assessment to support them with their physical health.
- Organisations to develop a culture which encourages employees to block their work communications outside of work hours.
- 7 simple tips to tackle working from home
- Staff from Mind.org.uk share their top tips
- Empowering disabled staff through flexible working
- Tax relief for employers working from home
Coaching and mentoring programmes are development approaches which typically involve one-to-one conversations to help enhance employees’ skills, knowledge and career progression. The terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ are often used interchangeably, however there are some differences:
A thinking partnership and someone to share ideas with in a structured setting
Usually more structured towards certain goals or areas of development
Helps staff member to identify their own solutions
Coaching is not determined by the experience level of the coach, it can also be delivered by a peer
On-going relationship, often more long-term and takes a broader view of the person
Can be formal or informal
The mentor will share their ideas and experience
Mentor is usually more experienced and qualified than the client
There are many benefits of coaching and mentoring programmes within health and social care settings.
Research conducted within the NHS found that these schemes facilitated improvements for both employees and the wider organisation. It offers employees an opportunity to enhance work performance and feel valued within their role, which in turn has a positive effect on patient care. The bi-directional benefits of these programmes are increasingly recognised, with positives experiences reported by both mentors and mentees. These schemes can also enable wider cultural change, which can further promote staff wellbeing.
Inclusive mentoring schemes
Some mentoring/coaching schemes are focussed on speciality areas, for example they may focus on different professions (e.g. nursing) or for under-represented groups (e.g. BAME, LGBTQ+, disability). Some mentoring schemes also aim to promote inclusion and equality within leadership roles in the NHS.
Type of scheme where someone in a more senior position is mentored by someone more junior than themselves. The aim is to promote leaders’ understanding of the challenges faced by those in more junior roles while also developing the leadership skills of employees in more junior position. These schemes usually link senior mentees with junior mentors from minority groups.
Best practice guidelines:
The NHS London Leadership has produced a guide outlining tips and best practice for those aiming to get involved in the delivery of coaching or mentoring.
Coaching and Mentory for leaders (Our NHS People) allows NHS and Social Care leaders to access coaching support
NHS England - Looking after you too - Coaching support for those in primary care settings working in clinical or none clinical roles
Reciprocal Mentoring for Inclusion programme - Leadership Academy Mentoring schemes for those from minority groups
A preliminary case study written by two mentors within a BAME reverse mentoring scheme in SLAM NHS Trust
A wellbeing champion is any member of staff who actively promotes positive mental health and wellbeing within their team by:
- Organising informal catch ups within the team
- Encouraging participation in current wellbeing activities within the team
- Encouraging the team to input their ideas for promoting wellbeing
- Raising issues with senior staff on behalf of the wider team
- Liaising with senior staff to introduce training for teams that require additional support
- Creating a team display board to celebrate successes and to share ideas
- Communicating with colleagues within team to find out their different interests and pastimes
- Organising social activities outside of work, i.e. team away days
- Encouraging a culture of kindness, appreciation and compassion
Wellbeing Champion training courses provide:
- An understanding of common mental health issues
- Knowledge and confidence to advocate for mental health awareness
- Ability to spot signs of mental ill health
- Skills to support positive wellbeing
Learn more about other various wellbeing roles for your team.
Psychological First Aid
An initial trauma response intervention with the goal to promote safety, stabilise and connect individuals to help and resources.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Psychological First Aid as:
“A humane, supportive and practical response to people suffering exposure to serious stressors and who may need support”.
Psychological First Aid involves:
Providing practical care and support where necessary
Helping people address basic needs and concerns
Helping people connect to information, services and social supports
Comforting people and helping them to feel calm
Reducing distress and fostering adaptive coping
Protecting people from further harm
Mental Health First Aid
This training teaches people how to identify anyone who is developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of a mental health problem, or in a mental health crisis.
Mental Health First Aid involves:
An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of a range of mental health issues
Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress using the Mental Health First Aid action plan
Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether through self-help resources, internal support such as EAP, or external sources such as their GP
An understanding of how to keep themselves safe while performing their duties.
Frontline staff and volunteers across England can access a psychological first aid training course by Public Health England.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England are the largest provider of Mental Health First Aid training in the UK and Europe - find out more here.
The Charlie Waller Trust offers training to a range of organisations aiming to help people spot the warning signs for mental health issues and provide them with practical strategies to take care of their own and others’ mental wellbeing - find out more here.