January 30, 2017, by Zoë Goodwin
The School of Health Sciences shares best practice around staff wellbeing
The School of Health Sciences was the first at the University to develop a school-based health and wellbeing programme for staff, embedding workplace health and wellbeing within the school strategy and organisational structures and as such are currently informing wellbeing strategies for other schools and the wider University.
Associate Professor Dr Holly Blake has chaired the school Work, Health and Wellbeing committee since 2012. This hard work hasn’t gone without recognition, with the initiative being flagged by the British Heart Foundation as a case study of best practice, alongside featuring a testimonial from a staff member who has benefited from the programme.
In 2015 the school signed up to the Nottinghamshire Wellbeing@Work scheme led by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Public Health department. This scheme promotes the workplace as a setting to promote healthy lifestyle choices and a sustainable, healthy working culture, and is a tiered award scheme with applications for each level made in succession. The school received the Bronze Award in 2015, the Silver Award in 2016, and was mentioned in the Nottingham Post in February 2016.
The process was coordinated by Dr Holly Blake, who also received an individual Workplace Health Champions Award (2016) for over a decade of commitment to wellbeing at The University of Nottingham.
Information is communicated to school staff via the school website, a blog, and weekly news bulletins, while time is also dedicated to wellbeing activities at the yearly School Forums. Internal staff surveys have been repeated to highlight areas for future focus, and support and signposting for individuals is frequently provided by the committee chair and group members.
The school has demonstrated its commitment to wellbeing through a school Charter for Work, Health and Wellbeing, which was developed in collaboration with staff. This programme is an example of good practice in supporting wellbeing that has sustained over a 4-year period. It has contributed to the Athena Swan agenda and informed the recent development of wellbeing programmes at institutional level, and in other schools and faculties, including the School of Medicine and the Faculty of Engineering. The programme includes activities based around physical health, mental wellbeing, community engagement, social events, and collegiality and staff development related to wellbeing.
Just some of the wellbeing initiatives made available to staff include:
- Promoting physical health – offering general health checks, body MOTs and advice sessions, weight management initiatives, cycling and bike repair lessons, and a wide range of school-based physical activities from pedometer walking challenges to circuit training classes.
- Promoting positive mental wellbeing – including mini-massages, mindfulness meditation, and relaxation sessions including guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation.
- In-school coaching scheme – which provided regular one-to-one coaching sessions over a 6-week period, or alternatively small teams of staff could sign up for group coaching support.
- Workplace health resources and training – Online learning packages have been developed for staff training on core topics in workplace health, including physical activity, smoking, diet, musculoskeletal disorders and mental wellbeing. A dedicated website provides information around physical and mental health, equality and diversity, health and safety and occupational health, as well as signposting to university and community resources. Bespoke training sessions have been delivered in school, on stress resilience, change management, positive thinking, managing long-term conditions, and work-life balance.
- Training health champions – accredited training has been offered including Mental Health First Aid, Mental Wellbeing Awareness Training and the RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement.
- Line manager support – including provision of a toolkit for identifying and managing stress in teams, and face-to-face training on workplace stress and associated policies and guidance.
- Social events and general interest talks – a wide range of staff social events have been organised, including days out, sports events, quiz evenings, staff parties, coffee mornings, staff lunches and afternoon teas. Guest speakers have talked to staff about physical activity and mental wellbeing, local sports facilities, hobbies and special interests.
- Charity work, campaigns and other activities – funds have been raised through regular events including bake sales, Macmillan coffee mornings, charity bag collections, food bank collections, and fundraising support for charities.
For more information, and to get involved and share best practice around wellbeing at the University, please contact the People and Culture team.