Champions Round Table
Health and Wellbeing Sector
A recent survey published by CIPD found that the average level of employee absence (6.6 days per employee per year) has increased slightly since 2016 (6.3 days per employee), although longer-term data indicates a weak downward trend.
With 98% of businesses in Chesterfield being SMEs, employee wellbeing and retention is critical. Equally healthy and well-motivated employees can have a positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of a business.
For those that do get sick however or require care, with increasing staff shortages and lack of funding within the NHS, immediate support and treatment may be difficult to access.
Hosted by One to One Support Services, this month’s round table, organised by Destination Chesterfield in conjunction with the Derbyshire Times, brought together key figures from Chesterfield’s health and wellbeing sector to discuss two key issues – how do we prevent workplace stress and ill health and how do we encourage young people to consider a career in the healthcare sector.
AB – Ashleigh Booker – Head of Content, Derbyshire Times
LM – Laura McNeice – HR Department, Chesterfield Royal Hospital
JC – Jenny Clarke – HR Department, Chesterfield Royal Hospital
AH – Abigail Hamlin – Marketing Assistant, One to One Support Services
JS – Jamie Spalding – Lead Service Manager, One to One Support Services
CL – Chris Lawton – Employer and Learner Liaison Officer, One to One Support Services
BC – Ben Cope – Business Relationship Manager, College of Health and Social Care at the University of Derby
AW – Aaron White – Health and Wellbeing Society, Chesterfield College
LR – Lucy Robinson – Director of Resources, East Midlands Chamber / NHS Governor
IG – Ian Godfrey – Managing Director, Solved-it! Business Solutions
IW – Ian Waller – Assistant Director for Health and Wellbeing, Chesterfield Borough Council
How can businesses play a proactive role in supporting the wellbeing and health of their employees?
LR – Flexible working and term-time contracts plays a huge part. Businesses can massively support employees by playing a more proactive role in being flexible.
AW – We’ve recently introduced a Cycle to Work scheme at Chesterfield College. We’ve got six members of staff that have taken on the programme, and they got a 30% reduction in the cost of their bike.
JC – We also run the Cycle to Work scheme, it’s a great incentive for employees to buy a bike and do some physical activity.
LR – A lot of companies are bringing in personal trainers at the end of the day to do a fitness session with their employees.
AH – We include all the details of events that people could be taking part in in our monthly memo that we send out to staff and encourage people to take part.
LR – There is a first aid course for stress levels where people can be qualified on the ground, and employees can come to talk to them about their stress levels.
IG – We’ve got a mindfulness and wellbeing programme within the workplace.
JC – Derbyshire County Council offers a course for mental health first aiders.
LR – Stress levels and stress are changing due to us being constantly on the go available by mobile phone and email. There’s so much pressure on us all and it’s interesting to see companies introducing things so that people are able to have discussions about it.
IG – Senior Managers are all supportive of improving mindfulness and wellbeing when it ticks a box. However, when the chips are down, they can be the ones causing the stress. If they managed better, there wouldn’t be so much need for help with stress. If we have a happy workforce, people work better.
BC – A lot of companies have these health and wellbeing policies and they talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? For example, if a manager encourages an employee to exercise for a couple of hours during work time, how would they really view that when they saw that person away from their desk? Businesses need to realise that once you’ve done that exercise, your mental wellbeing is better to be able to take on work.
LM – One of my key roles in the hospital is looking after people that have been on long term sick. It’s my role to interact with the managers and get them on board with signposting them to any of the relevant services we can offer. If we can look after staff and do right by them, we will hopefully retain them which saves us money on future recruitment.
JS – It’s about being approachable too. If you’ve got someone that is really difficult to talk to, people aren’t going to say anything.
LR – Appraisals and one-to-one discussions are also very useful. People have to feel supported when they make decisions, and this is all easier to achieve within small businesses.
JS – It’s about being fluid with policies as well and being able to review and change them.
BC – Smaller employers can’t afford to ignore the health and wellbeing of their employees because if they lose them, it’s going to really hurt that business
IG – For smaller businesses it’s about having approachability. Good managers will listen to their employees and encourage activity out of work. It’s a lot easier for managers in smaller companies to say: ‘I know we usually go at 4pm on a Friday, but we’re leaving at 3pm and going to the pub, the first round is on me.’ I know that can’t happen every Friday, but things like that really bring a team together.
LM – You’ll definitely get more out of your staff if you offer flexibility – people will enjoy working for you.
What free resources and activities are there for organisations and individuals to get involved with as part of a workplace wellbeing programme?
BC – Our student body at the University of Derby is very active within communities. A lot of the students go out and befriend older people as part of a charity and that helps with their own personal health and wellbeing as well as the people they are befriending.
LR – Becoming a school governor enables employees to take time out of the workplace, recognising that they will not only be helping a school but also improving their management skills.
IW –The sports service at Chesterfield Borough Council operates a volunteer programme that is hugely successful.
BC – The University of Derby is actually the biggest online educational provider behind Open University. As part of that, we run a lot of Massive Open Online Courses (MMOCs) which are free and relevant to health and wellbeing in the workplace. I am personally studying one of the courses myself – Depression – A Compassionate View. We have really good retention rates on these courses. They are not accredited courses but you do get digital badges at the end to show that you’ve completed the course. https://www.derby.ac.uk/online/free-courses
JC – There are a lot of free tools and resources for employers at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/business/healthy-workplaces
AW – Chesterfield College has been given £160,000 worth of funding from Sport England to reduce the number of students who are completing less than 30 minutes of activity a week. We’ve got a range of projects to try and help increase physical activity within the college. We find out who they are and the students that are in the priority groups are initially targeted where they are asked to complete a survey which determines their current levels of physical activity and mental wellbeing. Inactive students are then engaged in meaningful activity that can improve physical and mental wellbeing.
How do we encourage people to work and develop careers in the health and care sector?
BC – There is such a shortage of nurses and doctors locally and nationally, and that’s something we need to address. If you’re coming in from school at a lower level, the jobs tend to be quite low paid and, because of that, they’re seen as unattractive. We need to make sure people know that once they’re in those roles, they can progress. We have apprenticeships now which give people the opportunity to progress which is helping to make these careers more attractive.
AW – I think what’s really attractive about higher level apprenticeships is the fact that you can upskill while you work giving you the chance to learn more. For employers, it’s just about getting in touch with providers to see how we can help you.
JC – We’ve got nearly 200 volunteers now at the hospital and that number is steadily increasing. Volunteers range from 16-year-olds right up to people in their 80s. Some people want to give back after their career and the younger volunteers want a bit of work experience before they decide that working in the sector is right for them.
AW – From an educational point of view, we look at getting all our students on work placements. We have a lot of volunteering projects and curriculum projects. Our health and social care students run an event called Connect 5 which aims to increase their awareness of health and wellbeing and they do that as part of their course.
LR – We need to introduce the sector to children at a young age and talk about the benefits.
JC – At the hospital, we send a team from our educational centre into schools, Derbyshire-wide, once a month to hold events and speak to students about working in the hospital.
CL – One of the main courses we do is Level 1 Health and Social Care which is fully funded – the main criteria is that they have to be over 19 at the start of that academic year and unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week. The course runs three days a week for four weeks and as well as health and social care, we also do some dementia safeguarding and help with Maths, English and ICT skills.
JS – We’ve got about 29 people that have come through the course to work with us – some have been promoted to key roles and senior levels within a short space of time too, so it definitely works.
BC – In terms of being more open about the sector, we need to be pushing all of the careers in health and social care, not just nursing. Often, it’s the people that haven’t done so well in school that are going into caring roles. We should also be pushing the academically stronger students to look at the opportunities within the sector.
AW – When I speak to students about opportunities within the NHS, they can usually only name around four careers, there is probably closer to 500. We need to increase their knowledge of what they can actually do.
IG – Promotion and marketing work needs to be done to push the positive things about working in the social care sector.
BC – We’re seeing a lot of people wanting career changes now. People are perhaps paying off their mortgage and are looking for a way to give back – something a bit more rewarding.
IG – It’s one of the few sectors that you feel you could be able to pick up and drop out of roles as your life choices happen. People can move into the private side of social care and then back into public and you can grow yourself a career within the sector.
LR – There is always going to be a need for the sector and it isn’t really going to be affected by Brexit. It’s one of the few sectors that’s actually quite stable.
BC – Also, there’s an increasing demand for care with our ageing population.
AW – If we can get employers in the sector to come and carry out mock interviews with students, it makes it more real for them. We want to include as much employer interactivity as we can.
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