Does your business sub-contract a lot of its work or work with partners with different levels of wellbeing awareness to yours? This practitioner case study from a large infrastructure project shows several significant steps taken by an organisation trying to push the agenda in a whole sector.
Shortly after B joined the construction firm, leading on occupational health and wellbeing, she absorbed the safety remit too. In construction there are very well-developed processes and structures around safety. So, the main elements of her role were to drive project strategy, look after the occupational health function, as well as design the wellbeing programmes. B drove health and wellbeing up the project agenda to senior management. As a result, senior management wellbeing expectations rose and filtered down to those working on the ground.
B is managing wellbeing within a very challenging context with multiple businesses involved and the persistence of some historical attitudes and practices in the sector that are not conducive to wellbeing. B takes responsibility for influencing and educating contractors on their wellbeing journey. The large infrastructure project sets expectations of how wellbeing should be managed, through service level agreements and key performance indicators, however they are largely reliant on their relationships with contractors and suppliers. There are large main works contractors that have pre-existing health and wellbeing practices but also a lot of the smaller contractors do not have strategies or initiatives in place. The way B approached this context was by setting up an assurance programme, enabling the occupational health service to advise the small contractors on the wellbeing steps they could take to improve.
This does not mean everything the project does on wellbeing has been enforced centrally and from the top down. B leads a network of occupational health professionals who support wellbeing activities and champion wellbeing issues to drive change. These professionals work both internally and across all sites with other partners. However, B has also put principles in place to allow local flexibility. She realised as the project progressed that the central expertise and experience of her team was important and agenda-setting, but that locally-driven initiatives at different sites were still an important part of the overall approach.
B took a decision to benchmark wellbeing approaches across the industry and adopted the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey. Throughout the project her team led on several wellbeing surveys and implemented working groups for dialogue, with the most influential across the project being the Mental Health working group and the Mental Health First Aiders initiative. During the COVID pandemic lockdown, B ran health, safety and wellbeing workshops, drawing on survey results, to sustain the business focus on supporting wellbeing. This shows commitment and consistency in using an evidence base to keep evolving workplace wellbeing practice – within the business and influencing partners.