Implementing Intervention – Creating a Healthier Workplace

Part 4 – Implementing intervention

The implementation of Health & Wellbeing (H&W) strategy is the final part and tip of The Workplace Health Pyramid.  As discussed in the previous articles of this mini-series, rolling out H&W interventions are only likely to deliver successful outcomes when they are built on the fundamentals of a:

  • Strong company H&W culture
  • Deep understanding of the current impact of the workplace experience provided

With this in mind, it’s important that organisations don’t dive straight in at the intervention level in the pursuit of a shortcut to success.  On the contrary, utilising data gathered from existing workplace provision should be used to develop and create a strategic H&W programme that considers several criteria:

  • Evidence base
  • Sustainability
  • Measurability
  • Engagement
  • Preventative

Evidence base

Throughout this mini-series I have referred to the need to understand the needs of your employee demographic.  Part 3 discussed potential routes for gathering data to assist in this process, and it is this data in itself that is the underlying evidence which should direct you towards an area of intervention.  As an example, collecting posture data via wearable technology from employees will provide you with evidence of how your current office set-up (including furniture, desks, chairs etc) performs with regards to supporting related musculoskeletal health. Are your employees spending a lot of time in poor posture? Do you have high incidence of back pain?  Is there preferred furniture from employee perspective? Combining all of these insights will direct you towards a potential intervention that is likely to be more impactful because you know it is based on evidence.  Essentially, you are building a business case for the health interventions you are going to spend your H&W budget on.

Sustainability

When creating a H&W strategy, it’s imperative that you consider the sustainability of your programme.  In order to continually support a strong H&W culture, any interventions should be seen as an engrained part of the workplace rather than a flash in the pan initiative that masquerades as the organisation providing H&W.  For example, the provision of individual level “Health MOT’s” can be an attractive way of providing H&W support to employees, however if the cost of sustaining this as a regular service is prohibitive, then the risk of decreasing the effectiveness of this service and creating negative sentiment (due to having it “taken away”) is heightened.  Look at your data, look at your budget and identify ways and means of delivering effective H&W as standard practice rather than as a one-time offering.

Measurability

An important but regularly overlooked aspect of H&W provision is putting in place methods to measure the success of any intervention.  In order to understand impact and identify whether your strategy is delivering an ROI or VOI, time should be spent drawing up a set of criteria or KPI’s against which specific interventions will be evaluated.  This is particularly important in organisations where H&W budget is controlled by stakeholders who need evidence of success in order to justify spend.  The more you can demonstrate improvements in health through tangible metrics, the more likely you are to be able to invest more in making further strides.  On the flip side, if an intervention is not being effective, you are  much more likely to identify this quickly via regular monitored metrics and thus reduce spending money inefficiently.

Engagement

So you’ve spent time identifying the inherent H&W issues in your workforce and now have a solid understanding of what is needed.  You now need to ensure that whatever it is you are going to deliver, is rolled out in a way such that it engages those it is aimed at.  How engagement is achieved will vary greatly from organisation to organisation (and within organisations), as different demographics have different things that make them tick.  However, one consistent and simple method to achieve successful implementation is to involve employees in the decision-making process.  This ensures employee opinions and thoughts are integrated into the delivery of your H&W strategy, vastly increasing the likelihood of engagement.  Furthermore, the inclusivity of employees in this process is highly likely to increase the strength of the H&W culture within your organisation.

Preventative

In addition to the four considerations outlined above, a further point of consideration focusses on whether what you are implementing is a preventative or reactive measure.  Clearly the introduction of H&W strategy following the gathering of data is reactive to the status quo, however the processes you put in place should, where possible, be preventative measures that reduce the probability of encountering the same issues in the future.  Analogous to this is the example where a person who suffers from regular back pain visits a physio or doctor whenever flare-ups occur for treatment or medication to relieve the pain (i.e. a reaction). Whereas a more satisfactory way of dealing with the problem is to reduce the incidence of the flare-ups in the first place through (for example) adherence to a movement or strength program that supports their back better (i.e. preventative).  In a nutshell, prevention is better than cure, and should be the go-to route for a sustainable and effective intervention.

To summarise, the effectiveness of your H&W interventions can be heightened through following the aforementioned criteria.  As discussed previously however, the overall impact and success of a H&W programme is limited by organisational H&W culture and the understanding you have with regards to the H&W characteristics of your employee demographic.

This article pieces together the final part of the jigsaw in The Workplace Health Pyramid. By following the stages of the pyramid from foundation up, you increase the potential of developing a healthier workplace, placing you in a stronger position to attract & retain talent, reduce absenteeism and presenteeism and increase overall business productivity.

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