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Research Questions

  1. In which areas has WWC been particularly well-received?
  2. What is the potential impact of the WWC in various contexts?

There is strong and growing evidence that work and health and wellbeing are closely and strongly linked and need to be addressed together. In June 2014, Public Health England (PHE) published a set of national standards for workplace health for the first time — the Workplace Wellbeing Charter (WWC or Charter), which was developed with the charity Health@Work and Liverpool County Council and was based on their scheme and others from around the country.

The national standards aimed to introduce a level of coherence and consistency across the country to support local authorities that had different programmes, with their own standards and reporting requirements, or were planning to introduce them. The national standards provide a universal baseline for local areas to commission or provide their schemes against, harmonising the core of existing schemes and allowing other elements to be tailored to local needs and interests. The WWC is designed to provide employers with a systematic, evidence-based approach to workplace health improvement.

While the need for employers to act on workplace health and wellbeing is unequivocal and the practice of bringing together resources within a coherent approach is valid, there has been limited research into the impact of the WWC as a method. This study investigates the take-up and impact of the WWC, maps available data on the number of organisations accredited with the Charter across England and provides insights into a diverse range of organisations that have invested in the wellbeing of staff in their workplaces.

Key Findings

While the study identified a number of improvements in policies, infrastructure and the provision of wellbeing programmes by participating organisations — such as sickness absence, job satisfaction and staff morale — these changes could not be unambiguously attributed to the WWC accreditation and the wellbeing activities, in part due to lack of available information on outputs (the overall number of wellbeing events and initiatives) and outcomes (staff participation data). However, amongst other findings, the study identified a number of areas where the WWC contributed to making a positive difference to the accredited organisations and their staff:

  • The WWC provides organisations with an all-inclusive framework for identifying gaps and areas for improvements, while allowing them the flexibility to prioritise certain areas and pace changes according to their determination, resources and abilities.
  • The WWC inspires novel approaches to achieve sustainable results in times of austerity and limited resources. Seven organisations explicitly mentioned partnerships with local organisations that provided services free of charge, and all said that the main investment was time rather than money.
  • The WWC helps organisations capture results and realise how much they already do. It also demonstrates the benefits that organisations gain from wellbeing initiatives and encourages organisations to maximise the results.

Recommendations

  • To introduce a system to monitor the nationwide use of the WWC at the national level
  • To further develop reporting guidance and tools for the WWC accreditation
  • To create a toolbox to aid the accreditation application process
  • To simplify the accreditation process for micro and small organisations
  • To include examples of effective collaboration between accredited organisations and local providers in the said toolbox
  • To consider embedding the logic model approach in the WWC accreditation
  • For local providers: To continue working with organisations to build partnerships with local services and to facilitate the links with relevant institutions and organisations

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Methodology

  • Chapter Three

    Findings

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions and recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Data request from PHE to providers

  • Appendix B

    Interview protocol

  • Appendix C

    Case study template

  • Appendix D

    Case studies

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was was commissioned and funded by Public Health England (PHE) and conducted by RAND Europe.

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