May 26, 2021

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Getting your message heard and increasing your visibility

SHP talks to Karen McDonnell, Policy Advisor at RoSPA, who outlines some steps to take to make sure your wellbeing message reaches your audience for maximum impact.

Where does wellbeing sit within RoSPA and what support do you offer organisations?

Dr Karen McDonnell CFIOSH SquareKaren McDonnell (KM): “Our whole person, whole life approach recognises the impact of accidents, both in work and beyond the workplace, and at different stages across a person’s life course… the ripple effect on wellbeing that has the potential to last generations

“Over our 105-year history we have put people at the heart of our campaigning, exchanging life enhancing knowledge and skills around health safety and wellbeing related topics. RoSPA have for many years offered assistance on wellbeing and health as part of our whole life approach to safety. This sits within our home safety, child and older people programmes and training courses. For employers, this starts at school. Our SchoolSafe reviews include specific elements of welfare for children, in the classroom, through the curriculum and within the community. We expect and encourage learning about wellbeing and safety as part of the whole school approach. (We don’t overlook teachers!) Our occupational and our Managing Occupational Road Risk (MORR) reviews include consideration of work pressures, wellbeing and work patterns. All this support is, of course, focussed on prevention of ill health, identifying the unacceptable pressures and helping organisations mitigate them. We have a suite of mediating activities and training where pressures have been identified and to help employees with specific aspects of wellbeing. This includes training people to become wellbeing coordinators, champions and of course mental health and wellbeing awareness training. We encourage organisations to recognise employee and family wellbeing as part of good governance and our award programmes expect performance in these areas for high performance.

“Overall, we encourage organisation wellbeing and health as a whole life approach and as a programme for employers, not stand-alone activity or box ticking widget. One wellbeing training course will not provide or improve an individual’s wellbeing. Organisations should systematically manage the pressures and hazards on their staff as with any other demand placed upon them and RoSPAs services and support are designed to assist organisations through a programme which will develop and evolve over time.”

Do you think employee wellbeing will, in general, improve or get worse as a result of restrictions easing and people starting to return to offices?

(KM): “Our focus has been on encouraging members and award winners to pause-reflect and re-set over the course of the pandemic. Remaining COVID-secure and situationally aware as they take safe and healthy steps back to work. Wellbeing issues are part of situational awareness and it is well documented whilst key and essential workers have continued to work throughout the pandemic, those of us in non-essential roles work from home. According to the CIPD before the pandemic around 5% of the workforce worked mainly from home. The number of people working from home has over the previous five years increased steadily with a seismic shift as a result of the events of the last year.

“And, as time has progressed, there has been an increasing need for flexibility to ensure life work balance is maintained. Speaking to colleagues, RoSPA members and Award winners the word balance starts some interesting conversations. Life’s rich tapestry has become more vibrant during the pandemic, a rich yet challenging mix of caring, supporting those with vulnerabilities, home schooling and being ready to adapt as government advice and the pandemic has evolved. As a result, employers will need to work closely with employees to unpick them from ‘living in work’ and put programmes in place to manage wellbeing as they would any other risk to their organisation.”

Do you think the majority of organisations have sufficient wellbeing programmes in place?

(KM): “It is widely recognised that many employees are interested in maintaining elements of flexibility in their work, from living in work to hybrid working… managing a safe and healthy return embeds principles of safe place, good work and refreshing working relationships in ‘the world as it is’. Whilst many organisations will have wellbeing programmes in place, we anticipate that the pace of change during the pandemic that others will be looking for simple hints, tips and signposting to information and advice to help then plan a way forward.”

You will be speaking at the Workplace Wellbeing Conference in June about increasing visibility and getting the message heard, how important is it to be adaptable when communicating with employees, particularly at time when many are working remotely?

(KM):Lone and vulnerable workers including those who work from home has been a key issue for RoSPA over the last couple of years, as has the subject of fatigue both have really come into focus during the pandemic. Taking health safety and wellbeing beyond the workplace through clear communication and collaborative working on a personal and organisational basis requires adaptability and agility. I’m aiming to help start thinking about messaging and signposting to existing resources that can help organisations move forward.”

What can delegates expect to learn from your session?

(KM): “How to articulate what they stand for in a health safety and wellbeing context, to become more visible in their organisation and wider OSH community. The importance of clear messages and when to push and re-push them. Signposting to comms toolkits and resources that can help them tackle existing issues and more importantly start to build their own.”

Workplace Wellbeing Conference LogoThe Workplace Wellbeing Virtual Conference was part of a month-long virtual event called Connect, which included the virtual Safety & Health Expo and Workplace Wellbeing Show exhibitions, in 2021.

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