King’s Health Partners is a partnership that includes King’s College London, Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with a combined total of 36,000 staff. Many employees across the public health network are feeling the psychological effects of increasing demands, larger and more complex workloads, and less control over their work. Like many NHS organisations, poor support systems, faulty equipment and ineffective procedures are adding to the stress of patient and systemic demands. Staff have also reported feeling less recognition and appreciation for their efforts. As a result, team dynamics, mental health and work/life balance are being adversely affected.
King’s Health Partners recognises that the happier
@work programme aims to tackle these highly complex issues. These issues can’t be dealt with in isolation by tweaking a processes or procedures, within a single team or organisation. Systemic improvements will take time and collective effort across a broad landscape of factors that contribute to well-being at work. However, King’s Health Partners is committed to making a start, to helping employees flourish at work.
In 2011 King’s Health Partners began to pilot the happier
@work programme, which is aimed at improving staff well-being within the context of the challenging realities of NHS working life.
Initially, a small group of King’s Health Partners’ staff from a range of disciplines including clinical services, HR, occupational health and mental health promotion, worked with seven teams to discover what it’s really like to work at King’s Health Partners - and to create a realistic picture of what might help to improve staff well-being. Each happier
@work initiative focused on improvements at one of three levels of well-being: individual, group/team and structural/organisational and each was designed with a focus on starting conversations that challenge us to change.
Activities highlighted particular themes like ‘managing for staff well-being’ and ‘developing practical skills for peace of mind’. They included courses on mental health awareness and stress-awareness, training in mindfulness, a series of seminars and a project called ‘Creating Space for Well-being’. Initiatives were easily identified by the distinctive multi-coloured logo representing the happier
@work Wheel of Well-being. The logo was designed to represent the integrated, holistic nature of well-being, and it is a visual reminder that well-being includes body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet.
A formal evaluation was undertaken by London Southbank University (LSBU). Whilst the indicators of well-being improved and indicators of mental ill health decreased, the sample size was too small to be conclusive. However LSBU concluded that, “the results would suggest that well-designed employee well-being interventions that are integrated into the workplace could help increase the well-being of employees”. Furthermore, LSBU found that 74% of managers felt better able to support their team well-being and 68% of staff who attended a stress awareness session felt better able to manage their stress.
As a result, between October 2012 and March 2013, a range of new pilot initiatives appeared under the banner ‘happier
@work’. In 2013, based on the success of the pilot, the programme was mainstreamed across King’s Health Partners. To date over 1,000 staff have accessed the programme. Happier
@work was runner up in the 2016 City of London Sustainability awards.