Our NHS People

Introduction to Health and Wellbeing Conversations

Anna Baverstock’s quote raises an important question. How can the NHS create opportunities for staff to reflect on their ‘battery level’ and identify the things they, their line manager and their team can do to recharge and stay well?  If NHS organisations invest precious time to integrate these pause points into their approach what benefits could they expect?

The evidence is strong – The Kings Fund 2012 review Employee engagement and NHS performance suggests that there is a clear association between culture, engagement, wellbeing and multiple aspects of performance. Organisations that have supportive local and senior management and promote authentic staff engagement have lower levels of both absence and ‘presenteeism’ – turning up for work despite being unwell. They are less likely to report suffering from work-related stress and they rate their own health and wellbeing more highly. There is also a link to turnover with engaged employees being less likely to want to leave their trust. The benefits also go beyond staff to patients – with positive impacts on quality, safety and patient experience.

The Stevenson-Farmer review ‘Thriving at Work’ noted that initiatives focused on improving mental wellbeing in particular are shown to have a 1:4 return on investment.

The NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework and Health Education England’s Staff and Learners’ Mental Wellbeing Commission Report both recommended the need for ‘check ins’ with staff and training for managers to enhance their skills in facilitating conversations about wellbeing. The new NHS People Plan takes this recommendation a step further:

NHS England and NHS Improvement has developed this guide for executives responsible for staff health and wellbeing. It has these aims:

  • To clarify what a health and wellbeing conversation is and isn’t
  • To make an evidence-based case for organisations to include them within their overall health and wellbeing approach
  • To provide implementation advice and support especially given COVID-19, recovery and winter pressure
  • To share current resources to support implementation and those which will be available over the coming months
  • To highlight further advice that will be available for those facilitating the conversations and also for staff participating in the process