As an RCN safety rep, I was immediately supportive of the Healthy workplace campaign. But it was only when I took the Healthy workplace toolkit to my Trust’s health and wellbeing steering group meeting that I saw the true value of this project.
In October 2015 staff absence due to stress was becoming a major issue. When a member of staff took time off because of stress, they could be absent for up to four weeks before their manager referred them for additional support.
The Healthy workplace toolkit uses a checklist approach to problems, and by following this guide, we developed something called the ‘fast track referral process’.
This new process, developed in partnership with staff and employers, ensures that anyone with a stress-related issue is contacted by our occupational health team within 24 hours.
For me as a rep, this was hugely important. It gave staff the chance to speak to a health care professional and receive advice, information about talking therapies, or support in approaching their GP.
Although it’s not been in place for long, staff have already told me how the new process has given them the confidence to return to work sooner. Sickness levels have also decreased, so it’s clearly working.
Using the checklist included in the toolkit has helped identify other areas for improvement too. In the future we’re going to develop new policy around harassment and bullying, and we also have exciting plans for a mediation service.
We’ve also used the Healthy workplace toolkit to safeguard funding for staff development, which will continue to have an impact on retainment.
My role as a rep often involves speaking to employers about some incredibly challenging issues. However, the toolkit has been such a positive thing to bring to the table. It has certainly strengthened the partnership I have with the Trust.