by Frebeleen Gamier

One of our modules focuses on workplace wellbeing.  Read here Freb’s blog about workplace wellbeing in the NHS.

After delving into diverse approaches to boost workplace well-being, our focus zeroes in on primary interventions. Unlike their secondary and tertiary counterparts, readily available but less impactful in NHS Trusts, primary interventions emerge as crucial for tackling work-related stress. However, their implementation often poses challenges within the NHS Trusts.

Drawing from over five years of experience within an NHS Trust,  I will be navigating through various departments, both clinical and non-clinical.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), primary interventions strive to nip issues in the bud, preventing them from persisting and negatively affecting employee health. This intervention type takes on two distinct sub-groups:

  1. Sociotechnical interventions: Focused on altering work design elements such as staffing levels, work schedules, and patterns.
  2. Psychosocial interventions: Addressing employees’ perceptions of the work environment through health and well-being communications and promotions.

The frequent rotations between departments were prompted by challenges like inadequate staffing levels and rigid rota practices. Shift schedules, particularly consecutive nights followed by long days, posed significant challenges to staff well-being.

Ward managers, caught between meeting targets and internal pressures, often found themselves lacking support from higher-ups. This created a toxic culture and internal politics that trickled down to the staff, making the working environment exceptionally challenging.

Distinct cultures within clinical and non-clinical departments operated independently. Some areas cultivated a hostile environment, leading to heightened stress levels and increased staff turnover.

Contrastingly, the occupational health department provided a supportive environment under executive leadership, alleviating pressure on staff. However, some staff experienced intimidation from their managers, who misunderstood the role of occupational health as a punitive measure rather than a support mechanism.

A shining example of successful primary interventions unfolded in a specific outpatient department. With a small and cohesive team, this department maintained effective communication, scheduling flexibility, and regular team-building activities. This contrasted sharply with other areas, highlighting the profound impact of primary interventions on reducing work-related stress and enhancing staff retention.

A similar setting with stable staffing under consistent leadership for ten years witnessed a notable decline in staff retention after their departure, pointing to underlying management issues.

In conclusion, primary interventions emerge as effective tools in reducing work-related stress and enhancing staff retention. However, their successful implementation hinges on managers equipped with the right mindset, leadership skills, and managerial capabilities.

You too could improve workplace wellbeing with an Integrated Diploma in Wellness and Resilience Coaching Skills like Freb has studied for.  

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