Winner: SFJ Awards Impact Award - Promoting Wellbeing
Wakefield Council pro-actively promotes workforce health and wellbeing through its People Strategy underpinned by its organisational objectives that aim to create a healthier and more inclusive culture.
The council saw Learning at Work Week as an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how learning supports and promotes health and wellbeing in a range of different ways and across broad areas of working life.
The week was a collaborative effort between officers from different Directorates across the council, representative of the diverse workforce, continuing the learning journey foundations established during Learning at Work Week 2021.
The team designed a rich programme to deepen understanding of lifelong learning and its links to health and wellbeing, as well as support for colleagues mental and physical health through a series of activities, self-help resources, technology and skills development. The fun, interactive and easily accessible face-to-face and online courses were held at different times and locations to meet the needs of the council’s diverse workforce.
The workshops on offer set out to develop a supportive culture and connect colleagues on important topics and health and wellbeing opportunities. These included ‘managing mental health in the workplace’ and ‘menopause uncovered’. A ‘sitting pandemic’ was the spur for the workshop on how to lead less sedentary lifestyles. As part of this, colleagues could take part in a walk to Pontefract Castle. To promote a culture of support, managers and staff attended Masterclasses on a range of topics including coaching.
A virtual ‘cycling uncovered’ workshop has led to the establishment of a cycling forum. The council made great use of their local resources and expertise. Staff and Wakefield citizens joined library workshops on coding and card making and took part in partnership workshops looking at waste with Renewi and learning about the past was also on offer including an interactive workshop on handling the council’s museum artefacts; and a local history session with Hemsworth Memories Group. The programme also included a Dementia Awareness roadshow and interactive technology provided peer support and enabled colleagues to learn new skills on location.
An innovative digital learning pathway was showcased, highlighting health and wellbeing applications and how to reduce stress using digital technology. Colleagues could access digital health surveys to check their knowledge and skills and staff who are Microsoft 365 champions shared top tips, support and good practice..
Internal audiences also promoted health and wellbeing through learning. The Chief Executive and Corporate Management team focused on the benefits of learning and endorsed the lifelong learning culture at the council through shared stories and experiences. The council’s EDI officer talked about the importance of amplifying under-represented voices; and the EDI lead gave an introduction to accessibility. This included raising awareness and sharing information about the Councils Disability Confident Leadership role.
The week was promoted with a branded engagement and communications campaign that included a digital guide; a feature in the Chief Executives’ blog; manager and team briefings; information in news streams and on digital screens; and workshops supported by LGBTQIA+, Disabled Network, Menopause and Carers Forums. To reach colleagues with little or no access to computers, a colleague with experience of workforce engagement working within front line services joined the task group, leading to the council’s Champions cascading information to front line services.
The team monitored and gathered feedback for all the sessions through pulse surveys, evaluation forms and Team Chat. This allowed them to enhance user experiences for sessions run more than once. As a result of the week, colleagues have reported increased confidence and curiosity for learning. The week has increased learning, engagement, wellbeing and happiness; as well as improved ways of working and service delivery.
Colleagues at Wakefield Council now have a better understanding of the pathways and resources that are available to maintain their own and others health and wellbeing; and have a raised awareness of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion matters through storytelling and shared experiences. New interest groups have been formed on the menopause, cycling and gardening. There are sixty new users of the learning pathways and modern workplace programme which support colleagues with improving their digital skills.
The week has supported the Council’s strategy for a resilient and healthy workforce through embedding a learning culture and a ‘one council’ approach. The feedback from the week will help shape the council’s new efficient and effective ways of working, underpinned by the skills and knowledge that colleagues have gained.