https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/05/introducing-the-new-civil-service-health-and-well-being-champion/

Introducing the new Civil Service Health and Well-being Champion

Head shot of Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones, Head of the Government Legal Service and Civil Service Health and Well-Being Champion

I’m delighted to announce that I am taking on the role of Civil Service Health and Well-being Champion.

It is hugely important to me that we give priority to the well-being of our people, both inside and outside work. Healthy and happy employees are more productive, more engaged and more creative. We can all achieve great things when working in an environment that supports this.

I’ve worked in the Civil Service for a number of years, experiencing the diverse cultures of departments such as the Home Office, Department for Education, Attorney General’s Office and now the Government Legal Department (GLD). Of course, each department has its own unique culture and it is important that we ensure well-being is included within this.

In my own department, the senior management team and I have given high priority to creating a positive, inclusive environment, providing advice, counselling and practical support to those who are experiencing problems or who have specific health needs, and encouraging sporting and social activity.  I’m looking forward to drawing on what we’ve done in GLD to help shape the agenda across the wider Civil Service.

The Civil Service is already a model employer in many aspects related to health and well-being. For example, we have adopted flexible working to meet the ever-changing demands on the workforce. Flexible working is an area of particular strength for my department, including an energetic flexible working network to share practical tips.

'A great place to work' logoI’m really pleased to be taking up the role at this time, coming as it does so soon after the recent campaign of activities across the Civil Service. At Civil Service Live this year, Live Well, Work Well workshops shared practical tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There were also fantastic sessions on Talking About Mental Health, featuring speakers sharing their experiences and helping to de-stigmatise the issues that surround mental health. A powerful example of this is the blog from Rupert McNeil, the Civil Service’s Chief People Officer, who is also committed to supporting this change.

Moving forward, on the Health and Wellbeing Steering Group we will continue to focus on promoting mental health and healthy lifestyles, and reducing musculoskeletal disorders. There are actions planned to encourage healthy eating and physical activity and we hope to have further sessions at Civil Service Live in 2017.

I’m looking forward to working with people across the Civil Service, to ensure we keep health and well-being high on the agenda, making it truly a great place to work.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for what we can do further.

84 comments

  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Jonathan,

    Congratulations on taking up the role as the Civil Service Health and Wellbeing Champion. It is encouraging to hear about the way in which you have sought to promote a positive and inclusive environment within your particular department.

    I am a member of the Wellbeing Network, which is an FCO Staff Association that was launched in June 2014. Our primary aim has been to provide a peer support network for all staff across the Global network that is able to respond to their needs and challenges. In many cases this means improving our ability to recognise and address personal or organisational pressures which can cause undue stress and potentially damage our happiness and wellbeing.

    As a signatory of the Time to Change Pledge, we have already hosted a series of events and training courses in which we have look to break the stigma in respect of mental health and seek to promote the benefits of mindfulness. We have also provided a safe space within the workplace where colleagues can go to regain their composure when the need arises.

    We seek to work closely with colleagues from other Government Departments and have regular interaction with representatives from Time To Change and Mind.

    Gavin Thomas
    on behalf of the Wellbeing Network

    • Replies to Gavin Thomas>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks Gavin. I am pleased to hear about the actions FCO is taking to encourage well-being in the department. I look forward to working with all departments, including FCO, to drive forward the health and well-being agenda.

  2. Comment by Roogler posted on

    You need to realize that "flexible working" in a lot of places and certainly in my Department means because of a lack of staff you have to work long hours to cope with the workload. You then build up loads of time credit that you cannot use because you are so busy- this is the real world for most of us.

    • Replies to Roogler>

      Comment by Bill posted on

      Well said Roogler, that is certainly the way away from DWP Head Office sites

    • Replies to Roogler>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thank you for your comment Roogler. I appreciate that the Civil Service is being asked to deliver on a wide range of complex and demanding issues. Is it worth you talking to your manager to explore if there are ways of managing your workload so you can take time off between the peaks?

  3. Comment by Avril posted on

    I am looking at flexible working and part timers and how they can manage their work in part time hours, do you have any advice, hints or tips on time management, any contacts that can support me with my working group?

    • Replies to Avril>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment Avril. It would be worth looking to see if there is a staff network for part-timers in your department, or whether one can be set up. It can be really helpful for part-timers to talk to each other to see how they cope with particular issues. It can also be helpful for more experienced part-timers to mentor those just starting this working pattern.

  4. Comment by Fran Ritson posted on

    I help to run weekly lunch time Yoga sessions where I work (Leicester HMRC). I am a qualified Yoga teacher. A colleague is a qualified assistant yoga teacher. We hire a room in a nearby Chapel as there is insufficient availability in the office meeting rooms so we cover the cost of this amongst the attendees.
    The benefits of Yoga are well known but to witness the mood change, the calming effect and the improved posture by the end of our short sessions, is so rewarding. I can't recommend it enough.
    There are probably lots of Civil Servants who do yoga already but an extra short session in the working day keeps people topped up.
    I would love to see this as a standard feature within offices as it promotes wellbeing, mindfulness, flexibility and strength. It is within the reach of so many levels of physical ability and is now part of the training programme for many professional athletes.
    Namaste.

  5. Comment by Sue posted on

    Hi Jonathan. You mention a reduction to musculoskeletal disorders. When I worked in DWP, we had a free Physioline service, and when I had problems with my back and was off work (albeit briefly), I accessed this service and received exercises tailored to me. Since then I have continued to do these exercises and fingers crossed, they have prevented a repeat of the problem for 3 years now. I know of others that rated this service really highly. I have now moved to HMRC and they don't have access to this service, and yet I see a lot of absence related to these disorders. Is this something that could be rolled out to other Government Depts as surely the benefits to the department outweigh the cost of providing it.

    • Replies to Sue>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Sue, thanks for your comment. Musculoskeletal disorders are one of the leading causes of long-term sickness absence in the Civil Service. We are currently looking at the contract framework for the future provision of occupational health and employee assistance programme contracts, and I have asked the Civil Service well-being team to make sure HMRC HR are aware of your comments.

      • Replies to Jonathan Jones>

        Comment by Jacqueline posted on

        Does the MOJ/HMCTS have access to the Physioline? I suffer with arthritis & I feel this would help me sometimes.

  6. Comment by Mike posted on

    Excellent news to have this role.
    I feel there is a need to give more to people with long-term 'less serious' health conditions, for example IBS. Often people have low level, nagging problems which are pretty much lifelong, these can impact on performance and emotional well-being.

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment Mike. I agree that the Civil Service needs to take a holistic approach to well-being. Occupational health and employee assistance programmes are there to advise staff and managers about workplace adjustments and other measures that may help address this type of issue. It is important that people talk to their managers about the issues they face.

  7. Comment by John Jordan posted on

    Hi Jonathan,
    I am the mental health 'corporate lead' for our unit within UKVI. I promote the mental health support that s available to us and keep this issue alive along with other leads on cross over issues.
    For me, it is great that there is a Champion appointed to promote mental health as well as general well being, but I find that the Champions tend to be only encountered by the majority of staff via Horizon stories/blogs. It would be great to see you out and about wherever possible-to promote your causes and make them more 'real' to staff in person or via team dial ins.

    • Replies to John Jordan>

      Comment by J Scrimshire posted on

      Medical professional refer to 'acute' and 'chronic' conditions. The latter is the preferred term rather than "long-term 'less serious' health conditions" 🙂

    • Replies to John Jordan>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment John. I am very pleased to take up this role and look forward to meeting a wide range of interested colleagues across departments. I will be attending an Attendance and Well-being practitioner event in October and look forward to attending other events.

  8. Comment by Patty NW posted on

    It would be good if you could intervene in the recent Employee Deal arrangements within DWP Jonathon. Health and Well Being are not being taken into account by management because the aim is to adjust staff working hours whether it suits them or not. A work life balance is essential for staff attempting to tackle mental health issues like stress and anxiety. Forcing people to work late at night or weekends gives those with heavy workloads even more to worry about. Can you provide any reassurance that mental health will be given serious consideration when agreeing revised working hours in the future? Thanks in advance if you can.

    • Replies to Patty NW>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Patty, mental health is one of our key well-being priorities. I cannot comment on particular departmental circumstances but, as a Civil Service, we are striving to create a leadership culture where well-being and issues like mental health are taken fully into account in drawing up business strategies.

  9. Comment by Ed posted on

    After declaring my mental health (MH) many years ago it has wrecked my career and life. I have had to be subjected to stereotyping of people with MH. I have lost my confidence and self worth

    • Replies to Ed>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      I am very sorry to hear this Ed. One of the purposes of the sessions we ran at Civil Service Live on ‘Talking about Mental Health’ was to widen understanding of mental health issues and to encourage a more open and informed dialogue.

      • Replies to Jonathan Jones>

        Comment by Pat McCaul posted on

        Sadly Jonathan there are still senior managers in my department who do not think depression is a real illness. In fact that is the actual phrase they used in a return to work discussion with someone who had to take time off because of mental health issues.

  10. Comment by Alan posted on

    While we still use the word 'mental', in 'mental' health, there will continue to be a stigma - in my view. When I was growing up, people attached the label 'mental' to people who were 'bad 'uns', beit bullies, violent individuals, or just people you thought you should avoid, even crossing the road to avoid. Then there were those in mental institutions. Perhaps there should be a drive to rename it something better, 'emotional well-being' or something similar perhaps.....

    • Replies to Alan>

      Comment by Ed posted on

      I totally agree with your comments. This has happened to me. The stigma. HR encouraged everyone to declare their 'disability' . I have been assaulted, threatened and have been the centre of gossip!

    • Replies to Alan>

      Comment by Joyce posted on

      mental and neurodiverse illnesses are very misunderstood, frowned uppon and poorly managed in the civil service.

  11. Comment by John posted on

    Congratulations on taking up this role as it is extremely important that health and wellbeing opportunities are available for officers. With this in mind is there an ambition to provide shower facilities for those officers ditching the car and now cycling or running to work etc?

    If shower facilities are available off site but are available in near neigbouring Civil Service buildings should there be any restriction in utilising these facitilies?

    Many thanks

    • Replies to John>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks John. I know lots of departments provide shower facilities. You may wish to contact your departmental well-being team if you are interested in using shower facilities in a neighbouring building.

  12. Comment by Lyndsey Casey posted on

    Thanks Jonathan. That is great to hear. I would be interested to hear more updates as the work progresses and also to understand the work that teams are already doing / planning to do within their departments over the coming months.

    • Replies to Lyndsey Casey>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your interest Lyndsey. I am happy to provide updates on health and well-being activity across the Civil Service as I get further into the role.

  13. Comment by Sue posted on

    Hi Jonathan,

    Congratulations. I am an active member of our local wellbeing group and I'm out about having a depressive illness. It's still really hard for many colleagues to focus on wellbeing and a positive life-work balance.
    We've got a divisional away day at the end of the month and I'm looking for a speaker to talk about the importance of wellbeing - not just to the individual but also how caring for colleagues can have many positive benefits (I don't think there are any negative ones) on the organisation. It would be great if we could get a senior civil servant (and former DfE colleague) to speak. Please let me know if you can come along. Thanks

    • Replies to Sue>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thank you Sue. If you drop an email to contact.us@csep.gov.uk, I will see whether someone can support your event. I am pleased that well-being is on the agenda.

  14. Comment by Dennis Ali posted on

    I hope you take the time to engage with existing groups and initiatives in other parts of the civil service. For example I work for the Home Office Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team and we have already done (and continue to do) a lot of work in this field. Especially well received have been our training and information initiatives covering such as Mindfulness, Recognising Stress, Stress Management for Managers, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Early Interventions, and so forth. Perhaps we need a more joined up civil service wide Health and Wellbeing Initiative?

    • Replies to Dennis Ali>

      Comment by Bernice O'Reilly posted on

      I'm really pleased to see that the HO is still doing a lot of good work in this area. I'm a previous Head of Health and Wellbeing at the HO and organised the first ever staff conference to focus on these issues. That was the late 90s and we had,what I considered to be, an enlighten DG. Good to see that these issues are being taken seriously across the whole of the CS now and that it's getting a well deserved and greater profile. Without healthy staff the organisation cannot function properly so it's worth the investment.

    • Replies to Dennis Ali>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment Dennis. The Civil Service is already taking a joined-up approach, sharing best practice through the Cross-Government Group on Well-being in which the Home Office is represented. I am keen to ensure that what works successfully in one department is tried in others.

  15. Comment by Jane Tresise posted on

    Hi Jonathan
    One of the cultural things that could really help some of us would be if we could switch from giving 'by close of play' deadlines to deadlines of (say) 8am the following day. Some of us having working patterns which mean that we get in very early but have to leave early (for example school run or caring responsibilities) and short notice deadlines cause great stress because all the time that we are rushing to get things finished our eye is on the clock and the pressure builds. But then we are in often several hours before the person who set the deadline arrives (sometimes as early as 6am). And we have time then which we could have used to finesse the piece or whatever. And it would make no difference to the recipients.
    Just one way that a bit more diversity in deadline / target setting could help reduce stress for some...

    • Replies to Jane Tresise>

      Comment by Caroline Williams posted on

      This is a great point and has really made me think. I often say by cop as I am a late worker but seeing your comments in print has made me realise that actually I could put the next day with early am as the reality is I won't deal with it til at least 10am. Such an obvious thing I should be doing and may help others - thank you.

  16. Comment by Liv posted on

    As a point on the actions to encourage healthy eating and physical activity (and this is something I would be very interested in helping to get involved in somehow), I would like to see this related more to the benefits for mental health and well-being as well.

    We talk a lot about positive mental health, but one serious mental health issue is eating disorders, and although this is only a minority of people, equating 'health' with only 'healthy eating' ('good' or 'bad' foods) or pedometers, steps and numbers is not the only way to do that. Focus on the benefits for health, mood, depression, stress relief, enjoyment, balance, resilience, learning new skills as well!

    • Replies to Liv>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      I agree with you Liv that aspects of well-being such as healthy eating are linked to our physical and mental health. We will ensure this is recognised in our messaging and I am glad that you are interested in getting involved.

  17. Comment by Vince Walker posted on

    Congratulations on your appointment. I was very disappointed that my own office failed to get behind 'cycle to work' day last year. This year I resolved to change that. I again registered myself to cycle on that day (14/09/2016), but also completed the 'challenge your employer' part. I gave the e-mail address of my CSOM. Some weeks later I met him and asked him about this. He said he hadn't received the e-mail and suspected that someone who had access to his inbox had deleted it. This is what we are up against. Incidentally, I have just received a letter from my district manager thanking me for not having any days off sick in the last year. I put this down to cycling to work and my diet, but it would be good to encourage more people to cycle to work for the sake of their health and indeed, the health of their wallet. Too late for this year, I guess, but maybe you could help promote it for next year? I will try again too.

    • Replies to Vince Walker>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Encouraging people to be more active is one of the priority areas for our Civil Service well-being agenda. This is why we recently ran the first Civil Service Physical Activity Week (https://civilservice.blog.gov.uk/2016/07/06/physical-activity-week-a-call-to-action-for-civil-servants/). I will be looking to see how we can encourage people to be more active in 2017. Lots of departments already offer a cycle-to-work scheme and we have recently introduced a cross-government employee benefits framework to help departments which want to introduce these schemes.

      • Replies to Jonathan Jones>

        Comment by Barbara posted on

        Re: your reply dated 16.9.16 to Vince Walker’s comments 8.9.16.

        I note that some departments offer a ‘cycle to work’ scheme. I have recently contacted my HR department to be told this was not currently provided. Is it possible that this may be reviewed after your cross government benefits framework has been introduced ?

        Referring to: http://www.cyclescheme.co.uk, there appear to be financial gains for both employer and employee on top of improved health and wellbeing:

        … employees get a bike tax-free, saving between 25-42%. Employers also enjoy National Insurance savings of up to 13.8%.

        A webinar for employers, information brochure, and FAQs are available on their website.

  18. Comment by Mel Carr posted on

    This is excellent news. I too am so passionate about Health and Wellbeing and have been an active member on our Wellbeing group in Seaham for a good while now, trying to promote healthier lifestyles in the office and getting people moving more. I have recently qualified as a Run Leader through Durham County Sport and am now doing 10wk block running programmes (couch to 5k) at work once a week. This has already proved to be extremely popular and i now have a waiting list for the next block.
    I will look forward to reading more updates on Health and Wellbeing. Well done for making this important issue a priority.
    I also LOVE YOGA, we did a couple of taster days where we had a yoga instructor into the office over the lunch time a couple of months ago. Again, i couldn't agree more with Fran above, this is so good for people, and their mood and productivity are just a couple of positive outcomes for embracing this activity.
    Brilliant.

    • Replies to Mel Carr>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thank you for your enthusiastic comments Mel.

  19. Comment by Jo Mackie posted on

    Jonathan, I understand from HR that there is no planned flu jab this year for staff in OKS. Can you please enlighten us if this changes?
    Thanks

    • Replies to Jo Mackie>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for the question Jo. I have been told that GLD will be offering flu jabs this year, but there are no dates available as yet. If you want more information please contact hrhelp@governmentlegal.gov.uk.

  20. Comment by Melissa posted on

    As a full timer who suffers from Fibromyalgia, ME, back problems, and others conditions I would love to be able to have the ability to utilise subsidised gym facilities. In addition, as daft as this may sound, some people may benefit from healthy cooking classes, or perhaps subsidised weight loss groups (slimming world, weight watchers etc). Not everyone can afford such things despite wanting to help themselves improve their health or weight. In addition, time is a factor for such things, especially for those with sole childcare responsibilties. If any of this could be factored into your considerations, I'm sure many would benefit!

    • Replies to Melissa>

      Comment by S posted on

      Since 95% of people who do these kind of diets regain the weight within 5 years, this would be a huge waste of taxpayers' money. The diet industry is a con. Simply eat healthily, a little of what you fancy does you good, and find a type of exercise that you can enjoy and is not a chore. The most recent studies indicate that it may be yo-yo dieting rather than being overweight per se that is to blame for the health problems commonly associated with being chubby.

  21. Comment by Mark Stevens posted on

    HMRC are moving all staff into 13 Regional Offices over the next few years. The first Regional Centre is a new-build in Croydon, which will house about 2,500 staff. All sorts of needs are being incorporated into the plans .. break-out areas, a prayer room, even the provision of snack machines. But a gym? Nope.

    This is one of the biggest shake-ups of a Civil Service department in decades. Croydon will stand as the blueprint for all subsequent Regional Centres. It would be grand if the new Health champion could give HMRC planners a metaphorical poke in the ribs on behalf of staff who keep fit in their current offices, and want to continue to do so in their new one. Thanks and good luck.

    • Replies to Mark Stevens>

      Comment by John Kent posted on

      This looks a positive development and there's a lot of willing people that are keen to help with the well being. The provision of a gym at the new Croydon RC would be a great early winner. How about also working with CSSC and RCSL in promoting sport and active lifestyles.

    • Replies to Mark Stevens>

      Comment by John posted on

      I came from the private sector several years ago. The company I worked for at the time moved us all into a state-of-the-art building. This building possessed rest rooms, rooms where staff could ejnoy their lunch on their own with peace & quiet, not at their desk. They also had an excellent buffet restaurant for all 2000 employees catering a healthy foods menu.

      Even better they had a fully inclusive Gym with a qualified instructor that attended 3 days per week. Staff could have their own personal training/fitness programme. The gym set up costs were minimal. The room was provided and the instructor paid a nominal rent and provided all the equipment. The gym was open from 7am to 7pm. This facility was available to employees families as well.

      The company negotiated an excellent deal with a local bicycle retailer and staff not only enjoyed a great deal for themselves but for their families as well. cycling to work considerably increased.

      The end result, we had a healthier,fitter workforce. Days off sick were reduced by 25% in the first 12 months. Staff turnover reduced by more than 60%. People wanted to work for the company, the change in the wellbeing of all the personnel was amazing. Staff were happier than they had been for a long time and output and profit rose by more than 25% year upon year.

      Salaries were ok, but this was not an issue any more.

      A major opportunity missed in Croydon.!!

    • Replies to Mark Stevens>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      I am keen to see well-being factored into change programmes but it is for departments to decide how best to do this. I am happy to forward your comments to HMRC HR.

  22. Comment by Jim Walter posted on

    This is excellent news and I really hope you can achieve something that actually starts to help staff. I work within the MOD and have found that due to cutbacks our old HR structure has gone to nothing and you are now lucky if you can talk to anyone at all let alone anyone who cares or even tries to assist staff with issues. It's all about reducing numbers and seeking self help from policy pages that send you round in circles and provide adice that is a one stop shop where we know each individual needs tailored help.
    If you can make this a more caring environment yet again I will be impressed as I have seen it when the Service did use to care, having been in the MOD for 43 years this year, and it did work when staff had professionals to talk to. Good luck

    • Replies to Jim Walter>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Over recent years, we have promoted the role of managers as the first line in supporting staff with a range of issues. They are aided in this role by guidance and training. Centrally, we have been looking at how to provide guidance which is easier to access and uses a wider range of media such as videos. Employee Assistance Programmes in departments are there to help both employees and managers. In addition, there are HR casework teams and a new Civil Service Workplace Adjustment Team to support managers with more difficult issues. I hope some of these sources of support can help you in the future.

  23. Comment by John Stacey posted on

    I couldn't agree more about the proposed lack of a gym at the first RC at Croydon. We currently have a good gym at Dorset House in London, so when the staff there move to Croydon (those that can) it will a retrograde step in terms of the overall accommodation and facilities provided - something I never envisaged would happen at the Regional Centres. If this trend is repeated at other RCs, then this worrying. If it isn't, then why are staff at Croydon denied such facilities when other RCs may well have them? There needs to be a consistent standard. I think this is something that you should look into, as you say that giving priority to the well-being of our people, both inside and outside of work, is something that is hugely important to you.
    Thanks, and best of luck in your new role

  24. Comment by Ams posted on

    Congratulation on you post and the enthusiasm in your dialog. I am from a Gov. dept. that has very recently added an Health and safety Officer (HSO), a much needed and welcomed person, as we have a very high leveI of field staff and office based staff that encounters an array of issues that impacts on both physical and mental health. I have recently experiencing a situation where a first line manager has been unable to show even a modicum of the understanding that you have clearly expounded, it begs my question if visits to different Gov. Depts, possibly to the HSOs to see or just understand if your ethos is being put into place at all levels of management to a positive level - or more possibly, that a written correspondence is sent to all Gov dept HSOs suggesting how to strengthen and ensure Health and Safety across all level of management. I am aware of our CSL (Civil Service learning) but, I do not see this being carried out or that it is reflected in general attitudes at first line management level. It seems to be the exception that proves the rule in the region that I work where even OH's (Occupational Health)suggestions are ignored.

    • Replies to Ams>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      For me, providing a healthy and safe working environment is not just a legal necessity but a fundamental part of how we look after our people and invest in their well-being. Promoting better mental health and improving physical safety go hand in hand.

      The Cross Government Health & Safety Group exists to share best practice and raise safety standards across the Civil Service. It currently has members representing nearly 30 departments and agencies. If your HSO is not yet part of that group, I would advise them to contact the group via this address: contact.us@csep.gov.uk.

  25. Comment by National Business Centre posted on

    I am part of the H & W group at one of the national business centres. As a group of 10 we dedicate as much time as possible to promoting H & W within our office, which will depend on business needs.
    From reading the other comments, it seems that some offices are given the time and resources to dedicate to health and wellbeing and unfortunately some are not. Moving forward it would be great to see an identical Health and Wellbeing program rolled out in each office/building. For example, securing yearly visits from EAP which is a service we are asked to promote throughout of office, which at times can prove difficult as a result of funding.
    I have attempted to start the ball rolling to merge this current divide in offices by emailing Health and Wellbeing team members in other local offices, in an attempt to share the knowledge and ensure our team is providing the best information and ideas we can.
    Although a monthly/annual meeting for all health and well being representatives may be unrealistic, maybe we could utilise platforms such as yammer or blogs such as yours to create a space for all our ideas.
    It would be a real shame for some employees to receive a forward thinking approach to health and wellbeing and for others to fall short through no fault of their own.
    I look forward to seeing your future updates 🙂

    • Replies to National Business Centre>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      I am keen to encourage closer working on well-being where different departments share the same building and to spread best practice. This is why we provided a single Civil Service poster for departments to use in their buildings as part of Civil Service Physical Activity Week. We will continue to encourage close working through the Cross-Government Group on Well-being, which brings departments together to discuss well-being.

  26. Comment by Gary Glennon-Alty posted on

    Hi Jonathan
    Looking at the range of comments above and as a civil service employee of a MOD trading fund (for the time being) can I second those comments that applaud the postive steps that have been taken (like flexible working) which can help people get their work life balance right for themseleves. However that promotion of mental helath issues by individuals at senior levels in the Civil Service, and locally, without fixing some of the fundamentals I suggest is likely to amount to scoring own goals and lead to a relative increase in the victimisation/wrecked my career comments.

    What are the fundamentals? Jim Walters above points to one area - having a line manager/ HR function that cares and understands about mental health issues, however for me perhaps even more significant is the creation of a meritocracy that isn't undermined by a performance assessment process that is based upon a relative distribution concept where a proportion of folk are destined to fail regardless of the level of absolute performance they achieve.

    Personally I believe that this concept, allied to a value system that places 'being seeing to be doing something', ahead of actually 'doing something and achieving an improved outcome', lies at the heart of much of what you appear to want to achieve as its hard to stay sane when achieving improvements in the value for money for the tax payers £ in relation to the delivery of public services seems to take second place to achieving head count targets.

    Some coherent/holistic thinking from Seniors and politicians therefore are where I suggest you place your efforts as for me "promoting mental health and healthy lifestyles, and reducing musculoskeletal disorders" etc sits in a 'treating the symptom space' as opposed to treating the cause.

    I accept that this is likely to run counter to the trend that has been operating for quite a few years now but one of the golden rules when i was working in the private sector is that if you want sustainable good results dont rely upon a flawed system as no amount of hard-charging, adding up pound notes, or calculating spurious utilisation results ever made the life of people who actually deliver a service happy and healthy.

    Seek engagement yes, but even more imporant is listening and acting together otherwise I suspect being a champion may only amount to on a few piric victories and rather than the boost in your own sense of well being as a result of really making a difference. Best of luck.

  27. Comment by Graham Mockett posted on

    Hi Jonathan, as the new HWB Champion I thought you might be interested in something we have introduced in the London Family Courts Legal Team. I'm a Legal Team Manager for the Family Courts in London & I'm also the Health & Wellbeing lead. As lawyers we are very regulated by the times of the court sessions & time is at a premium & we've been thinking of practical ideas how we can improve our regular working week. As a London wide Legal Team we came up with 2 ideas that we have introduced & I thought it was worth sharing with you in case the suggestion was considered a good one by other departments that might want to give it a go;
    1. 'Walking Wednesday'. The nature of our work often means we are checking court orders, signing orders, working in court, working on the computer, fielding e-mails etc & often means little lunch break is taken. What we have decided to do is once a fortnight on a Wednesday (or can be any other day people choose) to have break from the court/desk & go for a 20-30 min walk together. This has the benefit of a real break from work, a healthy short walk & I'm sure a little bit of team building along the way.

    2. Once a month 'Healthy lunch' day - where we all go somewhere away from the workplace & bring our own lunch but have a lunch break together on eg.last Thursday iof each month.

    This has worked well in the summer months (maybe more challenging when the weather changes!) & feedback has been positive.

    Hope the suggestions prove useful to some, regards, Graham.

    • Replies to Graham Mockett>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Many thanks for your comment Graham. I’m pleased to hear about the initiatives your team have introduced to enhance well-being – small ideas can make a really positive difference.

  28. Comment by Craig Brown posted on

    Hello, my name is Craig Brown a PEI in the Prison service.
    My Stocken 365 initiative is designed for the wellbeing of all staff members at HMP Stocken.
    A confidential service which allows staff to access the kind of treatment they might expect to find in the NHS or through private healthcare services.
    An easy booking procedure allows staff access 365 days a year during the lunch time period.
    A series of tests that will give a picture of your health and allow us to discuss the results, providing personalised advice and lifestyle support.
    The hope that early sign posting, advice and possible referral will help staff members maintain a healthy balanced life style resulting in a raised level of wellbeing.
    I would love to see this type of hands on approach developed throughout the civil service.
    Investing in staff pro-actively in this type of manner actually does empower them, I’ve seen it.

    • Replies to Craig Brown>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment Craig and for sharing the initiative. I will look at all the ideas suggested to drive forward our approach to well-being.

  29. Comment by Andy Croft posted on

    I hope you are going to liaise with both the Occupational Health and the Occupational Safety teams across government as the two areas of overlapping interest are often functionally isolated from each other. If you want to take your message though effectively, you will need both to work together and with you. Occupational Safety in particular ought to be engaged with as they tend to be staff whereas Occ Health is all too often contracted out to companies who are often on the front cover of newspapers highlighting defects or two with the organisation.
    Are you intended to overlap with the disability champion or will you try and stay completely separate? I would hope you’d work together.

    • Replies to Andy Croft>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks for your comment Andy. I can assure you that Philip Rutnam, the Civil Service Disability Champion, and I will be working closely together to do what we can to improve the employee experience within the Civil Service.

  30. Comment by AJT posted on

    In the south west I am one of the now 14 fully qualified mental health first aiders, having completed the 2 day Mental Health England First aid course. I am also the admin team health and wellbeing champion for the courts in somerset - i am really looking forward to seeing how changes are made and improvements are put in place to ensure that all staff are looked after better - staff have to hear about the not very nice side of society on a daily basis - and i think that can seriously affect their health - but most are too proud/scared to speak out for fear of being seen as weak or not able to do their jobs. Hopefully us champions on the shop floor will also be given clearer guidance as well as the time to really flouirsh at the role rather than it being a rushed affair often in your own time.

    • Replies to AJT>

      Comment by LS posted on

      I was interested to read the comment from AJT about being a fully qualified Mental health first aider. This is something I would be interested in pursuing for the benefit of my work place - Mags court in the North East. Is anybody able to provide any information on training and funding that is available to support this please? Thank you.

    • Replies to AJT>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Civil Service Employee Policy is holding a workshop in October bringing together mental health first-aiders from a range of departments. This will consider what further guidance and support would be helpful to support this role. Thank you for taking it on.

  31. Comment by S posted on

    This is hopefully a huge step forward, as it would appear from a senoir management perpsective that health and wellbeing at work presently does not fit into the all important business needs!. Personally I would like to see staff wellbeing form part of the business needs structure and place more responsibility on managers to ensure staff come first. And when it is found management have contributed to the persons illness they are held to account for their actions.

  32. Comment by ian posted on

    i currently work for the prison service and i am trying to help improve staff wellbeing at my establishment. Currently, I am completing a Stress Management diploma, I would be grateful for people to advise other courses i can complete to increase my knowledge base or even better, give me your e mail addresses so i can correspond with you as you all seem so much more experienced than i in this area. much appreaciated, ian

    • Replies to ian>

      Comment by Stacie posted on

      Ian- there are some free e-learning modules that you can complete on the Acas website. There is a 'Mental Health Awareness for Employers' which could be an interesting starting point. You can find them here: https://elearning.acas.org.uk/

    • Replies to ian>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      There is some great learning available through Civil Service Learning, such as “Mental health awareness” and “Wellbeing, resilience and stress”.

  33. Comment by Stacie posted on

    Hi Jonathan

    I would be really interested in following what you get up to. Will you be blogging about your progress or sending out emails?

    We have been working on health and well-being in our office and I am constantly looking for new ideas. It would be beneficial to have a forum where civil service offices can share ideas of things that have/haven't worked. Is this something that you have thought about?

    • Replies to Stacie>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Hi Stacie, I will share key updates via blogs. The Cross-Government Group for Well-being meets on a bi-monthly basis to share ideas and initiatives across departments. If you want to find out more about the group and also who your departmental contact is, please drop an email to contact.us@csep.gov.uk

  34. Comment by Carys posted on

    Hi Jonathan,

    I'm a member of the recently developed Equality and Diversity Working Group at the Youth Justice Board. We would love to make links with you as we're very keen to promote Health and Well-Being here to ensure our colleagues have access to opportunities that will best support them. Mental Health is also very big on our agenda and we take the time to promote knowledge and understanding in order to break any stigma. If linking in with us is something you'd be interested in (which I really hope it is) that would be great and I would very much look forward to hearing from you.

    • Replies to Carys>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks Carys, this sounds like an interesting piece of work. Mental health is one of the leading well-being priorities for the Civil Service. If you send an email to contact.us@csep.gov.uk, my team In Civil Service Employee Policy would be happy to talk to you.

  35. Comment by Lindsay Watt posted on

    Jonathan
    Great to have you as the Civil Service Health and Well-being Champion.
    Within DWP, we recognised that money worries can impact on staff's health and well-being. To alleviate this, we have partnered with 3 leading UK credit unions to offer an ethical savings and loans service to staff via payroll deduction.
    We’ve had over 1300 staff sign up already since the initiative’s launch in July which clearly shows demand.
    We are now engaging with Civil Service Employee Policy colleagues to see if we can replicate the initiative wthin other government departments. We'd really welcome an opportunity to speak to you further about this to enlist your endorsement and ongoing support.

    • Replies to Lindsay Watt>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Many thanks Lindsay. I am interested to hear about this work and will ensure Civil Service Employee Policy keeps me in touch with developments.

  36. Comment by Paul posted on

    Hi Johnathan, congratulations on this really important role. I work for the Legal Aid Agency and we are undertaking an external wellbeing accreditation programme and I would be delighted to share what we are doing, how we are going about it and our best practices with you at any point you are available. Paul

    • Replies to Paul>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      Thanks Paul, this sounds like an interesting piece of work. If you send an email to contact.us@csep.gov.uk, my team would be happy to talk to you.

  37. Comment by Agnes posted on

    This is a great initiative, Jonathan, and I wish you well.

    I do not doubt the sincerity of the commitment but I have found that staff needing support tend to be penalised through the performance assessment process even where they have achieved all their objectives.

    To give an example, I had an extreme physical reaction to a shock earlier this year. I was able to work from home and my doctor gave me the choice of doing that or being signed off. I chose with the agreement of my manager to work from home. No-one had to provide cover. Yet I was criticised at the end of the year for this. It doesn't make any sense to me. I haven't chosen to tell other staff because I think it would make them even more reluctant to ask for any kind of support, even the ability to work from home.

    I suppose my point is that there needs to be a lot more training for managers (including very senior) before individuals will feel confident to seek support.

    Thank you.

    • Replies to Agnes>

      Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

      I shouldn’t comment here on individual cases but I take your point about the need for appropriate training and support for managers.

  38. Comment by Jane Abraham posted on

    Hi Jonathon. It is good to hear that the Civil service is trying to be an exemplar employer. I work in the Employer Team of the Work and Health unit as a Policy Fellow and we are looking at the evidence base around 'what works in work', especially for MSK and mental health. I would be happy to have a chat if you are interested?
    Jane

  39. Comment by Pete Stam posted on

    Hi Jonathon

    Can you tell me what the policy is on workplace gyms and the people who run them are? I am the Gym manager for a HMRC gym in Bootle Liverpool and I run lunchtime classes for our members as well as maintain a large workplace gym in a HMRC building. I keep reading how much everyone is committed to Health and Wellbeing and so they should as the benefits to the workforce is incalcuable, however all I seem to get are barriers -I've been told that any time taken will have to be in my own time and the gym is a "private club" despite it being exclusively for HMRC employees and in a HMRC building.

  40. Comment by Jonathan Jones posted on

    Hi Jane, this sounds like an interesting piece of work and I am keen that we use evidence-based well-being interventions. If you send an email to contact.us@csep.gov.uk, my team would be happy to talk to you about the work you are doing.