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Civil Service

Thriving at Work - Civil Service update

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A great place to work, Health & Wellbeing
Detail from Thriving at work report front cover, with part of a stylised flower petal design and the words: 'Thriving at work. The Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers.'
Detail from the front cover of the 'Thriving at Work' report

We are two years on from the Thriving at Work review of how employers can better support all employees, including those with poor mental health, to remain in and thrive at work. 

The Civil Service was the first major employer to commit to implementing all its recommendations to create a culture of health and wellbeing. Having just returned from maternity leave to my role as Director of Mental Health, Dementia & Disabilities, at the Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC), it’s great to see mental health and wellbeing receiving such prominence across government departments.

Jonathan Jones, the Civil Service Health and Wellbeing Champion, and his Senior Steering Group have been the driving force in making this happen. All departments have health and wellbeing on their agendas and are accountable for mental health support in the workplace. The benchmarking to track our progress is complete, let’s look at the results...

The Civil Service will fully meet the Thriving at Work standards by April 2020. This will not be the end of our journey, but a continuation of a new way of working on the delivery of our mental health at work commitment.

Our strengths are leadership and accountability for mental health in the workplace, using wellbeing data to inform decision-making, and providing inclusive and healthy working environments and support services to help people stay well and flourish.

Sharing personal stories has changed the culture and made it easier to talk about mental health. However, managers need the tools and confidence to identify workplace stressors and support people when they are struggling. 

Building this openness and trust into the employee lifecycle can enhance leadership and people management, teamwork, recruitment and career development. A working environment that can and should empower everyone to look after their wellbeing. 

Civil Service departments are publishing their achievements on disability, mental health and wellbeing on their departmental pages on GOV.UK. Here is a selection.

Departmental achievements 

  • As the DHSC is responsible for supporting people to live healthier and more independent lives for longer, it has to be a leading employer in mental health. There is improved bereavement support; new mindfulness drop-in sessions; a network of health and wellbeing advocates and a ‘This is Me’ film to help make it easier to talk about mental health.

  • The Department for Transport has championed flexible working, and its open culture around mental health and inclusion has made its Be Yourself at Work campaign more than just a slogan on inclusion. People have invested in it by sharing stories, wearing something that expressed their personality and getting involved in the ‘Be Yourself’ video challenge to celebrate the power of diversity.

  • HM Revenue & Customs doubled the number of Mental Health Advocates (MHA) ensuring more colleagues can speak to an MHA face to face, supported the growth of the Mental Health Network, and improved access to mental health and wellbeing support via a new Wellbeing Matters intranet hub.

  • The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government received positive feedback on its new Brilliant Manager workshop, which covers how to delegate, give and receive feedback, be an effective coach and support employees experiencing mental ill health.

  • The Home Office appointed senior wellbeing and mental health champions to embed its health and wellbeing strategy, introduced wellbeing audits, and collaborated with staff networks to create a wellbeing culture.

  • The Ministry of Justice has developed a health and wellbeing dashboard to measure the impact of wellbeing interventions and understand how employees feel. This analysis can make employee wellbeing a more tangible strategy, as its influence on employee relations and performance becomes easier to gauge.

Delivering change and international wellbeing

The Civil Service has a global workforce to care for.

  • The Foreign & Commonwealth Office embraces the ‘Who We Are’ values of respect, expertise, resilience, creativity, courage and public service in the way they work. It is this “globally consistent, locally meaningful” approach to living the values that enables people to reap the benefits, wherever they are based.

  • The Department for International Trade has wellbeing-confident leaders across the UK and overseas. The conversations and personal stories, wellbeing advocates and national wellbeing campaigns are beginning to tackle the stigma of mental health in the workplace.

Sharing and comments

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  1. Comment by Paul Carter posted on

    Mike - I work in the Civil Service Health & Wellbeing Team. Thank you for sharing your concerns on the importance of tackling work-related stress, which is a priority for all departments. Headlines and trends can help departments gauge the impact of health and wellbeing strategies and interventions. The aim is to use this information to engage with people to understand how they are feeling and address their workplace stressors. I encourage you to engage with your wellbeing or mental health network or speak to your managers or HR about this situation so a joined-up approach can be taken to employee wellbeing. If you have cross-government concerns about employee stress then please speak to your Wellbeing & Attendance Network representative.

  2. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you for this update. It is encouraging that the Civil Service continues to focus on the Wellbeing Agenda. Certainly within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we are fortunate to have a proactive Wellbeing Network Staff Association, a supportive Senior Sponsor in Julia Longbottom and a great level of support from the FCO Senior Management. We seek to engage with colleagues both here in the UK and on our Global Platform through the regular posting of wellbeing related blogs and the monthly publication of a Wellbeing Masterclass Newsletter. Here in London we have assisted with the setting up of a Running Club that is inclusive to ALL Whitehall Departments, look to offer monthly staff walks through St James Park, etc.

  3. Comment by Mike posted on

    All welcomed for staff who are facing some of the highest stress levels in government. The department sets great store by the people survey and extols the virtue of feedback and driving up scores. I don't recall any areas of focus around how staff are actually feeling, what are the aspects of the job that lead to their stress and impact their well being, do they feel that managers are able to support them if they are suffering from stress. Perhaps we need to join up some of these dip sample activities?