How can we have healthier workplaces?

This was one of the challenges that we recently put to the 32 London Clinical Commissioning Groups, the NHS bodies responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for their local area. We used a crowdsourcing platform for this, called HealthWorks, and it was a fascinating insight into the health of the people who care for our health.

We were after a range of ideas – from quick wins that could be implemented tomorrow at little cost to more imaginative ideas that could have a huge effect on workplace health and wellbeing in the longer term. This is a big subject of course, ranging from promoting healthy eating or physical activity to looking after mental health and reducing smoking and alcohol. We were also trying to discover ways in which managers can support a healthier workplace with the right leadership and resources.

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The community was run on behalf of NHS England and in collaboration with Uscreates, the health and wellbeing design specialists. Together, we ran this as a pop-up community to research new insights and stimulate fresh ideas. One of the driving forces behind this initiative was the Healthy London Partnership and their model is to spread better habits and ideas throughout the capital city. So where better to start than with NHS employees themselves? This group of people, it turns out, aren’t paragons of healthy virtue, but they’re rather like you and me.

They do however have lots of good ideas! In 5 short weeks HealthWorks generated 135 powerful ideas and over 500 conversations. There were almost 5,000 post views too. This was important because people were swapping their own tips and others changing their behaviours as a result of this information sharing. 9 new concepts were generated and 3 CCGs were supported to develop these into health-transforming projects.

The thing about having a healthier workplace it seems is not to ignore the obvious stuff like bike clubs, eating healthily together, using the stairs and setting up lunchtime yoga. The trick is to talk about it and then simply start.

I have noticed a reduction in 100%Open’s daily biscuit tonnage after this project, we’re getting a mindfulness expert in and most of us went home on time today. This stuff works!


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