Case Study: Employee Wellbeing – DoH (2) 

This content is part of the Vision for the Public Sector Zone and the Wellbeing Zone

Inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games the Department of Health tells how they worked to encourage and support the health and wellbeing of their colleagues and what they have achieved as a result.


The Department of Health wanted to use the Olympics as an opportunity for encouraging and supporting their own employees and all civil servants in achieving the CMO’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week

Key Steps

They set up a health and wellbeing stakeholder group board and invited a range of partners who were wellbeing ambassadors to lead a sustainable programme of employee support encompassing physical, emotional and workplace wellbeing. The aim was to significantly enhance employee wellbeing whilst delivering measurable benefits.

Next, in partnership with DCMS, they initiated a Civil Service Physical Activity Challenge (CSPAC) across the civil service to promote and encourage employees to achieve the CMO’s guidelines.  They also worked collaboratively with staff volunteers and external partners namely HASSRA & CSSC (their two recognised sports and social clubs).

Finally, they established a network of cross government colleagues to lead on supporting the CSPAC for their department.


A key outcome was the sharing of positive practices in developing sustainable practice enabling departments to mainstream physical activity within their employee wellbeing policies.

They also created a simple evaluation process for measuring the activity levels of employees across OGD’s, which has enabled them to compare with OGD’s and inform future interventions to maximise employee wellbeing.

The Department of Health’s wellbeing strategy is simply to ensure they offer a range of resource and support to all employees whilst recognising wellbeing means something different to each of us.

Therefore, in partnership with HASSRA, CSSC, Amateur Swimming Association,Nordic Walking WalkingUKand our own staff volunteers we have provided a full range of activities for employees in support of their overall wellbeing. Typical examples of this are, weight off workshops, zumba, Nordic walking, yoga, meditation, massages and exercise classes.

In addition, collaborating with Sustran we established Active Travel Leads for walking and cycling specifically with the Olympics in mind and encouraging alternative ways to travel to work.

Following a staff consultation we provided a health and wellbeing area at Richmond House, funded by HASSRA utilising redundant space so minimising cost.

This includes, a gym, exercise space, faith and reflection room, a nursing mothers’ room, additional showers for our runners and for our cyclists extra bike racks thus meeting the wellbeing needs of all staff.

We have embarked on a number of activity challenges this year to encourage participation and a little healthy competition with colleagues whilst raising money for charity in the process. Our CMO and Health Secretary along with a number of SCS’s have actively participated in a step challenge and a fun run promoting the Diamond Jubilee and Olympics – we encourage ‘practising what we preach’ with our leaders and this has positively endorsed our wellbeing programme.

As expected we signed up to all the Responsibility Deal pledges associated with health and work network and those appropriate to the physical activity in the workplace network. Supporting our mission to ‘practice what we preach’ beyond the department.

Alongside Westminster City Council and the ETAT (Encouragement Through The Arts) we jointly won the Partnership of the Year Award at the recent Westminster Volunteer Awards. The partnership involved a rota of volunteers from DH and WCC visiting the ETAT centre working with the elderly on arts and crafts and other stimulating activities.

We are currently working with the Time to Change Campaign to actively support removing the stigma of mental health in the workplace, again leading by example whilst appreciating the importance emotional wellbeing impacts on employees.

 “This programme of activity linked to the Public Health Responsibility Deal has enabled me to spread our message across not only OGD’s but nationally with all members of the RD.” Dame Carol Black


As a result of their programme, the Department of Health has achieved the following:

  • Average measure of employee sickness (AWDL) is 4.1 days one of the lowest across government
  • Latest staff survey question on staff wellbeing has shown an increase of five percent in positive scores
  • Membership to both CSSC and HASSRA members has increased
  • Health & Wellbeing Champions widened remit to support emotional & workplace wellbeing
  • Winners of the Partnership of the Year Award 2012 for volunteering
  • 16 OGD’s so far signed up to the CSPAC
  • Enabled the NHS to participate in the NHS Challenge, aimed at getting NHS staff active, which has potential to save 2.4 million in annual sickness costs by 2014/15
  • Free on site employee health checks
  • Exclusive access to NHSC LifeCheck tool over 1,000 employees completed
  • Provided a number of emotional mental wellbeing workshops
  • Created Knowledge centre & quiet spaces
  • HASSRA in partnership with DH provided additional physical & emotional wellbeing activities whilst  funding our latest HWB space
  • Provided annual HWB market places
  • Mental Health Advisory Group set up to promote emotional wellbeing

Employee feedback

“Thank you for introducing WOW – it’s made a huge difference to me”

“At last Nordic Walking is off the ground – you’ve made it such fun”

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