How to Proactively Promote Employee Wellbeing in the Public Sector

APRIL 2019 SAW THE  RELEASE OF CIPD's ANNUAL Health and Wellbeing at Work survey.

It found that even though most organisations in the public sector are engaging in activities to improve employee wellbeing, nearly two-fifths of those surveyed reported their organisation is much more reactive than proactive.

By shifting towards a more proactive programme and conducting a critical evaluation of your current activity, you will not only benefit from continuous improvement, but organisations will also be much more likely to achieve positive organisational outcomes.

With the CIPD’s survey in mind, let's run through some practical steps that can be taken to transition your programme from reactive to proactive:

  1. Work with senior leaders and managers

  2. Raise awareness

  3. Promote two-way communication

  4. Support a positive work/life balance

Work with senior leaders and managers

To have a successful health and wellbeing programme within your organisation, it’s vital to have your senior members display a vested interest. After all, positive behaviours flow from the top-down in any organisation; so, having senior management buy into your programme is essential.

Without their commitment to proactively encourage healthy working habits, such as taking regular breaks and leaving work on time, it can be easy for good intentions to be lost due to issues within the company’s culture.

If the HR team are working to roll out initiatives to help encourage positive wellbeing, but managers are emailing employees at all hours of the day and working through the weekends, these habits will inevitably trickle through the company and become the norm before you know it.

Working with the senior members to recognise these trends and have the skills and support in place to feel confident in finding a solution to address the causes of these habits is a proactive approach to creating a better workplace environment for all members of staff.

Managers and senior leaderships teams can actively encourage their teams to adopt healthier habits by working sensible hours, taking full lunch breaks, taking annual leave, resting and recuperating after busy periods.

Raise awareness

Once you have the commitment needed from your management team, they will be able to start challenging the stigma of poor wellbeing or create a positive working environment that encourages an open dialogue between their team and senior leaders to address issues.

It will not always be easy for an employee to feel comfortable discussing any mental health issues. So, it will be down to the managers to promote employees to open up before these pressures become more damaging.

The most common causes of stress-related problems in the public sector tend to be workload, organisational change or restructuring, and management style. By supporting your employees to work together and share concerns or challenges across the organisation, more can be done to highlight areas of the business that need addressing to avoid stress in the future.

Promote two-way communication

When staff feel involved and well-informed, it increases their motivation and helps with their understanding of how their role fits into the bigger picture of the business.

By making sure all members of staff understand the vision and strategic direction of the company, you provide a sense of job security and understanding of how the individual's role drives the business forward.

By encouraging feedback and involving the team in the solving of the problem, morale and productivity levels increase as staff have a sense of ownership and feel listened to.


For example, if your business plans to make any operational changes such as software usage, processes or similar, allow those who will be affected by these changes to be part of these discussions so that any issues or concerns can be managed and dealt with before they become a stressor.

If you aren't already, start implementing regular check-ins with teams to see what areas of their roles are causing stress so that these can be reviewed and addressed. This can be helpful to be done in a team meeting, where shared experiences or views can be aired and listened to so that the real causes can be identified and solved more easily.

You can also help allow employees to feel more confident and well equipped to perform their roles within the business by creating opportunities for coaching, learning and development within your organisation.

If they know that asking for help can lead to valuable training and support, they can gain more confidence and develop capabilities. Providing employees with the resources needed to tackle challenging elements within their role will keep them motivated through their self-development.

Support a positive work/life balance

Some of the first signs of stress in the workplace can be from work encroaching into your employee's personal life.

To take proactive actions to support a positive work/life balance, many organisations have found flexible hours extremely helpful. It's essential to recognise that employees are individuals with their own lives and commitments.

Allowing flexibility in how their working hours fit around their needs, be it starting late so they can attend an exercise class or working earlier so they can pick their kids up from school, can help relieve some pressures from their day-to-day routine.

Take your first steps towards a more proactive wellbeing programme by taking stock on how your current initiative is performing.

Download your free employee benefits and wellbeing survey template so you can effectively evaluate your current offering and see where what can be improved.

Review your current employee benefits programme - download your free survey template