NTW adopts proactive approach to occupational health
“By enabling us to help employees recover while they’re still in work, PAM OH has helped us to significantly reduce sickness absence.”
Victoria Bullerwell, Director of Workforce and Engagement, NTW Solutions
By helping employees to overcome musculoskeletal and mental health issues as quickly as possible, NTW solutions has been able to support staff wellbeing and boost employee engagement and loyalty.
Victoria Bullerwell, director of workforce and engagement for NTW Solutions explains, “As a limited company providing essential services to the NHS, our people are vital to delivering good patient care. Instead of waiting for staff to call in sick before looking at what we could do to help get staff back to work, we wanted to adopt a more proactive approach. That way we could support our people at the earliest niggle to help them stay in work.”
She adds, “We were also aware of the impact that the cost-of-living crisis was having on some of our staff and wanted to do more to support them before the very real challenges presented made them unwell with stress or anxiety. The overall aim was to reduce sickness absence and staff replacement costs and make people feel cared for to boost our reputation as a great and inclusive place to work.”
“We wanted to support our people to stay in work.”
Following an in-depth tender process, NTW appointed PAM OH Solutions to support their strategy. “Instead of waiting until people were off sick to engage them with occupational health, PAM OH were keen to help us nip problems in the bud by seeing people while they were still in work. This allowed managers to refer anyone who didn’t feel right in themselves into occupational health, while they were still in work, so they could be seen by a relevant clinician within a matter of days. A report would then be provided back to the manager with details on how best to support them to stay in work.”
She adds, “To help us support both physical and mental health, the solution put forward by PAM OH also included access to some outstanding helplines. The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), PAM Assist, included telephone access to financial, legal, debt and emotional support, including up to six counselling sessions. While the physio information line (PhIL) was staffed by musculoskeletal (MSK) clinicians who could provide exercises and advice to help anyone struggling with joint or muscle pain.”
A day-one absence service was also included, to put employees in touch with a clinician should they have to call in sick. Finally, an enhanced trauma support counselling service was also added to support employees who needed more in-depth help to overcome exposure to a traumatic situation.
To launch the new approach, PAM OH ran a session for the leadership team, featuring statistics on the benefits of early intervention. “It was really important to get the senior team on board, because we knew if we could get buy-in for a more proactive approach to reducing absence from the top, this would filter down the organisation,” says Victoria.
Managers were then trained on the importance of supporting people with health issues to stay in work and how to refer someone into occupational health. “We knew the success of the initiative was dependent on getting managers to direct employees to use the support services in place,” explains Victoria. “We talked about the importance of early intervention and making reasonable adjustments to stop someone’s health deteriorating, so they could recover instead of having to go off sick.”
NTW Solutions also communicated with employees direct, using weekly emails and team briefings to promote the enhanced occupational health support as valuable employee benefit. “Our people see the support provided by PAM OH as a great perk of working for us,” says Victoria.” “Now, at the first sign of back pain, cleaning and porter staff are referred into physio and given exercises and reasonable adjustments, such as a break from hoovering, so they can continue to work while they recover.”
Employees who were struggling with their financial wellbeing have also been referred into PAM’s welfare advisor, who told them about state benefits worth hundreds of pounds that they didn’t know they were entitled to claim. Others have been utilising the PAM Assist employee wellbeing app to access tips on reducing energy costs. All of which has gone a long way towards reducing anxiety linked to the cost of living.”
Thanks to the proactive approach put in place, the vast majority of employees are now being referred into occupational health while they’re still in work. “By enabling us to help employees recover while they’re still in work, PAM OH has helped us to significantly reduce sickness absence and generate substantial cost savings.”
She adds, “In the event that they have to call in sick, the day one absence line has been a game changer. After talking to PAM OH, many employees have been able to access physio or counselling the next day, when this would have taken months via their GP,” says Victoria.
She adds, “Most important of all, employees feel cared for and are able to go the extra mile, which they wouldn’t be able to do if they were stressed or worried or in pain. Our customers are greeted with a smile and our patients have nice clean hospital wards. It’s absolutely helping us to attract and retain people. Our people know we value their wellbeing and everyone who has accessed the support had a positive experience.”
Managers also feel supported and are consulted before any adjustments are put forward, to make sure these are practical and actionable. “We now see PAM OH as part of our organisation,” concludes Victoria. “They understand our organisation and provide seamless access to a wide range of integrated services, so employees have all the support they need to stay health or recover if they get sick.”
“It’s helping to attract and retain people. Our people know we value their wellbeing and everyone who has accessed the support had a positive experience.”
Victoria Bullerwell, Director of Workforce and Engagement, NTW