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How creating a healthy work force makes all the difference

By Super Admin
By Deborah Astles, Unipart — Unipart Group is one of Europe’s leading private manufacturing, logistics and consultancy companies and we often get asked how we went about creating our wellbeing programme, ‘Unipart Workwell’, which encourages and supports employees, and line managers to take personal responsibility for their health and wellbeing, and to recognise how their actions impact on others around them. This programme was winner of the Bupa Wellbeing at Work category at Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards in 2016, and continues to invest in staff capability to promote wellbeing.  
Unipart is a diverse group of companies covering a wide range of activities in different sectors and different locations. The demographics across our sites are variable, so we knew that a ‘one size fits all’ approach, seen to be ‘imposed by head office’, would not work. Instead, we harnessed the enthusiasm and local knowledge of site champions and empowered them to set local priorities and tailor the programme to meet the specific needs on their sites. 
Our wellbeing programme, Unipart Workwell, engaged over 2,000 people, around a third of all our employees, to participate in wellbeing events, including gym and fitness sessions and health checks, expert presentations about heart health and cancer risks, workshops on managing stress and stop smoking clinics. We rolled out mental health awareness training, starting with a pilot for over 100 HR professionals and managers, and created Unipart Cares, our Employee Assistance Provider, which has been actively promoted to staff to encourage personal responsibility for wellbeing. 
Unipart already had a successful employee engagement strategy in place, and built on this as well as establishing clear branding and visuals for the wellbeing programme. The group used an email newsletter, office noticeboards, posters, leaflets, intranet, training and events to engage staff. Senior leadership is crucial to demonstrate that there is buy-in. Unipart Workwell is regularly endorsed by the Group Chief Executive in a monthly corporate video. 
It is important for employees to be able to contribute to the ongoing development of wellbeing programmes. Unipart Workwell is a regular item on our Employee Forum agenda, with discussion fed back to the Wellbeing Steering Group via local HR teams. Site Champions invite anecdotal feedback, employees are invited to respond to regular Unipart Workwell emails with ideas and comments, and feedback questionnaires are used at events. 
We have seen tangible impact from this activity. The company has seen a year-on-year increase in employee engagement levels and reduced absence, making an estimated saving of £330,000. The programme has also strengthened Unipart’s reputation as one of the safest companies in the world to work for, by contributing to us winning the British Safety Council Swords of Honour in 2016.
My advice to businesses – big and small – is to first look at what other companies are doing. We used an existing wellbeing model considered the gold standard and adapted it to suit our needs.  It’s essential you give it a clear strategy statement and an identity, which needs to be used consistently across your business.  
I would also advise businesses to work with their local authorities as they give access to free resources and expertise. Since launching Unipart Workwell, we have started a network of wellbeing professionals in the Oxfordshire area linking us to other organisations so we can share best practice and learn?from each other.
Companies don’t need to spend a great deal of money to get wellbeing right. Unipart Workwell complimented our existing engagement channels to get our people on board and make it a success.
I always said that if our programme made our employees say that Unipart cares about them as an individual, then that would be “job done”. You can imagine then how immensely proud I was that our Unipart Workwell programme not only did this but it also delivered savings for the business and winning nationally recognised awards! 
Deborah Astles is HR Director, Corporate Responsibility and Policy, Unipart
Unipart Group was the winner of the?Bupa?Wellbeing at Work Award at Business in the Community’s  Responsible Business Awards last year. The shortlist for the 2017 awards is available on at www.bitc.org.uk.