Health and wellbeing are essential to making Thames Water a better place to work. We make sure standards are in place, and regularly reviewed, in order to help protect everyone from short-term and long-term occupational health conditions. We also provide everyone with key information to help achieve our vision of Zero harm, and enable those who work for us to make lifestyle choices that can lead to long-term health benefits.
We recognise that a positive workplace and lifestyle factors lead to healthier, happier people with fewer health and safety issues. Our health and wellbeing strategy is based on four distinct areas – worker, workplace, wellbeing and the wider community. We’re striving to be industry leading in health, safety and wellbeing and we’re continuing to place great importance on proactive prevention of exposure to risks, while creating an environment where all our people can improve their own health and wellbeing by making informed choices.
Our objectives last year addressed mental health, physical health and health screening. Developing and launching our innovative mental health strategy, Time to Talk, has been influential in our progress in removing the stigma around mental health at work. In addition, we were able to increase uptake of our personal medical assessments for the fourth year running, as well as organising 57 activities during Water Wellbeing Week which over 20 per cent of our workforce were able to participate in a new activity.
Our wellbeing initiatives.
Over half of our employees attended a PMA last year, during which over 20 per cent were found to be suffering from silent but potentially life threatening health issues, and were subsequently referred to their GPs for further investigation and treatment. Since PMAs began in 2013, we have had over 100 abnormal prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood results requiring further investigation and know of a confirmed 13 cases of early prostate cancer amongst our employees, who have all been able to access treatment prior to showing any symptoms. New sessions to support weight loss and quitting smoking have also been introduced as part of the wellbeing programme. We also offer a cycle to work scheme and access to fitness and wellbeing discounts.
Water Wellbeing Week in October 2017 focused on positive mental health and offered over 57 activities known to boost positive mental wellbeing – these included meditation, Pilates, kick boxing and board breaking. The week was extremely successful with over 20 per cent of our employees participating.
We have also facilitated physiotherapy led training sessions for employees to enhance physical resilience against injury. This includes assessments for those in operational roles and as well as those who use display screen equipment (DSE) to enhance physical resilience against musculoskeletal health problems.
Mental health awareness.
Promoting mental wellbeing has been a key focus for us. Through a sustained approach of highlighting the importance of mental health at work and our other wellbeing initiatives, we’ve seen a gradual reduction in work related mental health referrals and nearly 80 per cent reduction in time lost to illness over the last five years.
As part of our continued commitment to changing perspectives in mental health, we’ve developed a new and innovative mental health strategy, Time to Talk. We launched this in April 2017 and it is underpinned by four SPOT principles: Spotting the signs; Providing opportunities to talk; Offering a listening ear; and Talking to professional support services early. Time to Talk aims to remove the stigma around mental health at work with initiatives including mental health awareness training, open engagement forums and MIND’s Time to Change pledge.
Our innovative virtual reality training has been influential in our progress in mental health and for more information click on the case study below. During the year we have trained over 200 mental health first aiders and 507 employees have taken part in the Mind Fit mental health awareness programme.Over the past year we have recorded a 46 per cent reduction in work related mental health absence cases. We were awarded the REBA Employee Wellbeing Award 2018 for Mental Wellbeing and featured in the Thriving at Work white paper and the Shaw Trust mental health report as a result of our progress in this field.
The continuing journey.
Our positive outcomes from last year have helped define our three objectives for 2018/19:
- Pascal - develop and launch a tool that supports our “Time to Talk” strategy aimed at further removing the stigma around mental health.
- Posturize – we will enhance the understanding of workplace posture through the development and introduction of a new workstation assessment programme.
- Defeating inactivity – we will improve the support for our employees to easily access opportunities for improving their personal physical activity.