Developing your strategy


This page provides information and resources for health and wellbeing leads and others to help further embed health and wellbeing in the NHS. 


Developing and implementing a health and wellbeing strategy 

Adopting a strategic approach to employee health and wellbeing has shown to be an important factor in achieving sustained business benefits. This section provides you with an insight into developing a strategic approach to health and wellbeing, by providing examples of trust health and wellbeing strategies for you to adapt and tailor to the needs of your organisation. 

Health and wellbeing strategies are often underpinned by a primary focus – reducing sickness absence. A key challenge for a health and wellbeing strategy is to go beyond that core objective. There are several national frameworks, including the National Institute for Care Excellence guidance and the workplace wellbeing charter, that can help you shape your strategy and give you direction if you're not sure where to start. For more information see our national frameworks web page.

Key stages in development

The key stages in producing a comprehensive strategy are:

  • gain board-level approval
  • assess needs 
  • formulate strategy (where necessary, or look for synergy between policies) 
  • consult employees 
  • implement strategy 
  • monitor and evaluate.

Your organisation’s implementation of its health and wellbeing strategy should be systematic, core to the management and operation of the organisation, relevant to all stakeholders, flexible enough to change with a changing organisation, good for staff, patients and the organisation and intended for the long term. It is integral that you gain board engagement in order to get support from board to ward and develop a supportive organisational culture. Building a successful health and wellbeing business case is a great way to do this.

Crucially, it should be based on the needs of the organisation and support the achievement of the organisation’s strategic aims.

Assessing need

Any strategy should be based on the assessed needs of the organisation. Some organisations may carry out a needs assessment among staff. This could involve using a questionnaire, analysing the results from the NHS Staff Survey or holding a health fair where participants answer an agreed set of questions.

Research commissioned by the sub group of the staff council, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Partnership Group (previously known as POSHH), looked into the organisational factors thatimpact on employee health and wellbeing. This research identified that some factors had a greater impact than others. Organisations may wish to consider these when looking at strategic health and wellbeing interventions.

These key factors are:
  • positive team culture 
  • supportive manager behaviour 
  • positive contribution 
  • participation/being kept informed.
Staff groups and trade unions should be involved in the development of the strategy. These groups and staff representatives often have a wealth of information and good practice that they can bring to the table during the development stage.

Organisations that have developed and implemented successful health and wellbeing strategies often have consulted with employees at the start of the process and throughout. This helps to ensure that employees are engaged and understand what the organisation is trying to achieve and that the strategy is matched to their needs. Involving all staff is key – this means all staff groups and levels, from the board to nursing staff to the catering staff. You may want to pay particular attention to staff groups that are more difficult to engage with, such as medical staff, staff who work shifts and staff who work at remote sites.

Implement strategy

Most organisations form a project group made up of a mix of staff, management and trade union representatives to take forward the development of the workplace health strategy.

When putting this group together, you will need to agree on the answers to a number of initial questions:

  • What is the purpose of the group – what are you tasked with achieving? 
  • What will be the benefits to the organisation? 
  • How does this work support the values of the organisation? 
  • What are the aims and objectives – are they realistic and can they be met? 
  • What are the expected outcomes? 
  • How will you measure progress? 
  • How will you report progress? 
  • How will you review the strategy? 
  • How will this link to the organisation’s corporate objectives? How will you show this?
Assessing where the organisation is at the start of this process and looking at what is already in place and available to build upon is an important stage in the development of the strategy.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance for workplace wellbeing. The NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework can be used to help implement the NICE guidance and improve your staff's health and wellbeing.

Monitor and evaluate

Evaluation of health and wellbeing interventions is crucial to achieving sustained organisational support. This is an area which is often overlooked when implementing initiatives. However, as resources become more and more difficult to secure, it becomes even more important for you to be able to demonstrate the impact and effectiveness of health and wellbeing. It is also something that you need to build into your strategy before you start implementing your interventions, not after. For more information about how to evaluate health and wellbeing interventions, see our sustaining the momentum web pages.

Good practice

We have worked extensively with organisations achieving successes in health and wellbeing to develop good practice case studies based on work to embed health and wellbeing over a number of years. For more information visit our case study resource library.

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