The workplace health and wellbeing service 'Work Well Live Well' has been supporting workers throughout the pandemic by helping businesses improve the health, safety and wellbeing of employees within the workplace and working from home.

Health Minister Robin Swann recently launched this Public Health Agency (PHA) programme, which is being delivered by Health@Work NI in the Western Trust area and NI Chest Heart and Stroke in the rest of the region.

‘Work Well Live Well’ initially began on 1 March 2020 in order to support businesses to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of employees within the workplace. However, with the beginning of lockdown and most businesses requiring employees to work from home, the service adapted to meet the new and diverse needs of these organisations.

Supporting the initiative, Health Minister Robin Swann said:

“With changing work patterns, Work Well Live Well has been vital in working alongside businesses to help ensure a focus on the wellbeing of workers. The pandemic has been a difficult time for us all and the support that this programme has been offering has helped those in greatest need, with support targeted towards those businesses with employees at particular risk of poor physical health and emotional wellbeing, such as sedentary, low paid, migrant or other vulnerable population groups.

“Work Well Live Well is not just a service for the pandemic, but will provide vital long-term provision for the improvement of the wellbeing of our society in recovering from this crisis and beyond.”

The two contracted Service Providers for Work Well Live Well are Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke and Health@Work NI (a Developing Healthy Communities project). They will work with 250 businesses each year from throughout Northern Ireland.

As part of the scheme, businesses are asked to seek ways of engaging with their employees to assess their current health and wellbeing needs.

Janet Calvert, the PHA’s Workplace Health Lead, said:

“There has never been a more important time to be engaging with employees and supporting their health and wellbeing needs.

“We know that people’s chances of leading long and healthy lives are largely affected by the social, economic and environmental circumstances of their daily lives – and there is a clear link between work and the health of individuals and their families."

She continued:

“A good working environment, where people are protected and valued, has the potential to increase wellbeing, and effective workplace health programmes can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of employees, businesses and the communities in which people live and work.

“The support provided includes training and support for Workplace Health Champions, delivery of health information, and undertaking meaningful employee engagement.

“A workplace where the employee’s health and wellbeing is considered a priority can only lead to an increase in productivity, a reduction in sick days and to the promotion of positive relationships between employers and employees.”

Support for mental wellbeing will be of particular importance and businesses who are part of the initiative must commit to signing up to the Equality Commission Mental Health Charter and to Mental Health First Aid Training, in line with the Protect Life 2 Action plan.