by Jess Elmore, Deputy Head of Research at Learning and Work Institute
Learning and Work Institute recently evaluated Welsh Government’s Healthy Working Wales: In-Work Support Service (IWS). The evaluation sought to glean key lessons from the project that focussed on South West and North West Wales ahead of a nation-wide rollout.
IWS was a Welsh Government and European Social Fund funded programme. It aimed to help people manage their health and stay in work. This was through early intervention, providing workers with rapid free access to a range of practical, personalised support and therapies to address barriers including mental health and musculoskeletal conditions. It also provided free advice, guidance, and training for employers so they could better support their workforce’s health and wellbeing.
IWS started in September 2015 with the aim of tackling poverty and social exclusion. The intervening years encompassing the pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis and a rise in labour market inactivity have made the need for a service that helps people stay in work ever more critical.
Our report outlines how participants and employers valued the service, and identifies important learnings for similar services. Three key lessons were:
The service offered a tailored support offer, and flexibilities including the number and frequency of sessions, whether the support was online or face to face, a choice of therapist, and a choice of language. The delivery model could be further extended by looking at wider participant needs such as domestic abuse or debt management, and building in more preventative activities such as well-being or stress management workshops.
Small and medium enterprises are less likely to have resources such as Occupational Health services or HR to support employees’ health and well-being, and are particularly likely to benefit from support. This should include:
Promotion of the service was a challenge and successful strategies to overcome could include: