Health and Wellbeing

A Health Check for Your Healthy Activities – the Health and Wellbeing Award

This is a copy of an article I wrote for the wonderful people at who work with their clients and some associate trainers – including me – to bring in activities and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of the workforce.

They asked me to write it because I am a specialist assessor and adviser for this recently-upgraded Standard.

You have probably already heard about the Investors in People Standard.  Have you also heard of its close relative the Health and Wellbeing Award ?  It is structured the same and is driven by the same spirit, aiming to improve an organisation’s performance through realising the full potential of the people who produce the results.

For context, we need a brief look at Investors in People first, before examining the Health and Wellbeing Award.  It is a structured method for organisations of all types to measure the extent to which four key ingredients of success apply.  These are:

  • Clear goals
  • Learning is part of the job
  • Good leadership
  • Involved people

If you think these apply to your organisation at all levels – individual, department/team and organisation – you are most likely already an Investors in People in most respects.  You should bear in mind, though, that most of the evidence is gathered by talking to your people.  It is therefore perception-based.  There is often a gap between the reality which managers see and that which the rest of their team perceives.  Analysing this gap is one of the main benefits of the process.

Many smaller organisations use the framework as a means to follow the disciplines to improve their performance.  They do this to gain insight, with no intention of seeking accreditation, and this approach helps them achieve their aims.

The same applies to the Health and Wellbeing Award.  The framework itself simply takes three of the nine Indicators from Investors in People – those dedicated to Leadership, Empowerment and Values – and adds to them a similarly-structured set of criteria around physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

Increasingly rigorous criteria

The detailed criteria describe four different levels of practice which range from “in place and understood” through “engaging and activating” and “creating positive outcomes” up to “embedded and always improving”.

Here are two examples of how the framework can be used to examine aspects of current practice :

If we take the theme of Psychological Wellbeing, the criterion at the “in place and understood” level reads :

The organisation promotes psychological wellbeing through preventative and responsive policies and practices

Once the positive evidence for this has been debated and captured, the process moves on to look at the more advanced levels until, at the “embedded and always improving” level, you have the following, much more testing, wording :

Leaders create a strong culture which supports psychological wellbeing, equipping people with tools and techniques for everyday life

At this level, you have to prove not only that leaders conduct themselves in a way that demonstrates meaningful support, you also have to gives examples of tools being provided which people confirm they use not only in work but in their personal lives as well.

As this level is supposed to indicate top-class practice, it is expected that the organisation has been doing these things, with positive outcomes, for three years at least.

The importance of leadership in health and wellbeing

If we acknowledge the importance of leadership, let us take the theme of Developing Leadership Capability, one of the three themes within the indicator called Leading and Inspiring People.  We drill down to the first criterion at “In place and understood” level and we find the requirement that :

Line managers know what is expected of them to lead, manage and develop their people effectively

Once a clear definition has been found that is consistently expressed and implemented within e.g. management development and performance management systems, we can look higher and deeper until, at the “Embedded and always improving” level, we are required to show that :

Future leadership capabilities are defined in line with the organisation’s values, and leaders meet these challenges”.

This makes us think about looking strategically into the future at what our leaders will need to be good at to support sustained success.  It may mean getting out the crystal ball and anticipating change and the pressures this will create.

Improvement through benchmarking

One outcome of such an exercise of gathering data is a structured list of all the great things going on, and it is important to celebrate these.  More importantly, organisations who really know what continuous improvement is about will be interested in the list of opportunities for further development that such a rigorous process has highlighted.

The good news is that there are many different ways the framework can be used, to suit different organisations.  You can appoint internal champions and use them to gather evidence and report back, you can design your own survey, or – if you want the process to be as free of bias as possible – you can ask an independent expert to design and deliver a programme for you.  If external recognition is your desired outcome, you can plan a project to help you meet the requirements and apply for accreditation.

As long as you can show positive evidence to meet all of the criteria at the “in place and understood” level, you can gain the Health and Wellbeing Award, showing to your people and to the outside world the kind of employer you are.  Either way, you receive feedback for future improvement.

It is a valuable way to check that all the wonderful things you are doing for your people are :

  • appreciated
  • helping your organisation perform better
  • in line with recognised good practice

You can find further detail at

Link to the original article