We know from member feedback that a key challenge in implementing health and wellbeing initiatives is getting staff to participate. An important learning point from our health and wellbeing events last year was that it’s good practice to involve staff at the grass roots in designing and implementing initiativesA great example of this is Network Rail, where two members of the High Output team decided to develop a new holistic programme to help improve the health and wellbeing of their colleagues. 

Network Rail employees Mick Haley and Ian Gildart felt that existing programmes often focus on nutrition and fitness but neglect the two other critical elements - sleep and mental wellbeing. Their personal experience taught them that people who are already fit think ‘I know how to stay fit and healthy, you can’t teach me any more’ but are overlooking the impact of sleep and mental health on their wellbeing. At the other end of the scalethose who don’t exercise at all can find the thought of starting a regime very daunting.   

Mick and Ian designed a programme that anyone could adopt regardless of where they’re starting out from. Available in both online and hard copy versionsthe ‘Health Challenge’ programme invites participants to undertake a confidential ‘baseline evaluation’, recording health data such as current weight and fitness, hours of sleep and levels of stress. Participants determine their objectives/goals and then embark on a series of six-week workout programmes including e.g. fitness and mindfulness exercisessleep and nutrition advice and recipes, and a final evaluation to enable the participant to see how far they have progressed. Mick and Ian presented their programme to Network Rail’s High Output Alliance Director Ben Brooks, who immediately saw the value in the programme in improving staff wellbeing both at home and at work.  He both endorsed the programme and decided to follow it himself! 

Has it worked? 

While there hasn’t been a formal evaluation yet, the anecdotal evidence is very positive. One colleague fed back that they found train travel very stressful and the breathing exercises really helped to relieve their stress.  Ben Brooks reported that the programme helped him put some discipline into his exercise and diet regime, and monitoring his hydration and sleep improved his energy levels.  And following its successful implementation at Network Rail, the programme has been rolled out nationally under the Track Safety Alliance banner and is available FREE online to anyone at https://www.tracksafetyalliance.co.uk/latest-news/track-safety-alliance-health-challenge/bp120/  

Advice on implementing effectively 

If you’re interested in implementing the programme in your own business, it’s worth investing some time up front to get staff on board.  Mick and Ian conducted a series of briefings to staff across the High Output team to explain what makes this programme different and address any questions or concerns at the very start.  They were able to reassure staff that the health data was collected and recorded by the individual themselves in total confidence, and the programme was completely adaptable to the needs of all - from beginners through to fitness enthusiasts.  Since its implementation at Network Rail the success of the programme has been recognised and it has been rolled out nationally as the ‘Track Safety Alliance Health Challenge’. 

Find out more about the Health Challenge by contacting Mick Haley at Michael.haley@networkrail.co.uk