Qualification Spotlight: NEBOSH Working with Wellbeing, what is it?

Nebosh By Matthew Coombes

Working with Wellbeing is a new qualification released by NEBOSH in March 2021, to help professionals to improve wellbeing in the scope of the workplace.

I had the pleasure of attending the first NEBOSH Working with Wellbeing course, which we delivered live over video conferencing. It was a great experience, and I’ve written this article to try and explain what the course is all about!

What does wellbeing mean?

Wellbeing has many definitions and depending on who you ask you will get a different answer, but for the purpose of this article, when I talk about wellbeing what I mean is the general feeling of physical and mental health at work and at home.

The relationship between work and our health is undeniable, and every single individual will have a different level of health and a different experience at work. Even people that do the same job can have vastly different experiences with the same stressors, tasks and responsibilities.

While fulfilling the same role…

Individual A really enjoys their job, they find that they can concentrate all day and get through all of their work, which reduces how stressed they feel about their workload. This has a positive effect on their mood throughout the day and after they’ve finished work. For individual A, work is a positive experience.

Individual B doesn’t enjoy their job, they find that they can’t concentrate at work and their workload keeps getting bigger. This makes them stressed and they take that stress home with them at the end of the day. For individual B, work is a negative experience.

The difference between how individuals experience their work makes it hard to make improvements in the workplace that will improve wellbeing for everyone.

If workers are taking stress from work home with them, this will have a negative impact on their personal life in the same way that stress from your personal life can impact your performance at work.

Employers have a responsibility to manage stress under the general duties of the Health and Safety at Work act 1974, and a duty to assess and manage risks to mental health, such as stress, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Why does wellbeing matter?

Improving the wellbeing of employees is a great way to improve productivity.

When successfully implemented, positive changes to work, workplace culture or the workplace itself will have a positive impact on the physical and mental health of workers. This has an undeniable benefit to their productivity as happier workers are often more motivated, more resilient (they deal with stress better), are better at communicating with each other, and add towards the positive workplace culture.

Physical and mental health go hand in hand, so an effective improvement to wellbeing should look to focus on both of these things.
A good example of this would be an incentive such as a subsidised bike-to-work scheme.

Improving physical health by encouraging staff to cycle to work will increase their amount of exercise which will:

  • improve cardiovascular health
  • reduce stress
  • improve mood

Improving wellbeing is a no-brainer when you think about things as simple as the immune system.

  1. Positive physical health and a positive mental health are both key factors in a strong immune system
  2. A strong immune system keeps us healthy, cold and flu free, and will result in fewer absences due to sickness
  3. Fewer absences mean fewer hours lost due to sickness
  4. Fewer hours lost due to sickness results in higher productivity
  5. Higher productivity should result in higher production

What does the course teach you?

The NEBOSH Working with Wellbeing course focuses on helping you to understand what wellbeing is, the foundations of wellbeing, and what benefits it can have in the workplace. The course uses the ‘branches of wellbeing’ as a focus point to highlight the inter-connectivity of various parts of our working lives that can be improved within the reasonable scope of the workplace.

The final section of the course is designed to teach you how to plan your own workplace interventions, and how to measure if they are successful or not.

In the same way that not everyone experiences the same role in the same way, not everyone will benefit from workplace initiatives.
For example:
You’ve decided that you’ve got the budget and resources to close early on a Friday, hooray! Instead of finishing at 5pm, the new finishing time is 3pm.

50% of staff are delighted – they walk or cycle to work so they’re going home two hours early and there’s no drawbacks!

The other 50% of staff have to drive to work. They won’t see any improvement because 3pm is when the local school run happens, so they leave work at 3pm and sit in traffic until 4:30pm – by the time they’ve gotten home, they’ve only gained 30 extra minutes and a bucket full of stress and frustration.

Why should people take this course?

Every workplace should look to have someone employed at a management or supervisory level that can enact positive changes to the workplace to improve wellbeing. Improving wellbeing has a positive impact on staff health, productivity and as we move to a more digital way of working, it is important that we focus on the impact that working has on our health to ensure that our workplaces stay prosperous and productive.

We teach Working with Wellbeing online over just one day by one of our expert tutors. It’s a great opportunity to learn something new that can help with your professional development, or help your organisation manage wellbeing.

The course content is interesting and accessible, and can help the learner to not only improve their workplace wellbeing, but also how they think about their personal health and wellbeing.

This is certainly a course that comes under practice what you preach for ACT, as we put our own health and safety advisor on the very first course that we ran, and have been continuing to develop our own approach to wellbeing within our offices.

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