As a manager, an important part of our role is to promote and safeguard the health and wellbeing of our employees.
Some employees can find it difficult to talk about their health in the workplace.
A Wellness Action Plan (WAP) is a tool that can be used to help initiate a conversation between an employee and manager about strategies to promote optimal wellbeing in the workplace.
A WAP can be used to support mental health and wellbeing at work. A WAP is a proactive tool that helps promote wellbeing and engagement with health-benefiting behaviours. WAPs are for everyone, regardless of current experience of illness symptoms. The WAP is adapted from the Wellness Recover Action Plan® (WRAP®) created by Mary Ellen Copeland, which is an evidence-based tool used across the world for those managing their mental health.
The WAP is personalised practical tool for everyone to use. The WAP encourages employees to consider and identify what keeps them well at work, the potential causes of poor health and highlighting ways to address any health issues whilst at work. A WAP allows for conversation around wellbeing with employees, supervisors and managers. WAPs allow for employee needs and experiences to be understood, such as working and communication style, stress triggers and responses; enabling better support for wellbeing which results in improved job satisfaction, increased productivity and better performance.
The WAP is a brilliant tool for assessing employees with an ‘untraditional’ working environment, such as location independent workers, shift workers or factory-based members of staff, as WAPs can identify how their manager can best support the employee to overcome barriers that may be evident. WAPs can also be used during the return to work process if the employee has been off due to ill-health. The WAP provides structure for conversations linked to reasonable adjustments and support that might be needed.
A WAP is not a legal document, but an agreement between an employee and their manager. The WAP is written and owned by the employee. It is the manager’s role to discuss the plan with the employee and provide support, which includes guidance on any reasonable adjustments needed. This should be a collaborative process, led by the employee.
The WAP should be confidential; however, a discussion will be needed around how it will be used and an agreement on who the WAP will be viewed by. A regular review of the WAP allows for any changes or new approaches needed. If the employee takes ownership of this and is proactive, it may help an employee feel more in control of their health at work.
The Wellness Action Plan can be used to promote and safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees by identifying ownership and responsibility and highlighting the support that employees need from us as managers. Give it a go and see the benefits for yourself.
MHFA England: MHFA Line Managers’ Resource
MIND: Wellness Action Plans