Get Started: Plan & Implement a Work-Design-for-Health Approach

The first four modules of this toolkit introduced the features of our Work Design for Health approach, and described some promising practices for workplace change that can help employers create an overall culture of health in their organizations. If you are interested in taking the next step at your organization, this module offers some concrete guidance for implementing our approach to Work Design for Health. Our guide is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but you can review it for tips and resources on starting the conversation, identifying problems, and planning, implementing, and evaluating workplace changes.

Starting the Conversation

 
  • Make the case for change within the company. In some organizations, leaders will be eager to make changes that may improve health and well-being because those investments seem consistent with the company’s values, identity, or mission. In other organizations, it is important to provide evidence that investing in employee health and well-being is good for the business. See linked resources below for ideas on how to make the business case. 

  • Ensure buy-in from all levels of leadership. Encourage a positive organizational climate of problem-solving and change. Senior leadership has influence over workplace culture and policy, though middle management is likely involved in implementing any changes, so their support is also crucial.

  • Designate a committee or steering group. This group will help direct the project and oversee its implementation. Be sure to include people from all levels of the organizational hierarchy. An inclusive steering group helps ensure support for the proposed changes among frontline employees, middle management, and senior leadership.

Helpful Resources

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Helpful Resources

 

Making the Business Case for Change

Problem Identification and Planning

  • Encourage employee participation. Include frontline employees in the process of planning, identifying workplace problems, implementation, and evaluation. A collaborative process between employees and leadership is more likely to result in meaningful changes.  

  • Examine your work environment. Consider the three principles of job redesign— support, control, and demands—as they relate to potential drivers of workplace stress. Review the other modules of this toolkit for examples of promising practices in designing workplace change.

  • Identify root causes of workplace stress. Fully understanding the cause of a problem can help you prevent it. See this resource from iSixSigma to help determine the root cause of a problem.

  • Determine your baseline. See linked resources below on assessment tools to assess your health and well-being practices as well as determine sources of stress in your workplace. Administrative data on sickness and absence, staff turnover, disciplinary action, staff complaints, and information from exit interviews can also be useful in determining your baseline.

  • Create an action plan. After you have identified potential avenues for change, prioritize one or two workplace changes related to employee health and well-being. If possible, the most significant stressors should be addressed first.

  • Aim to enhance positive health. While considering workplace changes, explore ways in which you can increase worker happiness, engagement, satisfaction, and meaning, in addition to reducing stress and ill health.

  • Consider organizational goals. Proposed changes should consider both employee well-being and organizational goals. Revisit the ways in which improving well-being can be good for business. 

Helpful Resources

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Helpful Resources

 

Organizational Readiness

  • Good Jobs Strategy Assessment – A quick survey from the Good Jobs Institute to assess your company’s urgency and leadership’s inclination for change, with results that provide a metric score and links to additional resources

  • Survey on Organizational Readiness – A survey from the Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workforce (CPH-NEW) designed for employees in a leadership position to assess organizational readiness for change

Assessment Tools (Company Level)

  • Good Jobs Strategy Diagnostic – A survey from the Good Jobs Institute designed for CEOs, executives, and managers that identifies strengths and areas for improvement in your current job strategy

  • Good Jobs Scorecard – A tool from the Good Jobs Institute that assesses your company’s performance by examining the experience of your employees and customers as well as operational metrics

  • Workplace Integrated Safety and Health (WISH) Assessment – An assessment tool from Harvard’s Center for Work, Health & Well-Being that measures workplace policies and practices that focus on working conditions and worker health

  • The B Impact Assessment – An assessment tool from B Lab to help companies measure and compare their practices in relation to their workers, the community, and the environment

Assessment Tools (Employee Level)

  • Quality of Worklife Questionnaire – A questionnaire from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that covers work hours, workload, worker autonomy, layoffs, job security, and job satisfaction 

  • What Works Wellbeing Question Bank – A bank of validated questions from What Works Wellbeing that can be used by employers to measure employee well-being; includes advice on choosing questions, adapting the questions or response scales, and understanding survey results

  • Employee Wellbeing Snapshot Survey – A short, 13-question survey from What Works Wellbeing that is intended to capture a snapshot of employee wellbeing at regular intervals

  • Thrive at Work Assessment Tool – A tool from Thrive at Work that assesses your organization’s ability to mitigate illness, prevent harm, and promote thriving; the tool includes heat maps for visual representation and an action planning template

  • HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard – A survey from Health Enhancement Research Organization that allows employers to receive emailed feedback on their health and well-being practices and assigns an individual score relative to a national database

  • StressAssess – A survey designed in Canada to assess sources of psychosocial stress in the workplace for workers and managers

  • The Workplace PERMA Profiler A tool from Margaret L. Kern at the University of Pennsylvania that measures positive and negative emotions in the workplace

Implementation

  • Explore project planning tools. See linked resources below on project planning tools for step-by-step plans that walk you through the process. Consider partnering with a third party or academic center to assist you in assessing problems or planning an intervention.

  • Assign roles and responsibilities. Decide who will lead the process of implementation. Provide specific details about who is responsible for each step, what they need to do, and how they will do it.

  • Establish a communication plan. Build a consistent narrative to help everyone see the importance of health and well-being in the workplace. Communicate changes to employees using formal and informal channels. Inform employees about timing and how changes will affect workers’ jobs. Have the steering committee provide regular updates on progress.

  • Determine a timeline. Aim to create a schedule for implementation that sets specific milestones. Be mindful in scheduling to avoid holidays or busy seasons. Think about starting small and then scaling up or making changes in phases. 

  • Monitor progress. Periodically check that agreed-upon actions are happening. Provide support for the employees responsible for overseeing changes, such as frontline managers. If possible, provide dedicated time for frontline managers to focus on the change initiative by reducing their workload. 

Helpful Resources

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Helpful Resources

 

Project Planning Tools

  • Action plan with your assessment tool results from Thrive at Work – This part of the assessment tool guides you through the process of identifying your focus, developing a well-being strategy, and planning specific actions based on your assessment results\

  • The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle (PDCA) – A project planning resource from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) that consists of a four-step model for instituting change

  • Quality Improvement Essentials Toolkit – Provides tools to help you launch a quality improvement project and manage performance improvement; includes a cause and effect diagram, failure modes and effects analysis, run charts and control charts, and a Plan-Do-Study-Act worksheet

Implementation Guides

Evaluation and Next Steps 

  • Allow time to see results. Timing will depend on the solution you developed. Because implementing change requires time and resources, you may feel stretched and concerned that it wasn’t worth the effort. Be patient; seeing the value of your investments will take time. 

  • Conduct a follow-up of your baseline. Repeat the same assessment tool(s) you used during the planning and problem identification stage. Examine patterns and compare any collected data to baseline assessment. Review policies and procedures in light of findings. Use collected data to help determine any next steps.

  • Form a diverse evaluation team. Your designated evaluation team should not be comprised of the same individuals who were involved in planning and implementation. Be sure to include employees across the organizational hierarchy in this step, too.

  • Sustain changes. Continued support from employees, leadership, and stakeholders is crucial to ensure that your change sticks. Publicize small wins and what you have learned early and often.

  • Invite feedback on the workplace change process. Gather employee feedback on the entire process of your health and well-being initiative. Ask about successes, challenges, clarity of designated roles, and time frame. You could collect feedback by integrating the discussion into a meeting, holding a town hall, facilitating a focus group, providing a suggestion box, or conducting a quick pulse survey.

  • Demonstrate long-term commitment. The process of identifying potential workplace stressors and implementing changes is continuous. Regularly revisit the topic of worker health and well-being to see if additional changes are needed.

Helpful Resources

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Helpful Resources

 

Evaluation