I make no apology for once again using this column to stress the importance of making sure we look after the well-being of our social care and early years workforce.
Well-being of the workforce is incredibly important – for those providing and receiving care. We know that positive workplaces, where staff are well and feel valued, lead to positive care.
Those who work in the care sector are incredibly resilient and have dealt with the pressures of the pandemic and its aftermath, while facing unprecedented demands for care and support.
A recent study showed that the quality of working life and well-being had deteriorated in the care sector and this is not surprising, especially with the new challenges of the cost of living and increased numbers of vacancies.
We’ve also heard about some really positive changes being made and creative ways to support staff.
In response to this, we’ve recently launched something new to help employers, managers and their staff improve workforce well-being.
Called a Well-being Framework, it centres on four commitments.
The first is to create safe working environments that support health and well-being. This is to support the physical, mental and financial well-being of employees.
It means making sure anyone who shares information about a health condition is treated fairly and with compassion, and has equal career opportunities. It also means understanding and being aware of the good quality mental health services staff can be signposted to.
The second commitment is to treat everyone fairly, with dignity and respect.
This is aimed at creating positive cultures with fair treatment, dignity and respect for the people they employ and those they support.
This should be regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
This commitment is particularly poignant as we’re in Black History Month, which is an opportunity for us all to show our ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusivity.
Thirdly, we’re asking for a commitment to establish workplace cultures where everyone is involved and informed. People feel valued and respected when they have a voice and are included in change. This could be a change to how the organisation works or the way care and support is provided.
The fourth commitment is to prioritise a culture of continuous learning and development, because feeling fulfilled in work can improve well-being.
This commitment means supporting the workforce to learn and grow, so they feel confident and competent in the work they do.
It calls for positive learning environments where staff are nurtured, feel a sense of purpose and belonging. And it means supporting staff with training and opportunities to continue their professional development.
To help employers and staff put these commitments into action, we’ve created some resources:
- a well-being plan for organisations: this is a template to help organisations develop a well-being plan by looking at each commitment and noting where they are now and where they’d like to get to
- a well-being conversation guide for managers: this has a set of questions to help managers identify where workers need support
- a well-being checklist for workers: this encourages workers to look for ways to improve their well-being. It can help people who mainly work on their own or in a team or larger organisation.