Society of Occupational Medicine Introduces a Voluntary Code of Wellbeing Practice

The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has introduced a self-assessment voluntary code of practice for its members who work as workplace wellbeing practitioners. As a leading professional body focused on occupational health and wellbeing of people at work in the UK and around the world, SOM is committed to upholding the highest professional and ethical standards in its field.

The code is derived from the World Health Organisation’s five keys to healthy workplaces, which it considers are essential to developing healthy workplaces.  This has been translated into professional standards and outcomes by Evan Davidge, a freelance total reward and wellbeing expert.

Nick Pahl, CEO of SOM said:

“SOM welcomes this code to ensure greater consistency of wellbeing professional standards. The SOM Board at their meeting in September 2019 agreed that support for training and development for workplace wellbeing practitioners to acquire relevant professional skills, knowledge and attributes to succeed in their role was essential. It noted that workplace wellbeing professional practitioners could join the SOM and SOM members and potential members could be informed about the code, developed by Evan Davidge and colleagues.”

Evan Davidge explains that workplace wellbeing has emerged as one of the hottest topics in business / people management in recent years, especially with an increasing awareness of its impact on productivity and sustainability. This is exemplified by the UN who has identified that achieving good health and wellbeing behaviours at work and life in general will contribute to the future environmental sustainability of our planet.

Davidge contends that the key challenge is to instill a sustainable culture of wellbeing and behavioural change, but this is where many well-intended initiatives fall at the first hurdle. This is hardly surprising as workplace wellbeing practice is a relatively new discipline that tends to fall between different stools. Indeed, a think-tank – The What Works Centre for Wellbeing – believes that many employers find themselves open to ‘Unregulated markets which are putting a price tag to mitigating wellbeing risks by overselling and misunderstanding its true value in terms of causality, quality and context.” As Davidge points out, this is compounded by a lack of vision and blind obedience to the market.

Davidge adds that:

“The voluntary code is intended to raise professional standards in this field. Many professionals find themselves charged with delivering workplace wellbeing, which is usually a bolt-on responsibility to their day job, with little or no experience and resources. Whilst the Government and industry are starting to pull together to improve standards, there is a long way to go. The World Health Organisation’s five keys to healthy workplaces does provide an appropriate framework, but how it is applied is a different challenge altogether. Hence, the voluntary code is intended to help deliver consistent outcomes in workplace wellbeing practice. It could be the forerunner to developing workplace wellbeing as a separate discipline and I am working with the professional community to adopt the code”.

The Society’s voluntary code of practice can be found at


Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners’ Survey

Attention all Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners

We are excited to launch the first Workplace Wellbeing Practitioners’ Survey, a joint research initiative from The Wellbeing Leader and

Here is a real opportunity to take part in a unique new research survey for workplace wellbeing practitioners, which can help to shape and define the future of this emerging function and profession.

This survey will be of interest to people who have responsibility for influencing or contributing to workplace wellbeing at an operational, tactical or strategic level. It is particularly suitable if you are seeking to leverage workplace wellbeing in your organisation, as well as having a say in developing your career in the field.

Who should take part in the survey?

The survey is open to any in-house practitioner who has responsibility or some form of influence with wellbeing in a UK-based organisation with at least 50 employees.

Take part to enter a £200 John Lewis prize draw.  All participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a £200 John Lewis electronic gift card.

Please click here to start the survey.

Why is there a need for this research?

The World Economic Forum cites organisational health as one of the Top 10 trends that will impact the global economy in coming years. Indeed leading academics forecast that organisational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.

Against that background, many organisations are putting in place their workplace wellbeing propositions, with HR and/or Occupational Health invariably finding themselves thrust into leading and developing the strategy. Often this is a bolt-on to their day jobs, where they face a steep learning curve with little or no expertise.

While wellbeing advisers/providers plug this gap to some extent, the market is bewildering and fragmented to an unlearned wellbeing practitioner. This often leads to situations where “solutions” drive strategy, and they don’t really get into the deeper cultural and behavioural aspects of wellbeing that underpin a holistic, proactive and transformational approach.

What does this research cover?

This comprehensive survey digs deep into workplace wellbeing in terms of the key organisational drivers and how wellbeing is structured and resourced. It is also asks practitioners to assess their competencies, development needs and career aspirations.

How long will the survey take to complete?

You should allow about 10-15 minutes to complete the survey.

Will I receive a copy of the survey findings?

All participants will receive a complimentary copy of the survey report later this year. But please note, the survey is confidential and all responses will be analysed anonymously.

Who are the researchers?

The research is a joint initiative between and The Wellbeing Leader.

How do I start?

Please click here to start the survey. Please note the survey will be open until Friday 26th April.


Thank you for your time.


Evan Davidge

The Wellbeing Leader

Wellbeing Leadership is Alive & Kicking

A Wellbeing Leadership Paradigm

Glancing through Amazon recently, I noticed that there were 57,136 books with the word “leadership” in the title, but only 337 books with “wellbeing leadership”. That is not to say that the latter is by definition a separate and distinct discipline. Wellbeing in one form or another has always been integral to leadership practices. Moreover, as the practice of leadership has evolved, so has the understanding of it. We now apply modern concepts of neuroscience, evolutionary biology and behavioural economics to the study of leadership.

This is never more relevant then in today’s climate where leaders are being driven towards a still largely untapped gold mine – organisational wellbeing. Indeed, extensive global research by Gallup has shown a more rigorous focus on organisational and employee wellbeing that gains emotional, financial and competitive advantage.

This is evident from the recent inaugural Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) awards scheme where the majority of entries showed really impressive business results with their wellbeing initiatives. What proved to be a clear differentiator between the very good and exceptional entries is where leadership is firmly in the driving seat. The most striking examples are where leaders have shown that they are no less immune to the vicissitudes of life. Invariably, they display humility and self-awareness to champion a wellbeing cause, following personal and often life-changing experiences.

Distributive Wellbeing Leadership – Alive and Kicking

There are many different types of leadership, from CEOs, to senior management and then line managers, to an individual’s ability to lead on a particular project. It even applies to volunteer wellbeing “ambassadors”. All these types of leaders have different responsibilities when it comes to wellbeing. Therefore, leadership needs to be distributive in order to develop a culture that fosters wellbeing.

Ultimately, Boards need to buy in to the activity if it is to be co-ordinated and supported enough to achieve the best outcomes. They have the power to make far reaching changes, and to allocate the resources to make them happen. As mentioned above, the individual behaviour of senior management will also have a significant impact on the culture of the organisation. All leaders should demonstrate the behaviours they are advocating.  You can’t expect employees to take part in initiatives and change behaviours if the people above them aren’t doing so.

Arguably the most significant leader relationship is between employee and line manager. The line manager role includes creating the optimum environment for the performance of their team members. But line managers are generally regarded as the “squeezed middle”, where they are most vulnerable to personal wellbeing issues.  So they require support, resources and training to cultivate a positive work environment. This was one of the most impressive features of the REBA wellbeing entries.

Joining the Dots

In sum, leadership and employee wellbeing should be interwoven, in order to feed through to individual and organisational outcomes. For that reason it has to be a key strand of leadership development programmes to inculcate ‘hard-wired’ behaviours. This will not be for the faint-hearted, but it is attainable for any organisation with the vision and mind-set.