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 https://www.som.org.uk/sites/som.org.uk/files/Voluntary_code_of_practice_workplace_wellbeing_practitioners_Oct2019.pdf