April was Stress Awareness Month and many of your reps organised events or promoted information across WG and the NAfW. In Welsh Government there is a managing stress and supporting personal well-being policy, which sets out how the organisation manages stress. The policy clearly sets out the commitment of the organisation and its legal obligations under health and safety legislation. Details of the measures the Welsh Government takes to meet these commitments are accessible to all staff on the intranet. Examples range from cancer support information to diversity networks; from flexible working arrangements to exercise and food advice.
One in four people in Wales will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives. Stress is one of the main causes of mental health problems, in particular anxiety and depression. Evidence indicates that UK workplaces are dealing with an increasing prevalence of stress.
As the organisation responsible for leading on the delivery of prosperity for all, the Welsh Government has a unique opportunity to take the lead and shift its approach to dealing with stress from one of treatment to prevention. To do so would also be entirely consistent with prosperity for all.
The recent implementation of a well-being hour in Welsh Government is a small step towards this more preventative agenda. A progressive and pragmatic initiative – the Welsh government hopes to be able to work with staff to address issues such as stress and mental health.
The deal was struck by PCS, in partnership with the Prospect and FDA, as part of pay negotiations.
It will be built into normal working hours and is in line with other policies being implemented across Wales by the government.
These include the Well-Being of Future Generations Act, a law seeking to improve the quality of life of people in Wales now and in the future, and the Welsh prosperity for all strategy.
PCS Welsh Government Group President, Katie Antippas said: “The well-being hour is an excellent opportunity for the Welsh Government to put into practice its commitment to the well-being of our members and staff generally.”
Welsh government permanent secretary Shan Morgan said: “Personal resilience and well-being is something I take very seriously – for myself and for the organisation as a whole. In common with many other organisations we have an aging workforce and sickness absence levels that have been difficult to shift in recent years”.
Early indications are that it has been extremely well received by members and staff. People are taking the opportunity to use the hour in varied and interesting ways.
It is too early to assess the impact of the well-being hour in helping the Welsh Government deal with the complex issue that is stress, but your PCS Reps would love your feedback: How are you using your hour and how is it helping you? Please get in touch and tell us.