Designing an impactful intervention programme to improve staff wellbeing at work

Client: Kings Health Partners

The challenge

We spend half of our waking hours at work, and work-related stress, anxiety and depression are the most frequent causes of days off work. Given this startling statistic, King’s Health Partners set out to create optimal conditions for happy working lives through their ‘happier@work’ programme. This aimed to improve staff wellbeing within the context of the challenging realities of NHS working life.

What was needed

King’s Health Partners needed help to identify which interventions were most needed by their staff, and how best to design a comprehensive programme that would have significant impact on wellbeing at work.

What we did

In partnership with the Mental Health Promotion team at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, we undertook a research-based design programme across six hospital sites. We spent a day shadowing eight members of staff in their day-to-day work, to understand how their jobs affected their lifestyle and wellbeing. This helped us to identify daily routines, calm and stressful moments, motivations, interests, relationships, communication patterns, habits and so on.

The Mental Health Promotion team then undertook a group process with seven teams, called a mental well-being impact assessment. Uscreates supported this using the ‘Wheel of Wellbeing’ to help teams explore the factors that affect employee wellbeing. The wheel is divided into six dimensions, each linked with a positive suggestion for action that anybody can take, and provides a powerful design tool for exploring wellbeing.

The findings from this research were visualized and shared at breakout areas and drop-in sessions across the six hospitals. We asked people – ‘do these findings ring true for you?’; ‘what do you think would help improve staff wellbeing?’. These responses informed the design of a tailored programme of wellbeing training, seminars and events for staff to attend in their workplace.

Example interventions:

  • Eight master classes for managing staff wellbeing
  • Six stress awareness workshops
  • Seven mindfulness training programmes
  • Two ‘Leading Light’ seminars
  • Working with an artist to create artistic spaces for wellbeing


The results

Formal evaluation was undertaken by London Southbank University (LSBU). Project participants completed an initial baseline survey, 183 (52%), and a follow-up survey, 71 (20%). Although the sample size was too small to be conclusive, this showed:

  • 7% increase in wellbeing
  • 19% reduction in minor psychiatric disorder
  • Some reduction in time taken off in last 2 weeks, but no significant difference
  • 1% reduction in average time limited performance (burnout)
  • 15% increase in those who would recommend their trust as a place to work