Improving Wellbeing and Working Cultures

Improving Wellbeing and Working Cultures (IWWC), sets out the Scottish Government's vision to enhance working cultures across our health, social care and social work workforce, through programmes of work at a national level that focus on the pillars of: wellbeing, leadership and equality.

3. Three Pillars: Wellbeing, Leadership and Equality

Good leadership can improve workplace culture, which has a direct impact on the wellbeing of staff, and on staff retention and experience.[6] But good leadership, and strong workplace cultures also ultimately lead to better care and outcomes for people who use our services . Wellbeing, leadership and equality are all inextricably linked and interconnected, one does not exist without the other. Therefore to achieve positive working environments and cultures, we need good leadership and improvements in equality work which will enhance overall wellbeing. Teams should work together to make links and join up activity when making improvements in these three areas.

By creating a more diverse, agile and dynamic workforce at all levels, health, social care and social work organisations will be better equipped to respond to future challenges.[7]

We need to create supportive collaborative working environments for leadership at all levels, enabling staff to have the skills and capabilities they need to lead through recovery and any challenges to support the delivery of whole-system transformational change.

3.1 Why Wellbeing Matters

The greatest asset to our health, social care and social work sectors are those working within it. Working in these sectors is challenging, often involving repeated exposure to distress. Though staff are dedicated and motivated to deliver this care, and have many valuable coping strategies, the work can carry an emotional impact. Mental health difficulties, including anxiety, stress, and depression, have long been the leading cause of sickness absence across health, social care and social work. Since, and as a consequence of, the pandemic, the toll of working in health and social care has been, and continues to remain, significant. This strengthens the need for a positive and proactive approach to supporting wellbeing.

Valuing those who care for others and prioritising staff wellbeing, however, has intrinsic merit and is a moral objective that should be prioritised across our organisational culture. It is only right that those who provide such a high level of care for our communities, receive the same support while at work.

To be effective, those of us working in health, social care and social work need to be as healthy as possible and feel physically and psychologically safe at work. Research shows that staff wellbeing significantly improves productivity, care quality, patient safety, patient satisfaction, financial performance and the sustainability of our health services[8].

Positive workplaces offer opportunities for everyone to reach their potential through connection and contribution. By prioritising the wellbeing needs of our staff, we can strengthen our workforce, leading to a direct positive impact on the quality-of-care individuals, teams and organisations can deliver.

3.2 Why Leadership Matters

Good leaders role model the values of kindness, empathy, and compassion, and enable staff to thrive. They are collaborative, work across organisational and systems boundaries, embrace and encourage diversity of thought, experience and background.

Good leadership is an essential component of a supportive, diverse and compassionate working culture, which has a direct impact on the wellbeing of our staff and leads to better care for the those who use our services.

Leaders can be found in all roles, grades and levels within an organisation. By providing opportunities for leadership development at all levels we can ensure that all staff are provided with the skills and capabilities to carry out their jobs effectively.

3.3 Why Equality Matters

Equality is at the heart of our workplace cultures. Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion or belief, Sex, and Sexual orientation - these are the nine protected characteristics that we all share. It is a fundamental human right that we should be free from discrimination, harassment and victimisation because of any of these.

We will only be able to deliver the highest level of care to patients, clients and those who use our services when we understand the issues faced by different groups. In order to achieve this, our workforces and our leaders should be, as far as possible, representative of the communities they serve. To achieve this, we need to ensure our staff work in supportive environments where they feel that they can be themself, where discrimination is challenged, and where they are treated fairly with dignity and respect.

We know structural barriers and discrimination still exist and this can affect an individual’s chances of employment and progression. Our ambition, and our obligation under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is to eliminate this discrimination, improve the equity of opportunity for those groups who are systemically disadvantaged and support improved relationships between people from all backgrounds.



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