The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Jobcentre Plus workforce in Merseyside, in common with the rest of the country, deal with high-pressure situations and work in very sedentary roles.
As a result of cross-boundary work with GreaterSport – including co-ordination of an integrated workplace-based physical activity offer for Shop Direct, who operate at multiple sites in Greater Manchester and Merseyside – MSP were introduced to the North West lead for Health and Wellbeing at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
Following the introduction, we connected locally DWP’s, External Relations Manager; providing the opportunity to discuss how we could potentially work with the Jobcentre Plus workforce, in Merseyside.
Initial discussions focused on understanding the culture of the organisation, the challenges and pressures faced by the workforce in supporting their customers, identifying what measure DWP take to support their employees. It was established that, locally, the organisation hadn’t yet used physical activity to bring their staff together, or explored the opportunities to use it as the basis improve morale, enhance team working or reduce absenteeism.
Based on the discussions, it was agreed MSP would run an initial pilot with the Jobcentre Plus team at their Huyton office, to identify how to best use physical activity to help in supporting the workforce; including trialling the recruitment, development and deployment of Volunteer Workplace Activity Champions.
An interactive training programme was developed and delivered to two groups of volunteers in the office, providing the opportunity for the participants to learn about: physical activity evidence and guidelines, benefits to employees and employers, barriers to participation, behaviour change, practical ideas to use in the office and its surrounding area, plus signposting to local support.
The package of support was underpinned by the 16 volunteers making a ‘pledge’ outlining what they planned to do to take forward activity within the office; with a follow-up on the pledges scheduled in 3 months later.
Pre and post evaluation took place with the volunteers to understand the extent to which the training developed their confidence, knowledge and commitment to supporting their colleagues to be physically active.
Of those volunteering to become Activity Champions:
As benchmarks, earlier pilot work with employers in Liverpool indicated that 36% of those volunteering to become Champions were either inactive or fairly active and across the Liverpool City Region, 41% of the population – aged 19-65 – is failing to meet the Chief Medical Officers guidelines.
The initial evaluation demonstrated the extent to which volunteers felt a positive change in the following key areas:
Using the Net Promoter Score® (NPS) methodology, 94% of the volunteers taking part in the Huyton office pilot were rated as ‘Promoters’ of the support provided by MSP, with 6% rated as ‘Passives’. In addition to following up with the ‘pledges’ and the reviewing the impact of the Activity Champions, the initial training has opened up a conversation around rolling out support to the workforce in the other 14 Jobcentre Plus offices, in Merseyside.