DWP: Developing wellbeing - confident leadership

DWP’s (Department for Work and Pensions) innovative wellbeing strategy, Working Well Together, has been an integral part of our culture change, from one driven by Key Performance Indicators and performance-targets to one that's customer-focused, centred around high performing teams and healthy, inclusive environments.  

DWP's ground-breaking Wellness Survey, developed in collaboration with the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, is helping it meet its Thriving at Work commitments. In the first year DWP had an overwhelming 30,000 colleague responses, demonstrating the importance people in DWP place on their wellbeing and providing a rich data-set that is enabling DWP to base its actions and decisions on evidence, as well as report publicly on the impact of our initiatives and programmes.
The DWP Wellness Survey highlighted the confidence and capability of leaders and managers to support employee wellbeing.  Based on this feedback it sought commitment from its Executive Team to roll-out Wellbeing Confident Leadership training to all of its Senior Civil Servants to equip them with the knowledge and skills to foster an open, supportive and inclusive culture.  

A Senior leader in the Child Maintenance Group said: “In Child Maintenance Group we recognise and value the breadth of wellbeing-confident leadership that takes leadership conversations beyond mental and physical health and we are integrating this into our leadership development offer.  Wellbeing Confident Leaders training resonates with DWP’s Wellbeing drivers that have informed our wellbeing priorities and people metrics. To build manager capability we’ve developed our fundamental learning journey, with modules in mental health awareness, disability confidence, PERMA principles and stress management.”  

This is equipping managers with the skills and confidence to support the wellbeing of their people, build inclusive environments, and develop a high level of self-awareness to better serve their own wellbeing.

A North West Area Director commented: “I feel it’s really important that my leaders hear the views of their people and ensure that customers and staff can influence change. It continually develops engaging leaders to create a culture of inclusiveness with leaders that have the skills and ability to draw out the employee voice whilst being inquisitive and giving space and scope for their teams to be innovative and creative. It is about having the permission to take risk and try new ideas. To celebrate when things go well and when things don’t work out, to celebrate that we actually tried. Developing leaders that give my people the courage and resilience to try again, building an organisation that has a strong alliance and affiliation with what we do but most important of all - why we do it.”

To help support the mental wellbeing of its Operational employees, DWP has developed a ‘care for the work coach’ module that sits firmly in the Mental Health Training, helping colleagues to recognise the signs of poor mental wellbeing and stress in themselves and others and sign-posting colleagues to DWP’s vast specialist support offer.
To further embed culture and behaviour change, DWP has built essential wellbeing principles into its leadership objectives for all DWP colleagues and leaders and fundamental people policies including performance, attendance and stress.  
Embedding culture change and continuously building the confidence and capability of its leaders and managers are fundamental to the success of the wellbeing and inclusion journey in DWP. It will continue to measure our progress in these areas through employee insight and regular surveys.