Key principles of Health and Wellbeing Conversations

At their heart, Health and Wellbeing Conversations are a way for two people to connect together to identify individual health and wellbeing needs. They are for all NHS people and can be facilitated by line managers or another trusted person at work.  As a facilitator, this means:

  • Sharing time with a colleague and listening to how they are
  • Normalising that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions in response to their experiences
  • Supporting them to identify what is within their control to nurture their own wellbeing
  • Helping them to build a wellbeing plan to manage the impact of COVID-19 and other high impact working situations
  • Signposting where they can go for further help, including accessing health and wellbeing support, and helping enlist that help promptly where needed

Some key principles of Health and Wellbeing Conversations to be mindful of as you start to plan how to support others:

1. These conversations are a starting point, where facilitators connect with participants, listen, and are prepared to support people with ‘where to from here’

These conversations are about offering space for listening and helping with further support, if needed. Not everyone will be coming to their Health and Wellbeing Conversation from a place of difficulty or feeling like they’re struggling. Some people might be feeling good and want to make a plan with you for staying that way. This includes making a plan for managing wellbeing moving forward. We’ve included templates for these to help prompt your thinking

2. You don’t need specialist training, just kindness and compassion

Approach these conversations with the intention of listening to the other person and enabling them to think more clearly about their needs. We would not recommend a prescribed approach: being yourself is important. We recognise this way of working will be more comfortable for some than others to start with and we encourage you to work with the material and others as you learn through the experience

3. Taking care these are kept separate from formal appraisal or corporate style interactions

What is shared in these conversations is not designed to be aligned to performance and having one at the same time as an appraisal might mean people don’t feel safe to share and get the support they need. Line managers could use an appraisal setting to check if an individual would like time to have a Health and Wellbeing Conversation or if they’ve had one already. An appraisal interaction might also highlight the need for some extra support and a Health and Wellbeing Conversation would be ideal but the two should be kept very separate

4. Safety is key and it’s okay to opt out! It’s so important people feel safe and respected: both facilitators and participants

  • Participants have a choice whether to participate and who with – it might not be with their line manager
  • Line managers and facilitators are encouraged to know when they need to defer to someone else to hold this conversation for others. If you don’t feel you are in the right space to support another person in this way, you can opt out. If you’re a line manager, this would mean making time for those in your team to have their Health and Wellbeing Conversation with someone else