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02 Aug 2022
by Gareth Mullen

Designing a wellbeing strategy focused on inclusivity at Thames Water

Gareth Mullen, head of safety, health & wellbeing (policy and systems) at Thames Water, describes how its targeted approach to wellbeing has delivered significant success

Designing a wellbeing strategy focused on inclusivity and employee need at Thames Water.jpg


Thames Water has 7,000 employees, a mix of office-based, home-based and field-based personnel. For the past seven years we have mainly carried out incremental wellbeing initiatives, such as introducing a Slimming World package for people who had been assessed by our Occupational Health team and wanted to lose weight. Collectively, colleagues have lost more than 12 tonnes of weight during the programme. 

Alongside other health-related packages, we have introduced personal medical assessments, which included prostate cancer screenings: 13 people tested positive. The early diagnosis meant they were able to get treatment and are still in the business today. The cost of the programme was high, but in our eyes those results justify the spend. 

In terms of justifying our funding, we look at the returns on investment and getting the right benefits and practices in place. We might start with something small and involve our senior managers and executives, who would champion it being rolled out across the business. 

That is how we were able to offer private medical insurance for all employees. Previously, this was only for senior management, but we made the argument that, if we MOT our fleet of 1,500 vehicles, why aren’t we doing the same for our people? So, for a very reasonable cost per head, those who wanted a personal medical assessment were included in our coverage. 

Validating the benefits 

Our executives will expect to see justification over time of why the money is being spent, but if benefits have been well implemented, we can provide that analysis with reports from the provider that show how many people have been referred to their GP and were found to have a serious condition. That data really makes it clear why we offer the benefits we do and helps to secure future funding. 

We’ve also worked with our network of mental health first aiders, who record anonymised data about demographics such as age and gender and why employees made contact. From that information, we could see that groups of young males aged 23-30 in a particular area of our business had many financial worries. So, instead of rolling out one-size-fits all benefits globally across the business, we were able to do something selectively and arrange suitable financial wellbeing and support. 

In that way, we manage costs, but use the resources that we have in the best way with the targeted information we receive from our contacts.

This case study is taken from the REBA Employee Wellbeing Research 2022.


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