Wellbeing assurance and oversight at board-level

If you have responsibility for wellbeing on your board, or it’s an area you’d like to step into, here are some of the things you could try.
wellbeing on the board

Work-life is a key element of good wellbeing for most people, so fostering a culture of wellbeing in your organisation is important. Caring for your people will help support them as they care for others.

To do this, you may already have a Wellbeing Lead in the form of a trustee or non-executive director (NED) role, or you might be thinking about appointing or creating one.

One of the duties of trustees is to give strategic direction. This means they are in a position to place staff health and wellbeing at the heart of their organisation to create an environment where staff and volunteers can thrive.

What this looks like in practice:

  • The wellbeing of the people working within the organisation is recognised as a priority within all operational and strategic activities.
  • Staff and volunteer wellbeing is measured, reported and acted on.
  • Wellbeing is an overarching and unifying principle for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) activity.
  • The wellbeing needs of individuals and communities in the organisation’s local area are considered.

If you have responsibility for wellbeing on your board, or it’s an area you’d like to step into, here are some of the things you could try:

  • Set some personal goals. What do you want to get out of your role this year? And longer term? Can you discuss this with other board members? Can you bring insight from staff/volunteer wellbeing surveys and planned activities to shape your approach?
  • Identify the support you need to succeed in your role, and communicate this. What skills do you bring to your role? What learning and development might you like to undertake? How will you access this? What partnerships/alliances can you form to help you in your role? Who are the individuals/teams who can support you?
  • Assess what the organisation is doing and why. What are you already doing? Is it working well? Do you know why or how it makes a difference? How do you know? What evidence is being used? What gaps do you have? How do you learn?

For those supporting Wellbeing Leads in organisations, we recommend that you:

  • Work alongside your Wellbeing Lead to embed the role within your organisation, including identifying opportunities for networking with other key stakeholders.
  • Seek to establish a culture of collective wellbeing leadership, being mindful of your Wellbeing Lead’s capacity.
  • Collaboratively develop tangible support and resources, including ways to gather and share data.
  • Effectively communicate what is being done to people who can, and want to use the insights.

To help you, we’ve developed a theory of change for wellbeing champions as part of understanding how wellbeing assurance is delivered in practice.

The model identifies:

  • Potential barriers and facilitators to the development of a Wellbeing trustee/NED role;
  • Mechanisms of change that are involved in the journey of the Wellbeing Lead role from when they are first appointed;
  • Individual-level and organisational-level contextual factors that may impact the Wellbeing Lead role and their ability to carry out their role effectively.

What Works Wellbeing

What Works Wellbeing are the UK’s independent body for wellbeing evidence, policy and practice. They work on accelerating research and democratising access to wellbeing evidence. A collaborating centre working out how to improve lives.

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