Lothian’s occupational health service provides valuable employee data

Lothian is the UK’s largest municipal bus firm, carrying around 120 million customers per year. It is one of Edinburgh’s biggest employers, with more than 2,500 staff, around 1,800 of whom are drivers.

In 2018, Lothian started working with Health Shield’s occupational health service. From the outset, the organisation saw the importance of having access to as much data as possible, says Tracey Bork, Lothian’s head of people.

“By looking at key information such as the length of time it takes from referral to appointment and from appointment to report, we can see how well the service is performing,” she explains. “It’s important to us that our people have access to an occupational health specialist as quickly as possible, and this approach helps to outline our expectations.”

In addition to providing reactive support to employees who have experienced health issues, Bork is introducing a more proactive approach. Having discussed a number of different ideas with Health Shield, she is keen to start with an initiative that will support and enhance mental health and wellbeing. “Giving our people tools such as breathing exercises and mindfulness training will help them manage the everyday stresses faced at home and at work,” she explains.

As this type of initiative will be new for Lothian, Bork knows it is important to monitor its effectiveness. The evaluation will include metrics such as attendance numbers and direct feedback. “We’ll ask [attendees] whether it was what they expected, if it was helpful and whether they’d use the techniques,” she says.

Where an initiative is valued by employees, it is more likely to have a knock-on effect on other areas of the business. “It’s a longer-term trend, but supporting employee health and wellbeing should also lead to improvements in the attendance management statistics,” Bork adds. “Ultimately though, if it’s something that benefits our people, we’ll absolutely consider it.”

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