Introducing wellness action plans (WAPs) in the workplace

Sue Hazleton, Hertfordshire Growth Hub

What is a WAP?

Wellness Actions Plans (WAPs) are an easy, practical way of helping individuals to support their own mental health at work and for managers to support the mental health of their team members.

Everyone can complete a Wellness Action Plan, you don't need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that individuals have a  personalised, practical tool in place to ensure that they are supported when they aren't feeling great. The plan comprises of a series of questions to help identify what keeps the individual well at work, what causes them to become unwell and the support they would like to receive from their manager to boost their wellbeing or support them through a recovery. 

WAPs should be written and owned by the individual, expressing their own personal choices, their personal experience and their needs. The manager’s role is to discuss the plan with the individual, if the staff member wants to share it, and provide support and guidance as required.

Ways to use WAPs in the Workplace

New starters : Although completing a WAP should be entirely voluntary, new starters could be introduced to WAPs, by their managers, as part of their induction process. Staff can decide whether they wish to complete a WAP when they start, would prefer to complete one at a later date, or not at all. 

Existing employees : WAPs can be completed, reviewed and updated at any time. If working remotely, a WAP can help identify how best a manager can provide support and overcome the barriers which this style of working in particular can present.

Return to work process : WAPs are also helpful during the return to work process, when someone has been off work due to a mental health problem, as they provide a structure for conversations around what support will help and what reasonable adjustments might be useful to consider. They can be used in conjunction with a return to work interview to provide more information about the type of support needed.

Ongoing process : Once a WAP has been drawn up, it can be discussed during one-to-one meetings between the individual and their manager to make any necessary changes. The WAP is most effective when treated as a live, flexible document, so a regular ‘feedback loop’ between manager and staff member to assess what is and is not working is an important part of the process.

Data protection

If a member of staff shares their WAP with their manager it should be held confidentially between them. Managers should not disclose any information provided by employees in their WAPs to any third party except when it is part of the return to work process and the employee has given explicit consent for such disclosure.

The manager should process any personal data collected in accordance with the organisation’s data protection policy. Inappropriate disclosure of personal health data constitutes a data breach.

Further Guidance and WAP Templates

Mind have three WAP guides available:

The Mind guidance documents and the Workplace Wellness Action Plan can be downloaded (and completed electronically). 

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