Nestlé UK – H1: Chronic Conditions Guide

Q: What issue was facing your organisation?
At Nestlé we firmly believe our people are our best assets and our ambition is to have fit and healthy people at work. Nestlé UK operate an in house Occupational Health function that has in-depth knowledge of all our business processes and has built great relationships with our employees, line managers, HR business partners and trade union colleagues.Nestlé UK’s robust Sickness Absence process includes return to work support and, where this is no longer possible though permanent ill health, offers a discretionary benefit scheme for employees if they are unable to return to work.Line managers are essential to the success of this process to ensure regular communication with employees who are ill. However, line managers regularly juggle many tasks and supporting an employee with a chronic health problem is not their area of expertise nor is it routine day to day occurrence. Training and support is essential for line managers to ensure they are equipped to support employee who are taken ill.
Q: What action did your organisation take?
In recent years there has been a focus on supporting line managers and encouraging early referral to occupational health to support employees who are absent through illness or for those employees who are struggling at work.Ongoing line manager coaching is an integral part of this process.A new coaching approach was introduced by the Occupational Health team; line managers are now encouraged to contact employees as soon as they are aware they are unwell, to remain in contact and maintain a two way dialogue by offering support and information.A referral to Occupational Health will then be made if a simple return to work is not possible. During the absence, the line manager is encouraged to maintain contact and once the employee is ready to return to work, a rehabilitation plan is agreed prior to returning to work by the employee, Occupational Health, the line manager and HR where applicable. Goals and milestones over an agreed time period.

The robust rehabilitation programme where clinically indicated, includes phased hours and duties, modified duties, workplace buddies, equipment and job modifications with regular review and progress checks. Additional ongoing support continues once the employee is back at work and is regularly reviewed. Once the employee returns to their substantive role, they are discharged by Occupational Health with full assurance of support in the event of a set back or simply to offer further support if needed.

Q: What has been the impact of implementing health interventions?
This approach has resulted in an improved referral process with regular, ongoing communication and support for our people. There are regular meetings between Occupational Health and HR at all sites to review absence and encourage referral where required.A case conference approach is taken for all long term absence cases to ensure our employees receive the information and support they need to help them safely return to work.
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