Community Housing Advocacy Project

Last reviewed on 24/01/2013 12:05

Community Housing Advocacy Project engaged with Healthy Working Lives to improve staff wellbeing. It was able to reduce sickness absence, increase productivity and discover new skills in the workforce.

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Community Housing Advocacy Project (CHAP) is a charitable organisation with 15 staff. Debbie Alexander, Services Co-ordinator at CHAP, finds that Healthy Working Lives fits well with the size of the business.

'We were unsure whether we would be able to get involved because we’re a small organisation, but we realised that Healthy Working Lives was there to support us.'

How it worked in practice

We were unsure whether we would be able to get involved because we’re a small organisation, but we realised that Healthy Working Lives was there to support us.
Debbie Alexander
- Services Co-ordinator

​With support from the local team, CHAP made several changes:

  • updated health and safety policies
  • regular health awareness campaigns were run
  • more staff training took place around the issue of health and safety
  • new sickness absence procedures were introduced.


CHAP consulted with staff at every step of the process. Close working ensures that staff feel included and allows them to choose the Healthy Working Lives information campaigns for themselves. Direct interaction with the service helps to increase enthusiasm.

‘Staff could see what we were planning and understood that they were all going to be involved from the start,’ says Debbie. ‘I think that’s why there’s been such a good reaction.’   

Increased productivity

CHAP has found that investment in the wellbeing of staff has other benefits for the business. ‘It helps with motivation and productivity as well,’ says Debbie.

‘Because we ran campaigns that were relevant to staff, campaigns that they had asked for, they felt that we were taking an interest and that we really valued them… It is probable that's what has helped to increase productivity. Staff feel more motivated and because we were investing in them they are giving more back.’

Reduced sickness absence

Staff were consulted before new absence procedures were issued, and Debbie believes that this has made a big difference.

‘There was a reduction in absence amongst staff in the past year and it is thought that the new sickness absence procedure that was introduced may have contributed to this’

‘We developed a new absence procedure for the organisation in consultation with our staff. We made them aware of what we were doing in order to make sure they had an opportunity to input their views and opinions.’

CHAP measures staff absence carefully, and has recorded a 15 per cent reduction since it’s been involved with Healthy Working Lives. This change has made a big difference to the business, helping to reduce the disruption that sickness absence can cause in a small organisation.

Discovery of new skills

Healthy Working Lives has given staff at CHAP a chance to develop new skills. By organising campaigns people get a chance to use their creative skills and showcase their ability to research health topics.

This has encouraged staff to step outside their established job roles, and take on new responsibilities.

‘We have noticed that staff are willing to undertake more tasks (that are maybe not directly linked to their job role) to increase their own skills and knowledge, as part of personal and professional development.’

‘A lot of people get involved in organising campaigns and that’s helped to develop leadership and creative skills that they can also use at work.’

Lessons Learned

Involving staff in all decisions from the start makes everyone feel included, and allows the Healthy Working Lives service to be tailored to the wants and needs of the staff, even in small companies.

Debbie Alexander
Services Co-ordinator
Community housing Advocacy Project
12 Heatherhouse Road
KA12 8HQ

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