Food market

Multiple long-term conditions

The Employee Health Innovation Fund: A Design-Led Approach to Health at Work

Good health at work leads to more productive workplaces, fewer lost hours and fewer people leaving the job market.

In the multiple long-term conditions programme, we understand that for working age adults, their health is influenced by social determinants, that is – where they live, where they work, and how much money they have.

Unfortunately, how these determinants affect our health is not felt equally – people from minoritised communities living on lower incomes are more likely to live with long-term health conditions.

Evidence shows that employers can make a real difference by creating healthier working conditions for their employees and a open culture that makes the management of existing health conditions easier. Good health at work leads to more productive workplaces, fewer lost hours and fewer people leaving the job market.

Healthy work environments are not only essential for employees and their families, but for the UK economy and society as a whole. Health at work is an issue of health equity. 

In partnership with the Design Council, we launched the Employee Health Innovation Fund (2019), four years ago, in a pre-pandemic world. Our work began with the understanding that improving access to meaningful, inclusive and healthy working environments is an effective way of reducing the risks of developing or worsening long-term health conditions, which includes illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Our challenge to the Design Council was to create an approach that would help employers and employees better understand health in the workplace and then co-design the solutions to those issues. 

The ‘design-led’ element of this programme is critical. We believe that when service design engages and includes the people the issue most affects, the outcome has greater potential to be effective, equitable, and have a greater impact on the structures that create and sustain inequalities .

As a response, the Employee Health Innovation Fund (EHIF) programme supported seven employer project teams to discover new ways of supporting the health and wellbeing of their staff. The EHIF insights report is an overview of the journeys of for the employer project teams, outlining the approach taken and lessons learnt, and aims to answer the question how a design-led approach can enable health innovation.

The added benefits of the project have been new and exciting relationships with employers and their employees, new partnerships between employers, employees and health services, and it has developed new and innovative partnerships at neighbourhood level.

This work has helped to gain an understanding of the inequalities experienced by lower income, frontline workers and sought new and innovative solutions. The process has taken the time to understand the layered challenges of small and large employers.

We are proud to see the outcomes of this innovative programme brought together in this as a record, but also as a part of a broader movement towards better health in Lambeth, Southwark and beyond.

Download the Employee Health Innovation Fund Insights report