Health and wellbeing in the UK rail industry

There are approximately 120,000 people working for the UK rail industry. Recent figures have indicated that sickness costs the industry £316 million a year. Addressing the health of its workforce is therefore a matter of some urgency and could result in an annual saving of £32 million. But it is not just about costs. The evidence suggests that better health and wellbeing also produce a wide range of less tangible benefits, such as improvements to individuals capabilities and morale and to employee relations more broadly.

Using its roadmapping methodology – a subject of IfM research for more than a decade – IfM ECS (now IfM Engage) worked with over 100 people representing all parts of the industry as well as health experts from outside it. They took part in a series of workshops to develop a health and wellbeing vision and its supporting roadmap. As part of the roadmapping process, the strategy and priorities needed to achieve the industry’s vision until 2019 were agreed and looser objectives were sketched out for the period from 2019 out to 2024.


One of the most important aspects of the project was the creation of a graphical output which captured and conveyed the key elements of the roadmap in a way that all member of the workforce could understand and respond to. Distilling complex data into easily communicable outputs is an active area of IfM research and the graphic (below) exemplifies this approach.


Railway health and wellbeing roadmap


IfM also developed a set of more detailed outputs to show the plans relating to the five key strategic themes which emerged from the roadmapping process:

  • Industry leadership
  • Clinical knowledge
  • Reporting and monitoring
  • Employee engagement
  • Behavioural change

These outputs distil large amounts of complex and interconnected data into a clear set of desired outcomes, action plans and success measures and indicators.



The benefit for the UK rail industry is a coordinated and highly proactive approach to improving health and wellbeing. Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) is facilitating the implementation of the roadmap on behalf of the industry and, under the guidance of the policy group, will produce resources to support individual company activities. These include a dedicated area of the RSSB site on health and wellbeing, six policy booklets, a health and wellbeing assessment resource, and five research reports.


Plans for five strategic themes



“We recognised that improving health and wellbeing across the rail industry had become a priority but that it would require a co-ordinated approach to succeed. The roadmapping process provided by IfM ECS enabled us to bring together large numbers of stakeholders to develop a shared vision and gain commitment to a clear action plan. A Health and Wellbeing policy group has now been set up to oversee the implementation process and to maintain communication with the key stakeholders. A particularly successful aspect of IfM ECS’s approach was guiding the development of a set of graphics to communicate the roadmap to everyone working in the industry and encourage ongoing dialogue and engagement.”


Darryl Hopper Workforce Health and Wellbeing Project Manager, RSSB



More information

To find out more about how IfM ECS’s roadmapping techniques can help your organisation, contact: Dominic Oughton E:

For further information please contact:

Dominic Oughton

T: +44 (0) 7778 873512


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