EFPA interviews: Richard Wynne from ENWHP

EFPA is one of the 14 partners of the H-WORK project. In the EFPA News Magazine, an interview section was created in order to keep the public informed about the progress of the H-WORK project and provide insights into the role of the different partners of the consortium. This time, Jolien Vandeneynde interviewed Richard Wynne, representative and contributor for ENWHP within the project.

  1. What is the role of your organisation in the H-WORK project?

Our role is mainly confined to dissemination of project progress and results through our network of members and newsletter recipients. We are also involved in making our expertise in relation to workplace health promotion and workplace health and safety available to the project. We have considerable policy experience in the area at national and EU level and we are also making this knowledge available to the project.

  1. What is your role within the project?

My role is to manage the ENWHP contribution.  Specifically:

  • Contributing expertise on policy in EU
  • Contributing experience of workplace health promotion

I also take part in the various management and WP meetings of the project. In general, I try to bring to bear a knowledge of the realities of workplaces to the more theoretical work of the project.

  1. Can you present us your team?

Our team is flexible, drawn from our Board Members and from the secretariat of the ENWHP.  Contributors to the project to date have included:

  • Richard Wynne, Work Research Centre, Ireland
  • Maria Dolores Sole, INSHT, Spain
  • Giuseppe Masanotti, Department of Public Health, University of Perugia, Italy

Between us, we have many decades of experience in the area of workplace health promotion and workplace health and safety.  Our backgrounds include Occupational Medicine and Organisational Psychology.

  1. What is the impact of Covid on the work of your organization for the H-WORK project?

Very little – we are a virtual organisation and apart from a commitment to attend project meetings we have seen little impact on our working methods. At Work Research Centre, where I am a Director, the impact has been largely confined to work in Ireland, where due to travel restrictions, it has proved impossible to make site visits etc. However, virtual meetings have largely replaced these and the impact on working methods has not been too severe.

  1. What has your team accomplished in the project so far?

To date we have contributed expertise in relation to European policy on Workplace Mental Health Promotion and methods of implementing workplace health promotion. We have also been involved in disseminating project information through our network.

  1. What are you currently working on and what are the next steps?

At the moment, we are involved in updating our communication about the project to our network on our website, social media and newsletter. We will also be involved in reviewing deliverables from the project, the next one being due over the course of the next month or two.

  1. What are your expectations regarding the outcomes of the project?

It is difficult to say at present as the project is still in development mode. I would hope that a set of proven and practical interventions to promote mental health at work will result, but there are many variables that can affect such an outcome over which the project has limited control. Already the Covid pandemic has resulted in delaying the implementation of field trials and it will continue to affect their implementation as the project progresses (e.g. homeworking populations, the need to have online support etc.).  Beyond this major issue, there are the usual workplace factors to be considered, e.g. levels of support by workplace actors, levels of need in the workplace, identification of workplace champions, overcoming unforeseen obstacles and so on.

  1. What are currently the main obstacles for your work in general and in the project?

I think the main obstacle is the difficulty of establishing working relationships within the project team. ENWHP is not central to the development or the implementation and evaluation work of the project and establishing working relationships with appropriate partners has proved difficult in the absence of face-to-face meetings. Hopefully, travel restrictions will be lifted in the near future and this barrier can be overcome.

  1. What is the biggest strength of your organisation in advancing the project or helping other partners?

I think our strengths lie in practical experience of implementing workplace health initiatives, workplace mental health policy at national and EU level and in disseminating project information.

  1. How do you think your organisation and EFPA can collaborate in the H-Work Project for WP2 and WP7?

I think it may be possible to develop a joint strategy to these WPs as we occupy somewhat similar roles within the project. I would be interested to hear what EFPA thinks on this issue.