This project explores whether certain combinations of workplace wellbeing practices are more effective than others in varied settings. Leading organisations on managing employee health and wellbeing adopt a range of different practices (e.g. resilience training, workplace health promotion, management development), often combined via a coherent wellbeing strategy. While we have strong evidence that certain individual practices reliably improve worker wellbeing and performance, this project offers the opportunity to examine factors that enable or hinder implementation of workplace wellbeing practices in combination.
A central concept in our research is ‘high quality work’. High quality work involves workers having a say in how they work, clear roles and performance expectations, manageable work demands, supportive co-workers and job security. We will investigate whether the features of high quality work need to be present for other wellbeing practices to have effects, or whether some practices can compensate for otherwise low quality work.
Our research has five major elements:
- We use data from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Survey (BHW) to examine which combinations of health and wellbeing practices are most effective for which types of organisations. BHW is an annual survey with data from over 600 organisations and around 100,000 employees on wellbeing practices and outcomes, job quality, employee engagement and organisational performance.
- We link survey responses to specific performance indicators in organisations, in order to gain a more detailed and nuanced picture of workers’ experience of workplace wellbeing practices.
- We use the survey data to look at which practices and combinations of practices are most cost effective for returning gains in worker wellbeing.
- We conduct longitudinal research, based on multiple interviews in a range of large and small organisations, over a 12 month period, to examine how organisations go about implementing health and wellbeing practices, and the different contextual factors that influence that process.
- We engage in on-going processes of integrating knowledge from the other four elements of the work in order to build an evidence-based model of how organisations implement different combinations of practices.
Findings and Outputs
Data analysis and collection is currently underway. The findings will range from insight into the cost-effectiveness of specific types of practice and combinations of practices, through to a broader understanding of how those practices are enabled or hindered in different contexts. Certain findings are being shared via the What Works Centre for Wellbeing and the PrOPEL Hub during the project, as well as participatory masterclasses and workshops.
The model produced in the integrative element of the project (part 5) will be translated into a non-technical version for users in organisations, to be able to identify key considerations in implementing workplace wellbeing initiatives of their own.
Professor Kevin Daniels leads the team at Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia. Team members include: Professor Sara Connolly, Professor Olga Tregaskis, Dr Roberta Fida, Dr Rachel Nayani, Dr David Watson, Dr Jana Patey, Dr Marijana Baric, Dr Helen Fitzhugh and colleagues from RAND Europe who hold the BHW survey: Dr Christian van Stolk and Mr Michael Whitmore.
To find out more please contact Dr Helen Fitzhugh at firstname.lastname@example.org
At the recent CIPD Applied Research Conference, some of the project team shared insights from the research to date.