Professor Colin Lindsay of Strathclyde Business School, Director of ESRC PrOPEL Hub, welcomes the award of additional funding that will support university researchers across all four nations of the UK to engage in knowledge exchange with business leaders, people managers and workplace stakeholders to promote evidence-based practice to benefit employee wellbeing, productivity and innovation.

The ESRC PrOPEL Hub launched in 2020 as a partnership of seven universities (now involving colleagues at nine universities across all four nations of the UK) and The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) with a remit to provide the evidence base, collaborative networks and co-production of interventions to influence workplace stakeholders and policymakers on how best to transform wellbeing and productivity through management practice and employee engagement.

Our challenge was, and remains, clear. We need to do more to use the best evidence to inform people management and workplace practice as a route to enhanced innovation, productivity and employee wellbeing. Many employers know that a key part of the solution to improving employee experience and organisational productivity lies in what happens day-to-day in the workplace. But they often struggle to access the sort of robust evidence in an accessible format that could help them to consider ‘what might work’ in supporting employee wellbeing, innovation and performance.

The first phase of the ESRC PrOPEL Hub (2020-23) engaged with more than 3,000 business and policy stakeholders, people managers and employees through 70+ events and activities online and in-person. More than 180 items of web content have been engaged with by 18,000 online users. We have been able to share cutting-edge research on:

  • how job crafting can support employee-led innovation
  • the sort of ‘fair work’ strategies that promote employee engagement
  • the costs and benefits of workplace wellbeing and conflict resolution strategies
  • the productivity benefits of effective hybrid working
  • and how managers use performance data in to inform their decision-making.

Perhaps most crucially, our ESRC PrOPEL Hub partners across the UK are committed to engaging with and listening to employers and people managers, and to transforming their research into actionable intelligence that can deliver impact and inform practical change.

We are grateful and excited to have been awarded additional funding from colleagues at the ESRC to further develop our work in 2023 and 2024. Among the specific new initiatives that we have planned are:

  • the development and evaluation of targeted interventions informing practice on employee engagement and wellbeing, including a major event at November’s ESRC Festival of Social Science, led by Strathclyde Business School
  • the launch of a new ‘manifesto’ report on policy priorities to support workplace innovation and productivity, led by Cardiff, Glasgow and Strathclyde universities
  • a series of bootcamps that will support early career researchers to enhance the impact and practical value of their work, led by the University of East Anglia
  • peer support learning networks co-produced with ethnic minority business leaders, led by Aston University
  • an innovative randomised control trial exploring the impact of business intelligence on management decision-making, led by the University of Nottingham
  • the development of a Skilled Managers Community sharing insights on ‘what works’ in developing managers’ conflict resolution skills, led by Westminster University.

These are just a handful of the many impactful interventions that ESRC PrOPEL Hub partners will take forward in the coming months.

If you are a policy stakeholder, business leader, people manager or HR practitioner interested in our work – or if you are just an employee or citizen who thinks that what happens in the workplace matters for all of us – you can register for our e-newsletter on our website – – and watch this space for exciting upcoming events online and in person.