Enhancing workforce resilience, wellbeing & productivity
Authors: Stephen Bevan
11 May 2011
Here at The Work Foundation we know all too well that many organisations are increasingly worried by the worsening health and wellbeing of their employees (and the bottom line implications). Yet, for the most part, employers are still feeling pretty powerless in their attempts to do something meaningful about this growing concern. In some senses, many organisations are in the ‘problem admiration’ phase but are struggling to find a ‘killer app’ which will help them act decisively to reduce work-related absence and improve productivity.
Last night, we hosted the launch of a very timely and challenging new book by Professors Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper. In Well-being: Productivity and Happiness at Work, these two eminent experts set out both a coherent and authoritative explanation of why workforce health is such an issue and a set of very accessible ideas and case studies which will guide employers towards some solutions.
Both Ivan and Cary – despite their affability and excellent communication skills – are academics with a serious international pedigree and one of the features of the book I found especially pleasing was their willingness to challenge readers with a bit of science. This is particularly important if we are to challenge the perception (still too common among some CEOs) that the well-being debate is dominated by worthy platitudes which have no hard edge. As Cary pointed out in his presentation last night, the scientific case that wellbeing is a real phenomenon and that improving it delivers business benefits, has been made beyond any doubt. And as Ivan added, the medical data linking psychological well-being, physical health and job performance is both widespread and compelling.
So why, asked one member of our audience in the lively Q&A session which concluded the launch, do so many CEOs remain unconvinced by the ‘business case’ for improving workforce health and wellbeing? Part of the answer, replied Ivan, was that many are more strongly influenced by what their competitors are doing, or immediate risks to the business, than the weight of academic evidence or even a well-argued business rationale.
With further Q&A contributions from Clare Chapman, Workforce Director at the Department of Health and Dame Carol Black, National Director for Health and Work at the DWP, we covered a wide range of topics which are covered by both the authors and by case study contributors to the book such as Dr Paul Litchfield of BT.
Our knowledge about workforce health in 2011 is substantially more extensive and nuanced than it was even a decade ago, and yet there is still so much more practical progress to be made in UK organisations. This important new book makes a very important contribution to both our knowledge-base and our fund of practical insights into how we can make British workplaces irreversibly healthier.
All blog posts for this author