Improving wellbeing at work

Key insights from What Works Wellbeing research.
2 people looking at a laptop

Improving wellbeing at work

Key insights from What Works Wellbeing research.

What Works Wellbeing recently released a new report looking at 10 years of UK labour market data in terms of the subjective wellbeing of different occupations over time. The key insights from this included:

  • A positive relationship between gross annual salary and mean life satisfaction, confirming previous analysis.
  • Higher life satisfaction and lower anxiety levels when occupation is permanent (regardless of occupation type).
  • Higher life satisfaction is reported for those that work at home or adjacent to home (such as a garage or garden office).

They have collected this data to provide employers with insights that inform job design that supports employee wellbeing, retention and productivity.

From their research done back in 2018, the 4 key areas for employers to work on are:

Team work

Good social relationships at work are important. The study saw that carrying out shared group activities such as workshops, internal mentoring programmes, action planning groups based around specific issues or social events can have a positive impact on wellbeing and performance. Inclusivity and sustained efforts were important in successful cases. It is noted that more research needs to be done on the cost-effectiveness and impact of specific initiatives to improve social relationships in the workplace.

Job quality

This includes qualities such as job security, fostering social connections, the ability to use and develop skills, having clear responsibilities and opportunities to be heard and have a say.

Learning at work

People who keep learning report a high level of overall wellbeing, including an increased ability to effectively manage stress, heightened feelings of self-esteem, greater sense of hope, and a stronger sense of purpose. Furthermore, pursuing these goals often involves social interaction, which can contribute to building and strengthening social relationships.

Good work, wellbeing and changes in performance outcomes

Their report on this issue highlights the importance of good people management practices in improving organisational performance and employee wellbeing. Some of these practices include providing opportunities for workers to have input in their work environment, having clear roles and responsibilities, encouraging effective communication and collaboration, supporting learning and development opportunities, providing fair and effective performance management processes, and encouraging managers to support their people.

The key findings in an analysis of the NHS Trusts in England which utilised these good people management practices were:

  • Over twice as likely to have staff with the highest levels of job satisfaction compared to NHS  Trusts that made the least use of these practices.
  • Over three times more likely to have staff with the highest levels of engagement.
  • Over four times more likely to have the most satisfied patients.
  • Over three times more likely to have the lowest levels of sickness absence.

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