Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Tue 17 Jul

At June’s Innovation Day, we welcomed Kevin Daniels, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of East Anglia. He shared with us how promoting wellbeing can affect business and what can be done to achieve increased wellbeing.

Some theoreticians argue that it is an employer’s legal duty to ‘not cause employees psychiatric damage by the volume or the character of the work they are required to perform’ (Justice Coleman, 1994). Beyond this, others emphasise that it is part of a company’s corporate social responsibility to undertake wellbeing programmes. The thing is, so far, we don’t really know what actually creates wellness in the workplace. There are baseline factors, such as reasonable food, access to exercise and so on, and more and more companies seem to be focusing on getting staff engaged with these things. But are we focusing on the right things?

There is no one ‘magic bullet’ to increase wellbeing. Results show that organisations that perform well in wellbeing have a range of aspects to their wellbeing programmes. Prof. Kevin Daniels highlights three important focus areas: quality of the job, management capabilities and social relationships. These all create the foundations/DNA that lead into a suite of health and wellbeing policies and programmes that have been proven to help staff wellbeing.

So, what should we do?

Start with the beginning and define the quality job. The quality job could be seen as the start of the cycle of wellbeing improvement, or as an outcome of other aspects of the process. However, it is agreed that to create a quality job staff must be involved in decisions and listened to, communication must be open, and strong HR policies are key.

We must train our managers to work for wellbeing. The direct line manager employee relationship is the most influential relationship with regards to influence on workplace wellbeing. It is the role of the manager to communicate and motivate the direct reports and if this is not done effectively, negative outcomes on wellbeing are very likely to occur. Managers require appropriate training to deal with issues and should have the authority to act immediately when required to deal with wellbeing issues.

Help your employee social relationships grow organically. We spend a large amount of time with colleagues on a daily basis, so it is key that healthy and strong social relationships are built. A lot of people don’t like being forced together in ‘organised fun’, so a less forceful way of ensuring social relationships should be created. This could be something as simple as changing the office layout or encouraging cross team working in projects.

There is a need for consistency and coherence with organisational values and culture. We must recognise that every organisation is different and while it is helpful to consider good practice in other organisations, it may not always reflect what would be right for our organisation, and the sort of organisation that we wish to be.

These are just some key highlights taken from June’s Innovation Day. Each month, clients of the Innovation Programmes receive a full ACT report, capturing the guest expert’s research, the implications and next steps for leaders to apply back in their team and organisation.

Next month, clients will explore why it’s more important than ever to develop our learning capabilities.  For more information, please view the Innovation Day page.

Sources: Daniels, K. (2018) ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace’, KnowledgeBrief Innovation Day Presentation, 13 June.

There is no one ‘magic bullet’ to increase wellbeing.

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