Wellbeing at Work

A review of the literature

Wellbeing plays a central role in creating flourishing societies. Focusing on wellbeing at work can benefit societies by helping working individuals to feel happy, competent and satisfied in their roles. The evidence shows that people who achieve good standards of wellbeing at work are likely to be more creative, more loyal, more productive and provide better customer satisfaction than those with poor levels of wellbeing at work.

For decades, organisations have tried to foster these qualities through employee engagement strategies but engaging employees is just one part of the story. Improving wellbeing at work requires a more rounded approach that focuses on helping employees to:

  • Strengthen their personal resources.
  • Flourish and take pride in their roles within the organisational system.
  • Function to the best of their abilities, both as individuals and in collaboration with their colleagues.
  • Have a positive overall experience of work.

NEF Consulting presents its latest findings in the field of wellbeing at work in Wellbeing at Work: a review of the literature to support the Happiness at Work survey. The report draws upon the research and expertise of the Centre for Wellbeing at the New Economics Foundation (NEF), an internationally recognised leader in the field of wellbeing. It sets out the evidence for the drivers of wellbeing at work alongside the potential benefits of promoting wellbeing at work for both society and the organisation. The research was supported by Nuffield Health.

Wellbeing at work: The evidence

The Wellbeing at Work report summarises the strongest evidence on the factors that influence wellbeing at work, along with possible implications for employers. It presents examples of how organisations leading the way in terms of fostering wellbeing at work are addressing these factors. It outlines how certain features of individuals’ working lives have varying degrees of influence over the various aspects of wellbeing – from increasing a sense of purpose, to promoting positive emotions, morale, motivation, overall job satisfaction and even life satisfaction.

Based on statistical evidence, the report concludes that:

Getting the right work-life balance is an effective way of avoiding stress at work.
It is possible to maximise overall organisational wellbeing through a re-evaluation of how salaries are distributed among employees.

  • Organisations can adopt certain approaches towards job security that help their staff achieve higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • Working with employees to ensure they have a sense that their job is achievable can lead to greater job satisfaction, as well as higher levels of morale.
  • Management behaviour seems to be highly important, with some management styles more successful than others at strengthening wellbeing at work.
  • Creating a safe working environment and a sense of the social value of the work of the organisation, may increase employees’ feelings of job satisfaction.
  • Good levels of job-fit and skill-use, and opportunities to develop new skills, can create high levels of employee satisfaction.
  • Helping employees to take greater control over their work can lead to better performance and greater job satisfaction.
  • Taking steps to improve relationships at work – with a particular focus on relationships between staff and managers – and encouraging positive feelings can improve both job and life satisfaction.

The evidence behind each of these conclusions is detailed in the report, along with possible implications for organisations seeking to maximise the wellbeing of their staff.

How well is your organisation doing?

Find out how well your organisation is doing with the Happiness at Work survey, an interactive tool to measure the strengths and weaknesses of teams and organisations with regard to their wellbeing at work. It places people, and the elements known to support happy and rewarding work lives, at its centre. The survey was developed by a team of wellbeing experts, and draws upon the research and expertise of the Centre for Wellbeing at NEF.

Download the report here: Wellbeing at Work: a review of the literature

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by @nefconsulting