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Wellbeing in workplace studied by RAND Europe

By Mike Scialom

Workplace wellbeing is crucial to society functioning well
Workplace wellbeing is crucial to society functioning well

Mental health is the biggest reason for workplace absence in the UK. A staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems, costing employers around £2.4billion a year.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg – people who don't go to work. What about those who go to work but actually aren't really in a fit state to contribute anything near 100 per cent? This is called presenteeism, and is one of the topics that RAND Europe will consider in a new study.

RAND Europe – it's Cambridge site is at the Westbrook Centre – will work with the University of East Anglia (UEA) to examine how health and wellbeing practices can improve employee productivity. The study will look to identify which combinations of workplace health and wellbeing practices reliably improve worker health, wellbeing, engagement and performance – and deliver the best return on investment.

It is one of five projects to receive a share of £3.8million announced recently by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to investigate the impact of different management, engagement and wellbeing initiatives on workplace productivity, with a particular focus on small businesses.

The aim of the UEA and RAND Europe work is to generate new knowledge of the factors underpinning the implementation of health and wellbeing practices in organisations that foster higher levels of productivity, staff engagement, health and wellbeing.

Chris van Stolk, vice president, RAND Europe (7071793)
Chris van Stolk, vice president, RAND Europe (7071793)

Principal investigator Kevin Daniels, professor of organizational behaviour at UEA’s Norwich Business School, said: “This project will build on the existing collaboration between RAND Europe and UEA on research on employee health and wellbeing, and benefit from our ongoing work with the What Works for Wellbeing Centre through the ESRC funded Work and Learning programme.

“We aim to produce useful and useable guidance for businesses on cost effective practices for sustainable improvements in both employee wellbeing and productivity.”

Christian van Stolk, vice president of RAND Europe said: “RAND Europe has an ever-growing portfolio of research in the field of health and wellbeing in the workplace that is starting to have a real impact on public policy and how employers design programmes and manage their employees.

“We are proud of our ongoing collaboration with the talented team at UEA and excited about this ESRC funding to advance existing knowledge in this area.”

Dr Annie Gibney, portfolio lead at ESRC for Management & Business Studies and Transforming Working Lives said: “This is a very strong set of projects that address the key management practices and employee engagement challenges facing business owners, managers and workers.

“Not only are they examples of excellent academic research that work closely with firms, policy-makers and key stakeholders – but they also have a real opportunity to lead to meaningful change in business and policy practices.”

The projects start this month and are scheduled to run between 24 and 36 months. They have the potential to produce significant economic and societal impact across the UK.


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