This is the seventh post in a series highlighting the best resources from each of the ten categories in our Wellbeing Database. The series has so far explored wellbeing in relation to the environment, education, food, economy, community and family. This post provides a summary of the best resources relating to wellbeing at work.
In recent years, the attention paid to the wellbeing of employees has seen a dramatic rise. As well as improving the health and life satisfaction of employees, there is also mounting evidence to show that placing more focus on employee wellbeing can actually increase the overall productivity of organisations.
Work provides an irreplaceably important role in the wellbeing of the individual and the community. Aside from providing the economic means necessary to live in society, work can also provide a sense of identity and meaning, which in turn feeds into a resilient community and society.
For those organisations choosing to focus on the wellbeing of their employees, there are many rewards both socially and economically. Organisations are made up of individuals, therefore if more and more individuals feel improvements in their wellbeing, the organisation as a whole will function better, benefiting from each individual’s heightened motivation and commitment to their role. It can be challenging to measure these changes; just like in chaos theory, where the flutter of a butterfly's wings can contribute to unforeseen consequences on the other side of the world, we cannot always identify the specific effect of each individual case on the collective. However, it is safe to say that each case has the potential to reach far beyond the individual or the organisation of which they are a part.
In our Database you will find many short videos on wellbeing at work, offering a variety of different perspectives. For example, Dan Ariely shares a talk based on the question: What motivates us to work? According to him it isn’t just money, but it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.
For more on the context of wellbeing at work, we also recommend you check out the work of one of the top world experts on wellbeing, Nic Marks. Nic has worked extensively on wellbeing, and founded Happiness Works within the last few years, which was focused on designing and building tools to facilitate happier workplaces. Nic spoke at an event hosted by Schumacher College and NOW in Totnes last year, giving a brilliant talk on the wide and varied work on wellbeing.
Meanwhile, Rüdiger Fox offers valuable insights into wellbeing at work, by taking an innovative approach to this topic. You may have heard of the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Index in Bhutan, which is a tool used to measure the wellbeing of Bhutan’s citizens. Rüdiger imagines what a similar index to GNH would be like for companies, to show how well they are taking care of the wellbeing of the employees.
Another perspective is shared in a talk by Eva Katarina. She invites us to engage with a new approach to work, by focusing on strengths, which is not only good for employees but evidence also shows adds to the productivity of organisations.
Of course, there is more to life than productivity at work, as important as that is. Working is just one aspect of our lives, and most of us also try to use our time for family, relationships and other interests too. But how one can balance all these elements? Dan Thurmon gives us some keys in this talk titled “Off balance, on purpose: The future of engagement and work-life balance.”
Reports and Research
Our Wellbeing Database contains a range of interesting reports which can help you to build up a 'big picture' understanding of wellbeing at work, as well as research pieces that will help you to go more deeply into specific issues. Here are some recommendations:
The following reports offer a big picture view of wellbeing at work:
- Wellbeing at Work. A Review of the Literature by nef
- Wellbeing and Engagement: The Evidence by Engage for Success
- Wellbeing and Global Success by World Economic Forum
For those with a specific interest in social justice and equality, you may want to check out:
- 21 hours: Why a Shorter Working Week Can Help Us All to Flourish in the 21st Century by nef
- Creating Better Jobs and a Fairer Economy with Worker Cooperatives by Democracy at Work Institute
For those interested in how physical space impacts the health and the wellbeing of staff, the following could be of interest:
- Health, Wellbeing & Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building by World Green Building Council
- Workplace Wellbeing: The Contribution of the Physical Workplace to Worker Wellbeing by Talent Glue, COEL and Cambridge Plant Interiors
Finally, two reports that share examples of applying best practices in different contexts are:
- Wellbeing at Work: New Innovations and Good Practices by Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
- Best Practice in Promoting Employee Health and Wellbeing in the City of London by Cavill Associates in collaboration with the University of Salford for the City of London Corporation
Guides and toolkits
The following list is a selection of guides and toolkits related to wellbeing at work, of which there are a wide range available. Exploring these resources provides the opportunity to look at different practical approaches, therefore giving a wider variety of tools which can be used for implementing wellbeing at work programmes.
- Health and Wellbeing at Work: A Resource Guide by Public Health Agency
- 4 Steps to a Happy Startup. The Path from Passion to Profits and The Happy Startup Toolkit: Stop Dreaming, Start Doing by The Happy Startup School.
- Working Together: Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing at Work by Australian Government, Australian Public Service Commission and Comcare.
- Working Well: Guidance on Promoting Health and Wellbeing at Work by IOSH
- The Happy Manifesto: Make Your Organisation a Great Place to Work. Now! by Henry Stewart (Happy)
- Managing Wellbeing Toolkit: Everything You Need to Start Improving Employee Wellbeing Today by Managing Wellbeing
- Workplace Wellbeing Charter: Making Wellbeing at Work your Business and Self Assessment Standards: Workplace Wellbeing Charter by Liverpool Primary Care Trust
- Emotional Resilience Toolkit and Skills, Health and Wellbeing Toolkit by Business in the Community
- Work and Well-being: A Trade Union Resource by TUC
- Health, Work and Well-being Toolkit by unionlearn Southern and Eastern TUC
Reflecting on the resources presented in this post, it seems apparent that wellbeing at work influences and is influenced by individuals (and their sense of purpose, progress, meaning, and strengths), society (including values, ethics, economics) and the environment (including a focus on safety, aesthetics and green spaces in the work place). Therefore, an integrated and holistic perspective is needed to design good strategies for wellbeing at work which can be of benefit to all.