Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE (Manchester Business School) opened the conference by looking at how much absenteeism and presenteeism costs the UK economy (with presenteeism costing about double what absenteeism costs).

During the recession, everything worsened (incident of illness increased and engagement decreased, and hours of work increased). 10% of managers work over 60 hours a week, and 75% of people work outside of their contracted hours. 63% of people are saying that their excessive working impacts their relationship with their children. Email can be a huge problem (with lots of the audience admitting to accessing work email whilst on holiday). Some organisations are experimenting with blocking email access when you go home from the office and whilst you’re on holiday. If you consistently work long hours, you will be less productive and you will damage your relationships with your family. Despite the overwhelming evidence that it is damaging, lots of organisations still have a long working-hours culture.

There can be lots of stress factors intrinsic to the job: too much work, too little work, time pressures and deadlines, poor physical working conditions, mistakes, too many decisions (With a book recommendation for Joseph Heller: Something happened).

There are lots of stress factors intrinsic to roles in the organisation: role ambiguity, role conflict, too little responsibility, responsibility for people & things, lack of managerial support, organisational boundaries.

Relationships are really important in the workplace, with: boss, colleagues, and subordinates. The relationship with boss is crucial to wellbeing. Difficulties with delegating and personal conflicts can be damaging.

Ireland and the UK have the highest level of abusive management style of any countries in the UK, and there is much evidence that bullying managing style is damaging to workers’ health.

People can feel problems with divided loyalties, by work conflicting with family demands, and by the intrusion of problems outside work.

So what can we do about all of this? We need an integrated (and complete) programme of interventions:

– Primary  deal with the stressors (e.g. management development, workflow planning, induction)

– Secondary  help people to cope (e.g. resilience training)

– Tertiary – picking people back up (e.g. Employee Assistance Programs)

There is a business case for wellness programmes, and we know that the interventions work. Mental illness cost to employees was £28.3M per annum in 2009). Prevention and early identification of problems should save 30%, i.e. £8M per annum.

Why does psychological wellbeing matter to business? People who have higher wellbeing are more productive.In one study, the benefit of improving employe wellbeing (by a conservative about) was estimated at £1,201 per employee.

Wellbeing is important. We have enough research, we know what we need to do. We just need to get on and do the right things.

(This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership in York 17-18 June 2016 – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)

 

Here’s a Storify, summarising the session through the tweets of the other attendees: