Reflections on the year: health and wellbeing

Post author image. Louise Aston
Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community (BITC) reflects on workplace wellbeing and how we can create ‘better work’.

During the pandemic, we have seen rising levels of mental ill-health1, a trend which is likely to be long lasting.

Encouragingly, we have also seen progress in the way mental health and wellbeing have been prioritised across society. More businesses than ever are committed to protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of their employees.

The last 19 months have also demonstrated that change can be achieved and achieved quickly. Changes to job design, such as the move to remote and hybrid working, create opportunities for a more flexible working model. We believe that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform traditional working practices, reimagine ways of working and create jobs that enable people to thrive.

Business in the Community’s (BITC) Mental Health at Work 2020 research found 41% of employees had experienced negative mental health symptoms caused or worsened by work in the past year2. This figure would be entirely unacceptable in relation to physical injury caused by work. Rather than dealing with the symptoms, now is the time to address the systemic causes of poor mental health at work by focusing on prevention and creating work that is good for wellbeing.

BITC’s What if your job was good for you? report provides evidence-based actions that ensure job design and organisational culture drive positive mental health for all employees. The report was delivered in partnership with the BITC Wellbeing Leadership Team and Affinity Health at Work, and supported by CIPD. Although wellbeing has come to the fore during the pandemic, it needs to continue to be firmly established as an ongoing strategic boardroom issue and integrated across every business operation.

Although work can be part of the issue, it is also part of the solution. Central to the What if your job was good for you? report is BITC’s Better Work Framework. To enable better work, organisations must take a collaborative, individual-focused approach and emphasise relationships and open dialogue. It also means that values of empathy and compassion, equity and inclusion, trust and appreciation and authenticity should underpin these efforts.

Businesses that prioritise ‘better work’ that provides the flexibility for employees to co-create their own ‘good’ jobs, will gain a competitive advantage3.

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  1. Mind (2021) Coronavirus: the consequences for mental health, July.
  2. Business in the Community (2020) Mental Health at Work 2020: key findings.
  3. Microsoft WorkLab (2021) The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? 22 March.