Time to stop making the best of a bad job

Post author image. Louise Aston
Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community (BITC), explains why there are no quick fixes when it comes to mental health at work.
Louise Aston wearing a multicoloured top, smiles to the camera.

New research confirms that there are no quick fixes when it comes to mental health at work. Affinity’s powerful report, ‘Learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic: approaches to support employee health and wellbeing’, builds on the recommendations in our report, ‘What if your job was good for you?’, published in June, and provides further evidence that job design is the key to achieving better wellbeing.

Affinity found that “some organisations were considering job design and examining work roles as well as the skills required to do the job effectively”. And that, critically, “There was a recognition that many wellbeing interventions would not address issues of poor job design”.

“The pandemic led organisations to offer more support but it is clear we need to take a systemic approach to mental health at work to create real impact.”

Dr Rachel Lewis, Director and Registered Occupational Psychologist at Affinity Health at Work

I was struck by the overlap in themes between the two reports and the strong alignment between Affinity’s recommendations and the enablers and values set out in the ‘Better Work’ framework showcased in our report. These include highlighting the need for strong leadership that builds trust, and recognising the critical role of the line manager. We need to devote as much resource to training line managers to look after their staff as we do to looking after their data.

Dr Rachel Lewis, Director and Registered Occupational Psychologist at Affinity Health at Work said: “The pandemic led organisations to offer more support but it is clear we need to take a systemic approach to mental health at work to create real impact.”

This endorses the focus on job design in BITC’s wellbeing campaign. Central to improving job design during the pandemic and creating sustainably good jobs for employees is designing good work. Empowering employees to co-create their own jobs, in line with organisational objectives, is a radical but necessary step on the path to better mental health at work.

Our ambition for BITC members is to seize this opportunity by taking two actions:

  1. Make the Mental Health at Work Commitment – a public declaration of putting mental health at the heart of post-pandemic recovery 
  2. Tackle the systemic root causes of work related poor mental health

This means prioritising standard 2 of the Mental Health at Work Commitment by implementing BITC’s ‘Better Work’ framework showcased in our What if your job was good for you? report. The framework provides the foundations for achieving parity between mental and physical health and safety and the opportunity for employees to co-create their own ‘good jobs’ supported by managers and aligned with organisational practices and policies.

Next steps

If you are a BITC member and would like our support to embed wellbeing into your organisational culture contact your relationship manager. Not sure who your relationship manager is?

If you are not a BITC member talk to us to learn how membership can help you take your responsible business journey further and drive lasting change.

achievE better mental health outcomes for YOUR employees