What if your job was good for you?

A year into the pandemic can any business afford to ignore workplace health?

Business in the Community (BITC) – The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has collaborated with senior business leaders and national stakeholders to produce a report identifying how employers can take action to transform wellbeing at work.

Released today, the What If Your Job Was Good For You? report advocates two calls to action for employers that build on lessons learnt from the pandemic:

  1. Treat mental health and safety with the same importance as physical health and safety
  2. Collaborate with colleagues to enable employees to create their own “good jobs” within organisational parameters

Employees do not expect to be physically injured at work and nor should their mental health be negatively impacted. However, the reality is that 41% of employees developed mental health issues caused by work in the last year.1

Although work is part of the issue, good job design must be part of the solution. The organisations which thrive during this period of post-pandemic recovery will be those that put people first. The report sets out ways of working that involve a collaborative, individual approach to job roles, that focus on relationships between employees and managers that encourage open dialogue.

Dr Rachel Lewis, Director at Affinity Health at Work and Reader in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, said: “41% of employees have experienced a mental health issue due to work or where work was a contributory factor. Just imagine if this shocking statistic was about physical injury at work. We have long recognised the lack of parity between the way that mental health and physical health are addressed in workplaces, particularly in terms of taking a preventative focus. We welcome the opportunity afforded by this ground-breaking report to redress that balance, offering organisations practical evidence-based insights to redesign jobs in ways which have the power to change employees lives for the better.” 

Dr Jo Yarker, Director at Affinity Health at Work and Reader in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London, added: “Returning to normal is no longer an option. Employees are resistant to the idea of returning to the office full time and their expectations of good work have evolved. It is encouraging to see more employers than ever are open to moving away from pre-pandemic norms towards more flexible ways of working as a viable and preferred opportunity for the future. Rather than recommendations for new policies and processes, this report demonstrates how by taking a collaborative and individualised approach to job design, putting the line manager at the front and centre, organisations can build better jobs and more sustainable organisations.” 

David Oldfield, CEO Commercial Banking, and Interim Group Chief Operating Officer, Lloyds Banking Group, and Chair of the Wellbeing Leadership Team at Business in the Community said: “Overnight, the pandemic changed the nature and place of work for many of us and we now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to reimagine ways of working and transform mental health and wellbeing at work. Working from home, and hybrid working, have created opportunities for taking a more inclusive and individual approach that enables people to co-create their own “good jobs”. With the importance of listening to employee voices, mental health and safety needs to be established on parity with physical health and safety so everyone can speak out without fear of negative consequences. I strongly urge employers to take action, and learn from each other, to leave a positive legacy from what we’ve learned in the past 15 months.”

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development added: “We’re proud to support this important new report from Business in the Community which highlights the need for employers to take a strategic and integrated approach to workplace wellbeing in all its forms. Commitment and visible leadership from senior leaders on health and wellbeing are key to fostering an environment where people feel fully supported and able to speak up. There is more expectation now that organisations put people first, provide good jobs together with supportive cultures and places of work, including opportunities for flexible ways of working. These are all essential in enhancing wellbeing, but also in engagement and retention of staff and critical business outcomes including productivity. The pandemic has forced us all to focus more on people’s health and wellbeing, and we all have the opportunity to take these learnings forwards to help better working lives for all.”

Louise Aston, Wellbeing Director at Business in the Community, concluded: “Our report is evidence-based but there are still many unknowns, with the best practices around future ways of working still to be written. During this period of transition into this new era, Business in the Community is convening a collaborative movement that enables businesses to take a test and learn approach, where businesses can learn together, build knowledge and share insights to help everyone navigate the journey ahead, recognising that we can’t achieve change on our own. Publicly demonstrate your commitment to action, transform mental health and wellbeing at work.”

 

Ends

Notes to editor

About the What If Work Was Good For You? report

Data was taken from nine case studies with members of Business in the Community’s wellbeing, gender and race equality leadership teams, as well as the Thriving at Work Leadership Council and national stakeholders including CIPD, Mental Health UK, Mind and Society of Occupational Medicine.

The report was also informed by statistical analyses from the Business in the Community Mental Health at Work Survey (2020), conducted in partnership with Bupa and Business in the Community’s wellbeing leadership team, as well as a literature review looking across academic, practice and policy literature. This provided insights into the best ways of working to promote sustainable mental health outcomes and was conducted by Affinity Health at Work.

About Business in the Community  

Business in the Community is the oldest and largest business-led membership organisation dedicated to responsible business. We were created nearly 40 years ago by HRH The Prince of Wales to champion responsible business.  We inspire, engage and challenge members and we mobilise that collective strength as a force for good in society to:     

  • Develop a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow   
  • Build thriving communities where people want to live and work   
  • Innovate to sustain and repair our planet.   

References 
1 Business in the Community (2020). Mental Health at Work report.