What Works Centre for Wellbeing is an independent organisation from UK that produce robust, relevant and accessible evidence on wellbeing.
- They define the wellbeing concept as a way to understand what’s needed and how best we can all work together to improve our lives in a complex world. It brings together economic, social, environmental, democratic and personal outcomes and avoids focusing on specific areas at the expense of others. We can be better at measuring what matters and using what we know to create a better society. It is about engaging citizens in meaningful deliberation about what better society could look like.
I would like to focus on the report: Good work, wellbeing and changes in performance outcomes. This report published in december 2017 illustrates the effect of good people management with an analysis of National Health Service Trusts in England. The evidence says that the extensive use of good people‐management practices can have benefits for organisational performance and employee wellbeing.
Good people‐management practices are those which, for example:
- provide opportunities for workers to influence their work directly and allow staff to have input into decisions about their wider working environment;
- have clear roles and responsibilities for staff;
- encourage staff to communicate respectfully with each other, to collaborate, to be supportive of each other and to work effectively in their teams.
- enhance workers’ skills and support workers with access to learning and development opportunities;
- improve their motivation to perform well, provide feedback on their work through fair, accurate, supportive and effective performance management processes;
- encourage managers to support their people, through, for example, encouraging staff, giving advice and providing help with work problems.
They found that NHS Trusts that made the most extensive use of good people‐management practices were:
- Over twice as likely to have staff with the highest levels of job satisfaction compared to NHS Trusts that made least use of these practices.
- Over three times more likely to have staff with the highest levels of engagement.
- Over four times more likely to have the most satisfied patients.
- Over three times more likely to have the lowest levels of sickness absence.
- No link was found between people management practices and patient mortality.
Things to consider in order to introduce good people management practices
- Review where you are at now. Is there a problem with wellbeing, absence, staff turnover or engagement? Are jobs as secure and remuneration and other benefits as good as other similar
- Get senior management sponsorship and support for changes to people management practices. Make sure senior management buy into the idea of improvements for the sake of sustainable performance and staff wellbeing and are prepared to make the necessary commitments to make improvements in jobs. Senior managers may publically sign pledges, but also involve senior managers in project management and make regular reports to the senior management team.
- Get support and commitment from line managers, HR and relevant management teams. Management commitment to the changes is important at all levels. Involve senior managers in getting commitment from other management groups. It might be useful to hold workshops with managers to discuss why changes are necessary, how the changes might affect them and how they will benefit. Review performance management and other people management practices to ensure managers are also supported appropriately.
- Open a dialogue with workers about their jobs to find out what they see as important in the way they do their jobs, how they feel they are managed and how they are supported. Show workers that the changes are intended to have business and personal benefits, and that one of core values underpinning the changes is improved wellbeing. Be specific in identifying what can be changed and how to make jobs more interesting and satisfying, and look for changes that will improve wellbeing and performance. Also, gather information on who is best placed to make the changes. For example, workers themselves are often best placed to know what needs to change but they may not know how to make the changes themselves without appropriate support and training. Workshops and focus groups can be helpful to gather information, and larger organisations may find staff surveys useful.
- Identify what needs to change and who is best placed to make the changes. Use the information from the dialogue with workers to identify what can be improved. This is also the stage to make cost‐effectiveness or return‐on‐investment projections to help choose between different courses of action. Improvements need to be feasible and acceptable to the different parties, so it is worth checking and refining plans at this stage. Check that workers have the right skills for any new roles or responsibilities and that their performance requirements are compatible with the changes. Introduce additional training and development and change other people management practices to ensure compatibility. At this stage, also decide on who is best placed to make each of the changes. This might entail a combination of groups, with staff and line managers making changes to how work is done and HR managers making changes to training, development and performance measurement/appraisal practices. Be mindful that you may need to make changes to other practices. Be sure that the changes will not work against other businesses processes and practices. For example, this could be the case if an organisation allows people the chance to use more intellectual skills and to take decisions that affect their work, yet management information systems restrict access to relevant information.
- Once you have identified what needs to be done, the changes need to be made. To do so, empower and support those best placed to make the changes. Make sure there is a level of accountability for making the changes. This means that there should be regular, timely and appropriate feedback on how the changes are progressing given to all concerned including senior managers.
- Therefore, at the same time, monitor, evaluate, review and revise the changes if necessary – are they delivering wellbeing and other business benefits? Are the changes sticking? What could be done to improve implementation? Through reviewing, revising and monitoring, it is possible to build a continuous improvement cycle so that initial improvements to jobs, performance and wellbeing can lead to cumulative improvements in jobs, performance and wellbeing over time as workers and managers gain more knowledge, capabilities and confidence in making incremental improvements in their work areas. In some organisations it may be possible to introduce changes in one area to see if changes are working, and then take lessons learnt to introduce changes in another area a few months after the initial changes have had chance to bed down.