Let’s Talk – Wellbeing

Wellbeing is a broad area of HR & OD practice – it covers ‘traditional’ HR absence management and increasingly includes mental health, financial wellbeing and mindfulness.  As a field it’s been gaining attention because we increasingly understand that unhealthy workforces are less likely to be productive workforces.  We are also understanding through work such as the Stevenson Farmer Report, that the scale of the challenges we face are much greater than anticipated.  We must harness our collective efforts to ensure that our employees are able to ‘thrive at work’.

As the PPMA Strategic Theme Lead for Wellbeing, I am passionate about raising awareness of the key developments in the Wellbeing space.  With my Deputy Lead, Hannah Bornet, we will be ensuring we share the latest research and best practice on wellbeing; that we signpost you to others in our membership community, or our partners and sponsors to ensure that we create a fully engaged professional HR & OD community that is focused on improving the wellbeing of our workforces, partners and other key stakeholders.

What is Wellbeing?

The Dictionary definition of wellbeing is ‘the condition of being contented, healthy, or successful; welfare.’

PPMA supports this and broadens the definition to ‘the long-term experience of feeling positive, happy and well, physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially, in our professional and personal lives.’

Why is this theme important?

The importance of individual wellbeing both inside and outside of the workplace has been receiving growing attention over recent years. Although an individual’s wellbeing is dependent upon much in their personal life, ACAS recognise that employers have a significant influence on an individual’s sense of wellbeing and it is important that employers do more to ensure that this influence is positive.

The concept of psychological safety is also gaining ground.  Research by Barbara Fredrickson (University of North Carolina) and referenced by Laura Delizonna in a Harvard Business Review article, found that “positive emotions like trust, curiosity, confidence, and inspiration broaden the mind and help us build psychological, social, and physical resources. We become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent when we feel safe”.  This is akin to work done by Megan Reitz and John Higgins around Truth to Power which we will explore in our Let’s Talk: Leadership Theme.

Our current priorities (2019/20)

As theme lead I want to ensure public services come together to share learning and best practice. We need to challenge the norm, try new and innovative ideas and share both what works and what doesn’t.

We need to support each other as part of the PPMA membership community so that our workforces can benefit from what works across our respective organisations.

The wellbeing theme has strong inter-connections across the other Let’s Talk themes, most notably ‘Let’s Talk: Future Workforce’, ‘Let’s Talk: Developing our Organisations’ and ‘Let’s Talk: You’. As Strategic Theme Leads we are committed to recognising these links and providing a joined-up approach to tackling the challenges and leveraging the opportunities across our PPMA Strategic Themes.

Given the wide remit of the wellbeing theme, for 2019/20 the PPMA Board have agreed the areas for focus will be:

  1. Digital Wellbeing
  • With greater technology such as fitbits and wellbeing apps, our employees are more aware of their wellbeing than ever before. How do we best harness this data and to what benefit?
  • On the other hand, with such technology advancements the concept of ‘flexible working’ has evolved and are we truly ever switched off from the office? What has happened to work/life balance and what is the impact of that employee wellbeing?
  1. Mental Health & Resilience
  • Mental health awareness in the workplace and our understanding of the stigma historically associated with it has progressed significantly in recent years.
  • Despite this, ACAS reports that mental health accounts for 91 million lost working days each year, more than any other illness.
  • We will best consider how ‘resilience’ is key to ensuring employees stay mentally well during difficult times in their lives. We recognise that for employees to be resilient we need to pay attention to our mental, financial, physical and spiritual health.
  1. Menopause in the Workplace
  • The Department for Work and Pensions reports that the proportion of women aged 50 to 64 with jobs has risen by 50% over the past 30 years.
  • Half of women quizzed in a survey by charity Wellbeing of Women said symptoms made work life worse.
  • Let’s consider how we can ‘destigmatise’ the issues of menopause at work and better support our female workforce.

Back to Let’s Talk Themes page

Inspiring Bloggers and Writers 

During the response to Coronavirus we discovered some wonderful Bloggers and Writers.  We have featured key pieces on our Coronavirus Hub: Being Well and Staying Well page.  You can access that here.

We have also decided to provide links to additional websites here.