Can we design our jobs better than our boss?

Evidence backs employee training and support to design their own jobs, and finding ways to help managers better understand staff concerns.

New research looks across the international evidence base – from an initial pool of over 4,000 studies – to reveal which practical actions in the workplace are effective for improving wellbeing and performance – and which are not.

Studies have shown that job type or industry sector are not necessarily defining factors of what makes a good job.

Instead, things like how secure the job is; our social connections; on-the-job learning opportunities; supportive organisations; and clear responsibilities are just some of the elements seen by employees as more important.

The new research, carried out by researchers at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Business School as part of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, reviewed studies of the practical actions organisations can take to maximise their chances of designing high quality jobs.

Only 28 per cent of us in the UK are highly satisfied with our jobs. Which means that more than seven in 10 of us are not. Our happiest days are the weekends. And yet, estimates suggest that an adult in work would spend an average of 57 per cent of our waking hours working.

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing recommends that policy-makers create incentives for employers to develop high quality work, as well as guidance on how to do so. They point to the Management Standards for Work-Related Stress issued by the Health and Safety Executive, and suggest adapting them to include the evidence-based actions outlined in the review.

Nancy Hey, director of the The What Works Centre says:

“The evidence shows us that getting employees involved in designing their own job means listening to their needs, supporting their development and training them where appropriate. Organisations need to look at how embedded wellbeing is in their DNA, not only within one department or champion. We want to see more discussion in workplaces about what a quality job looks like in that company.”

 

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