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Wellbeing at Work

Enhancing Staff Wellbeing

Enhancing Staff Wellbeing


Why should schools and colleges invest in staff wellbeing?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  Wellbeing at Work factsheet  (April 2019) states that:

“Fostering employee well-being is good for people and the organisation. Promoting well-being can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive. Good health and well-being can be a core enabler of employee engagement and organisational performance.”

In addition to the clear business case for staff wellbeing there is an ethical responsibility for employers to cultivate healthy workplaces. Increasingly there is a belief, championed by the CIPD, that work should meet more than basic financial needs by also providing meaning and purpose to improve quality of life and therefore overall wellbeing.

The impact of poor staff wellbeing

Recent research by the CIPD has linked low levels of wellbeing to increased costs, for example higher levels of sickness absence, longer periods of sickness absence and greater frequency of long term illness. Research has also shown increased costs due to a failure to retain staff with a clear link between wellbeing levels and intent to leave an organisation.

A 2016 CIPD Survey found that mental ill health at work affected 4.6 million people. In 20% of organisations surveyed it was the biggest cause of long term absence, and in 60% of organisations surveyed it was in the top three causes of long term absence.

Predictors of employee wellbeing

Recent research undertaken by Robertson Cooper and BWC (Creating Well Workplaces – Helping Employees Play Their Part ) identifies three key predictors of poor wellbeing:

  • Job insecurity
  • Overload – a sense of not being in control, unable to manage or impact your quality of life
  • Unsupportive environments – not feeling valued or trusted with a lack of social connection


The research also showed that those employees who have a stronger propensity to experience positive emotions and who have the self-discipline to motivate themselves, combined with a lower sensitivity to distress, are more likely to thrive. Another key finding is a growing acceptance by people that they have significant personal control over their sense of wellbeing - that a sense of overload can be self-managed and improved by one’s own actions. Understandably not all employees have a “glass half full” personality with a high level of personal resilience. By supporting employees in developing resilience and self-management strategies, however, schools and colleges can enable more of their staff to experience a higher level of wellbeing.

Government research suggests that employee wellbeing is enhanced where:

  • Employees perceive a level of control over how to do their job and, just as importantly, a degree of control over issues within the broader organisation, such as participation in decision making.
  • There is a variety of work.
  • Expectations of performance are clear through feedback mechanisms.
  • There is the opportunity to use and develop skills through training.
  • There is positive interpersonal contact and social support.
  • There is a perception of fairness in terms of treatment, both with respect to the individual employee and other staff.
  • There is physical security, in terms of safety, appropriate equipment and a pleasant working environment.
  • There is job security as well as career prospects.
  • There is higher pay, specifically in relation to others performing the same role.
  • The individual’s own perception is that their job role carries significance, both within the organisation and within society as a whole.


Managers have varying degrees of control over these factors, however how well managers build relationships, manage performance and attendance, communicate and act as a role model for staff indisputably affects engagement, job satisfaction, work-life balance and, ultimately, wellbeing.  

Use the menu on the right to access additional articles on enhancing employee wellbeing.