UK Government announces new research programme into workplace wellbeing

workplace wellbeingThe UK Government’s interest in what makes us happy continues unabated with the news that it has officially launched its new What Works Centre for Wellbeing. The centre will commission researchers  to study ‘the impact that different interventions and services have on wellbeing’. It will focus initially on work and learning, communities, cultural and sporting activities. It claims that the results of the research will help the government, councils, health and wellbeing boards, charities and businesses make decisions on what ‘really matters for the wellbeing of people, communities and the nation as a whole’. The centre is the latest addition to the What Works Network, which was launched by the government last year to improve public services through evidence-based policy. It builds on the work of the Office for National Statistics which has been tasked with measuring national wellbeing, and of the Commission on Wellbeing and Policy.

The centre is funded at £3.5 million over a period of three years by the Economic and Social Research Council, Public Health England and other partners, including government departments. To mark the launch of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published complementary research on employee wellbeing, what workplace factors influence it and how wellbeing affects performance. The research aims to shows how the promotion of workplace wellbeing can have a positive impact on business performance. Policies such as flexible working and shared parental leave help people improve their work-life balance, while reducing absenteeism, boosting productivity and increasing staff morale.

Minister for Government Policy, Oliver Letwin said: “The What Works Network is designed to support commissioners and decision-makers at every level of government – from head teachers and local police chiefs, to ministers and civil servants. It’s great to see a wellbeing centre added to this growing network, to support public health directors, businesses and charities in improving wellbeing across the UK.”