Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Correspondent "Editor's Choice" September 2011

Welcome to the latest selection of progress and well-being related articles from Dafydd Thomas of our Correspondents, the Wellbeing Wales Network

We’ve all been there, impossible deadlines, absurd workloads and no end in sight. In such a situation, the support or otherwise from your line manager is crucial. In an article for HR Magazine , Professor Cooper of Lancaster University reports on the number of high level reports on work and wellbeing that identify line management as a “key aspect of employee health and wellbeing.”

As the economy falters, the Coalition Government is looking to make savings through cuts and other austerity measures. Ironically this inevitably means that fewer people are doing more work and some people are left doing no work at all. Unemployment has a huge impact on individuals and communities, but according to the UK Government Foresight project, stress and poor mental wellbeing at work costs the UK £25.9 billion per annum in sickness absence, presenteeism and labour turnover. Tackling this issue could put a sizeable dent in the UK’s deficit and reduce the needs for the cuts in the first place.

So what’s the answer? Professor Cooper feels that people management skills should be given more attention in the UK’s Business Schools, where currently very little is done to train the future captains of industry about “the increasing importance of man-management skills.” He feels that managers should be selected on their social and interpersonal skills rather than on technical knowledge. This would go some way to fixing the “manager problem” (we all have one of those) and reduce what is a substantial financial burden for the British economy.

Andrew Simms’ piece in the Guardian highlighted the dominance that conventional economics has in the UK Government’s policies. Where Professor Cooper feels that the economic system needs decision makers with better people skills to increase individual and collective wellbeing, Simms explains how our economy needs a fundamental shift in focus. He would like to see an economy of “better, not more,” by rethinking what is meant by productivity and efficiency. He suggests that people want financial security based on greater equality and fairness – not continual, destructive growth. This approach would also ensure that the environment on which we all depend remains intact.

Finally, the headline “Fifteen minutes of exercise can help” deserves a mention. It is, according to my colleague, pretty obvious. It’s based on a piece of research that found “some exercise is better than none.” My colleague remained unimpressed by this revelation, but conceded that people had to start somewhere. Maybe that’s the take home message here. Some change is better than none, in order to create that “economy of better,” managed in a way that does its best for the people and the communities its supposed to serve.

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