Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 9, Issue 3
The Business Well-being Network Annual Conference, London, UK, 11 November 2009
More than 100 HR and well-being practitioners attended the Business Well-being Network Annual Conference, hosted by Robertson Cooper. Many attendees are members of Robertson Cooper’s Business Well-being Network, a community approach to sharing knowledge in this area.
Speakers included Steve Boorman, who gave an update on his review of staff well-being in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS); David Macleod who carried out a government-commissioned review of employee engagement and gave a joint presentation on employee well-being and engagement with Ivan Robertson, managing director of Roberson Cooper; and Jamie Mitchell, former managing director of Innocent Drinks who discussed growing and managing a leading well-being brand, including how to align working practices with the brand.
To end the day, there was a lively and interactive panel session hosted by business guru René Carayol. The debate focused on how companies can get beyond simple diagnosis and really make a difference to employee well-being and engagement levels. The panel representatives included Robertson Cooper’s Professor Cary Cooper, Jamie Mitchell, job design specialist Professor Chris Clegg from the University of Leeds and Robertson Cooper director Jill Flint-Taylor. Carayol challenged the panelists to identify what needed to change if well-being was to take center stage in organizations. Professor Cooper asserted that HR had to be stronger and find its voice in the boardroom; Jill Flint-Taylor identified leadership as the key factor for driving well-being in organizations; while Jamie Mitchell called for a heavyweight panel comprising the likes of the CBI, our best thought leaders and key government representatives to really put well-being on the corporate map. Robertson Cooper and the network members plan to revisit these suggestions in 2010.
Other speakers included representatives from Sainsbury’s, ebay, Vielife, Greater Manchester Police, RogenSi and NHS Employers. The feedback from delegates was that they particularly valued the community feel of the event – the general openness and willingness to share.
Knowledge sharing opportunity
Additionally on the day, Robertson Cooper launched new research, which estimated the prevalence of “Presenteeism” – people coming to work despite being ill – to be as high as 25 percent. The authors suggested that a primary reason for this finding is likely to be staff trying to prove their commitment to employers.
Of the 39,000 people surveyed, 50 percent stated that their health was “good,” with the rest describing it as either “poor” or “alright.” Despite this, 26 percent claimed to have taken no sick leave in the last three months of work, while reporting less than optimum health – this was the presenteeism group. Unsurprisingly, this group also reported lower productivity than their “healthier” colleagues – with just 38 percent claiming their productivity was at 90 percent or above, compared with 51 percent of workers in the “healthy” group. In particular, they reported poorer work relationships, a worse work-life balance and more work overload than their healthy counterparts. It seems that the assertion of the Foresight Mental Capital and Well-Being project, developed to advise the UK government on mental health and well-being, that presenteeism is more damaging than absenteeism may have some weight. Delegates had an opportunity to discuss and explore the issues associated with this emerging area with the researchers throughout the day.
Finally, the conference also saw the launch of the 2009 Business Well-being Network annual report, “UK perspectives on employee engagement and well-being.” The report features the latest developments in employee engagement and well-being; it covers topics such as developing resilience, managing presenteeism and tackling musculoskeletal problems. Contributors include David Macleod, Cary Cooper, Vielife, Transport for London and Vodafone. For more information, visit: www.robertsoncooper.com
Ben Mossis a Director at Robertson Cooper.