Good Day at Work, the Robertson Cooper Annual Well-being Network Conference, London, UK, 1 November 2012

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 15 February 2013


Moss, B. (2013), "Good Day at Work, the Robertson Cooper Annual Well-being Network Conference, London, UK, 1 November 2012", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 12 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Good Day at Work, the Robertson Cooper Annual Well-being Network Conference, London, UK, 1 November 2012

Article Type: Resources From: Strategic HR Review, Volume 12, Issue 2

Event reviews

Ben MossDirector at Robertson Cooper

The theme of the Good Day at Work annual conference on 1 November was “Who is responsible for well-being?.” The short answer is that there are many different stakeholders, but the event aimed to explore in more detail who can, or should, drive the momentum of the well-being agenda, and how we can align different stakeholder activity to create more positive change.

Perseverance required

While it was agreed that CEOs, line managers, employees, and various business functions all have roles to play, it seems there are still some barriers to getting these groups on board.

Many delegates and speakers felt the importance of a supportive CEO cannot be underestimated; John Timpson, chairman of Timpson, gave an excellent presentation which confirmed the difference this can make. Unfortunately the audience confirmed that they face ongoing difficulties persuading senior management to invest – a recurring problem that’s not quite been cracked despite a strong business case. Calls to action from Cary Cooper (Robertson Cooper) and Ann Francke (chairman of the Chartered Management Institute) urged delegates to continue to safeguard funding in this area, by focusing on winning over both hearts and minds using a combination of the research-based evidence and localized examples of success.

The need for bravery and perseverance to create change was a sentiment reiterated by several speakers throughout the day. John Timpson spoke of the time it took for his approach to yield results and Tom Nixon (WorldBlu) highlighted the importance of living without fear; stressing that as individuals and organizations we need to be willing and open to try something different, and be prepared for the fact that some ideas will fail, but that this is part of growth and innovation.

Organizational change

Despite the barriers, there was also evidence that it is possible to focus on employee well-being and run a successful commercial business – and not only if you are a radical, young start-up or big-budgeted multinational. Scottish Water was an example of a large public sector firm that has reached the tipping point where employee well-being is a given and each initiative does not require a comprehensive business case and an uphill battle for approval.

Of course a supportive and committed CEO does help, but change can come from everywhere and responsibility needs to be taken throughout the organization. The role that organizational democracy can play was made clear by Nixon, and during the panel session Doug Shaw (What Goes Around Ltd) argued that grass roots employee support is what will really make the difference. Both were effectively calling for organizations to break down hierarchical structures in order to help this happen. A key message of the day was the importance of employee freedom, balanced by responsibility and accountability throughout the organization.

The need to equip the individual to help themselves was also highlighted, particularly during the mindfulness workshop led by subject expert Michael Chaskalson. Ben Moss, managing director, Robertson Cooper, explained that this message is the driving force behind the launch of the new online community, Good Day at Work. A groundswell of support for the well-being agenda from informed employees will bring the responsibility full circle, as initiatives are more readily taken up and ROI increases, in turn reinforcing the business case and making it easier to secure that all important board level support.