Wellbeing at Work: integrating management, health, economic and social policy perspectives

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details


An interdisciplinary research group involving faculty of the York Management School, the Social Policy Research Unit/SPSW, Health Sciences and the Centre for Health Economics was convened, to provide a forum for developing a number of projects that reflect different developments, narratives and evidence gaps concerning the future of wellbeing in the workplace. Each named member of the group has an established portfolio of work in a relevant topic area. The formation of this group has allowed us to come together to consolidate working relationships and progress funding applications to external bodies.

Layman's description

Wellbeing at work, and mental wellbeing in particular, have been growing topics of social concern for over a decade, driven by costs of an estimated £70 billion in social security benefits, additional health support and lost tax revenue. Mental ill health is now the leading cause of work-related illness and sickness absence in the UK, with musculoskeletal problems also proving an enduring challenge and long-term and fluctuating conditions also receiving increasing attention on workplace health agenda. In the coming years the workforce is projected to get older and by 2030 it is projected that 40% of the working age population could have a long term condition impacting on their ability to be productive and happy at work. The causes, implications and policy responses to poor workplace wellbeing are complex and multifaceted, involving not only health but also social and economic factors. Furthermore, the size and sector of workplaces has a bearing on how wellbeing can be effectively supported and the specific ways in which employee wellbeing impacts upon the business. In particular, there is a significant gap in knowledge in how small businesses experience, respond to, and are affected by mental ill health in the workplace and how organisation-wide wellbeing policies can be implemented in such settings. Whilst these issues have been recognised by policy, there remain a number of unanswered questions regarding ‘what works’ in specific contexts, and fundamental concepts of ‘wellbeing’ remain shifting and disputed.

Key findings

Internal funding from the Research Centre for the Social Sciences (ReCSS) Interdisciplinary Research Groups Funding Scheme has faciliated the establishment of a cross-departmental collaborative network on the topic of workplace wellbeing. This project has kick-started an ongoing virtual network of academic members across multiple and diverse departments of the university, and is supporting interdisciplinary proposal development and non-academic external network-building.
Effective start/end date19/01/1731/07/17