Research shows success in workplace wellbeing training

April 6, 2017, University of East Anglia

An international review of evidence on workplace learning shows workplace training specifically designed to improve wellbeing is effective. Regardless of what kind of training is used, the research reveals the majority of techniques had a positive impact: from mindfulness to problem solving, life skills to happiness.

The review also found that in some sectors, training to improve professional capabilities, such as emotional intelligence or conflict management, may also have positive benefits for the learner. However, the evidence was mainly focused in the health sector and the evidence base needs to be developed.

The learning process could be the key to success. E-learning may be cost effective, but early evidence suggests that leadership or manager support training was more likely to offer wellbeing benefits when the included interactive elements, rather than only self-directed training.

Learning at work and wellbeing from the What Works Centre for Wellbeing draws on evidence from the UK and other similar developed economies. This is the first time a systematic review has shown which types and formats of training are most effective to support wellbeing in addition to learning. The review was conducted by a team based at the Universities of East Anglia, Sheffield, Reading and Essex.

The evidence supports the effectiveness of wellbeing training. However, this is part of a more complicated picture and training employees to better cope is not the end of the story. Wellbeing is also highly dependent on job quality, including autonomy and social relations, where employers should focus effort.

Prof Olga Tregaskis, professor of International Human Resource Management at the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Norwich Business School, said: "Workplace training and development has the potential to deliver wellbeing benefits in addition to improved organisational performance.

"Employee wellbeing is critical to sustainable performance and leading firms recognise the importance of embedding wellbeing within their management practice. Training and development is an important lever available to both individuals and employers."

Nancy Hey, director of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing said: "We know work is important for wellbeing and that we need to do more to improve wellbeing at . What has been less well understood is what actions organisations can take that will have an impact.

"This comprehensive review of published is a great first step to better understand what works with training to improve wellbeing in the workplace.

"We will now look at cost effectiveness of the different types of , to make sure the research is as practical as possible for companies to assess what's the right approach for them."

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