The Good Work and Mental Wellbeing Lab from Eduard Iacob's blog

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The Good Work and Mental Wellbeing Lab

Fresh Thinking Labs and Mindful Employer are delighted to launch the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab in association with Macmillan Cancer Support, E.ON, Jacobs and TNO (the Dutch national research organisation).

Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that 1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental health problem at some time in their life with the result that 17 million working days are lost each year, at a cost of around £26bn to UK employers alone.

These figures only paint part of the picture, and recent research has also shown that employees are likely to give different reasons for taking sick leave because of poor mental health.

While there is undoubtedly a myriad of factors contributing to individual mental health – whether genetic, environmental, or otherwise – it is clear that the workplace has huge potential either to promote or to undermine mental wellbeing.

Good work supports mental well-being for everyone. Employers increasingly recognise the need to identify and support people with mental health problems but the wider task is to identify and address those workplace practices which build or undermine mental well-being. So, what can employers do to become part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

The Lab is based on a small, closed network of companies, public sector and not-for-profit employers committed to exploring and developing future-focused workplaces that generate positive mental health and well-being for all through healthy and engaging work.

The Lab
  • Enables the sharing of good practice and ideas between workplaces.
  • Creates a forum for collaborative innovation and problem solving.
  • Bridges the gap between research and practice.
  • Draws on experience from our network of leading companies from across Europe.
  • Will generate a practical guide to positive mental health at work, exclusively for Lab participants.

  • Meetings hosted by member companies, each providing an opportunity to share achievements and current challenges.
  • Build active relationships with your peers in other member organisations.
  • Be part of an online community with access to a wider international network.
  • Expert guidance relating to evidence-based practice.

Premium Members can join at no extra cost!

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How the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab  will help

The Lab offers a unique opportunity to bring together leading experts and experienced practitioners in a journey of knowledge sharing, discovery and fresh thinking. Research evidence will be tested against the reality of busy workplaces with competing priorities, while good practices in host organisations will be examined by ‘critical friends’ to explore their robustness and generalisability.

Based on the above analysis, the Lab’s agenda begins with the following themes, forming the framework for a practical guide to positive mental health at work prepared exclusively for Lab participants. These themes may change in response to ideas, needs and input from organisations participating in the Lab.

  • Raising Awareness

    How can we diagnose the current workplace climate and assess the factors that contribute to, or undermine, positive workplace health? How to build the business case and win support for for change? And which policies should be put in place?

  • Building a Momentum for Change

    Once the right policies are in place, how do we raise awareness of mental health and improve the standard of practice throughout the organisation?

  • Line Managers: Barrier Reef or Mental Health Ambassadors?

    Training managers in mental health awareness and fostering appropriate behaviours is often necessary but what does good practice look like – and is it sufficient? How can management roles, processes and behaviours be rethought to support positive mental health and high performance simultaneously?

  • Rethinking Job Design and Work Organisation

    We know that empowered workers are healthier and perform better – but what does this mean for the redesign of individual jobs, teams and organisational structures?

  • Leading People-Centred Change

    What is the role of leaders in promoting positive mental health at work? How are they persuaded to become visible champions of change? And how does the definition of leadership itself change?

How it works

  • The Opening Workshop. This highly interactive event combines insights and knowledge from leading experts with opportunities for participants to learn from each other and share practical experience. Expert contributors include Professor Stavroula Leka (University of Nottingham), a leading work psychologist with expertise in psychosocial risk management and promoting mental health in the workplace; and Professor Steven Dhondt (TNO, Netherlands), an international expert in job design and quality of working life.
  • Three full-day company-hosted visits (with optional dinner on the previous evening). Visits provide participants with opportunities to learn from the host company’s good practices, to meet a wide cross-section of employees and to act as ‘critical friends’ in addressing current challenges and dilemmas. Expert contributions and facilitation further enhance each visit.
  • A closing session focusing on ‘what are the lessons?’ What have we learned from the Lab to date, and how can we translate our findings into practical ways of building better jobs and workplaces that actively contribute to mental well-being?
  • Continuing dialogue with other Lab participants through membership of Fresh Thinking Labs Online, the international platform dedicated to sharing good practice within the workplace. Members benefit from bespoke introductions to other companies with similar interests, online forums, a programme of Open Events  on a wide range of key workplace topics and access to a growing body of learning resources.
The Labs will be facilitated by:

Professor Peter Totterdill, Director of Workplace Innovation Europe, an international organisation committed to sharing and developing good practice in the workplace. He has more than 25 years’ experience of helping create high performing workplaces through research and practical support for organisations. Peter is an expert advisor to the European Commission and to national and regional governments internationally.

Richard Frost, Lead at Mindful Employer, an NHS initiative providing businesses and organisations across the UK with easier access to information and support for staff who experience stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions.

Professor Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the Institute of Employment Studies, is also an advisor to the government, winner of a special award from GAMIAN-Europe for his contribution to mental health, former Director at the Work Foundation and founding president of the Fit for Work Europe Coalition.

Contact us for further details. Download the Flyer

Joining the Good Work and Mental Well-Being Lab gives you automatic membership of Fresh Thinking Labs, the International Open Source Platform for Workplace Innovation. Membership provides access to a growing international community of enterprises including an online forum and personalised introductions to others based on shared interests and experience: