Live Blog: CIPD 2017 #Think Conference – Sir Cary Cooper

The way we are working is not good. Something needs to change. We need to reduce the use of technology and get tough on organisational culture and people’s bad behaviour that is encouraging poor working habits. We have all the science to know why people get ill from work place we now need to do something about it.

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Mental capital and well-being at work by Sir Cary Cooper – Professor of organisational psychology and health

Sir Cary rolled out his research and dusted off his slides to provide us all with an insight to the cost and impact of neglecting the wellbeing of employees in the workplace. Here are my main takes outs and some of them are pretty obvious, yet we still do nothing about them:

Work smarter rather than longer

The longer you work the less productive you are. In the UK, we work longer hours and use technology more than any other nation yet were are dramatically less productive than the rest of Europe. If you work long hours you will get ill. The way we are working is not good. We need some self-control. It’s causing stress, ill health and reducing productivity. Something needs to change. We need to reduce the use of technology and get tough on organisational culture and people’s bad behaviour that is encouraging poor working habits.

For example emails sent to everyone just to protect yourself, reading emails after working hours, emailing people in the same office as yourself. France have now made it illegal in France to send subordinates emails outside of working hours. We have all the science to know why people get ill from work place we now need to do something about it.

Employee engagement surveys, do they make a difference?

Yes and no. Everyone wants a magic bullet on productivity – productivity is function of your line manager – create the right conditions and right feelings and productivity and wellness will flow. In other words, look to your culture. Employee engagement is 1 part of puzzle, the other part being culture. Create a feeling that people have your back, not watching it. Control and autonomy are more important to people and culture than engagement. Your boss should carry a “dangerous to your health” warning.

The boss is the most important person for health and well being

Line managers are not socially skilled, they are not good at leading people and restrict culture. If you don’t give people the skills to manage people then they wont get them as we give them knowledge at business schools not the ability to lead people. Correlation between well being and productivity is linked. Because it all hits the bottom line. After introducing a wellness programme in one company they saw a saving of £1201 p/p if this was done across the UK it would pay for more than 243,000 nurses.

Long term absence from work is led by stress and mental ill health

Presenteeism costs more than double that of absenteeism post 2007. On average, the cost per employee of absenteeism and presentism is £1035 per employee with a total of £70bn a year lost to mental health. This is now a must have not a nice to have. Sometimes HR have more power than they think, these issues are becoming legal requirements they may have to be confrontational at times.

“Who do HR represent the staff or management? HR don’t stick neck out enough and say when things are wrong, they need to step up. Sometimes you just have to do it.”

Sir Cary Cooper

This was live-blogged during a session at the CIPD Jersey #Think Conference – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.

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