Fulfillment at work: fewer “well-being” workshops and more organizational changes

Fulfillment at work: fewer “well-being” workshops and more organizational changes

Meditation workshops, stress management or relaxation sessions… Companies do not skimp on the means to improve the well-being of their employees. Problem is, these intervention programs would not have the expected effects. This is what a recent study carried out among more than 46,000 British employees reveals.

This is one of the areas of concern for bosses and managers: how to bring employees back to the office, and ensure – if possible – that they are productive? The health crisis has completely reshaped the contours of the world of work, with employees now keen on ultra-flexibility, as well as an increasingly marked desire to prioritize well-being to the detriment – sometimes – of performance. Two things which are not without consequences on the productivity of those mainly concerned. Many studies have shown that productivity is increasingly correlated with happiness or well-being at work. Information that employers have not taken lightly, unpacking a whole arsenal of programs intended to improve the mental health of employees.

No or little profit

But what are these wellness programs really worth? This is the question that scientists from the Wellbeing Research Center at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom tried to answer. They analyzed the data and responses of 46,336 workers from 233 British organizations and companies offering this type of program. In total, no less than 90 well-being interventions of all kinds were scrutinized, including courses and programs in mindfulness, resilience, or stress management, massage or relaxation workshops. , sleep interventions, training on workload management, and even volunteering.

Published in the Industrial Relations Journal, the study suggests that individual mental wellbeing interventions are not effective. Their conclusions do not in any case demonstrate the benefits for employees. “There is growing consensus that companies need to change the workplace, not just the worker. This study examines wellbeing interventions in hundreds of workplaces, complementing trials that often take place in single companies, and the lack of benefit suggests we need to be more ambitious when it comes to aims to improve the well-being of employees. I hope these results will stimulate research and action by employers“, underlines Dr William Fleming, main author of this work, in a press release.

More effective volunteering?

In detail, the study shows no difference between employees who participated in relaxation workshops, time management, coaching, and other well-being applications, and those who did not benefit from them. The researchers note, however, that volunteering is the only type of intervention that could prove effective for the well-being of those primarily concerned. And again, the authors specify that “the estimated effects are small“, especially since these interventions are not – generally – part of the programs put in place to improve well-being at work.

I agree with analysts in the field that organizational interventions, such as changes to schedules, management practices, personnel resources, performance evaluation or job design , seem more beneficial in improving well-being“, concludes the main author of this research.