NIHR funding for UofG research into happier and healthier workplaces

Published: 20 October 2023

University of Glasgow academics have received NIHR Work and Health Research Programme funding for projects that support happiness and health in the workplace.

University of Glasgow academics have received NIHR Work and Health Research Programme funding for projects that support happiness and health in the workplace.

The development funding marks the beginning of a substantial investment to boost work and health research within the UK. The research will find better ways to support working age people to remain in, return to, and leave work healthier and happier.

‘EDI Smart-Dash: Supporting health organisations to develop a more inclusive working environment’ is led by the UofG’s Professor Rosalind Searle (Adam Smith Business School) and Professor Roberta Fida (Aston University). This aims to understand how NHS hospitals currently assess and deal with staff equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and the challenges they experience. It will also undertake preliminary work to develop a ‘smart’ information tool supporting NHS workplaces to diagnose the problems they face, identify effective changes to make, and how to make them.

Professor Rosalind Searle said: “Our health workforce draws on the talents from across the world to provide outstanding care. Yet this is a workforce that experiences high levels of bullying, harassment and discrimination. This exciting new evidence-based project combines the skills of researchers from work psychology, human resources and computer science working alongside staff members from NHS trusts to better understand the challenges faced, the current data and identify how it could be improved.”

‘Prediction of Older Workers disEngagement and their Retention in the UK (POWER)’ is led by Professor Ewan Macdonald and Dr Simon Walker (School of Health and Wellbeing). It will explore whether it is possible to identify older workers at risk of losing their jobs to help them stay in work if they choose. This three-part project will identify risk factors for job loss in working people aged
50-64 years; develop a large and diverse network to find ways that occupational health can reduce risk factors; and consider whether existing databases can be used to assess if occupational health does reduce risk factors for job loss for older people.

Professor Ewan Macdonald said: "Currently we have a skilled aging workforce who typically find remaining within work or returning to work post absence increasingly difficult as they get older. Our multidisciplinary UK wide research team, including a dedicated PPIE group, will explore the possibilities, using the Occupational Health setting, to develop job-loss prediction tools and test the acceptability of interventions among employees and employers to enable aging workers to stay in work should they wish to do so."

‘A Work And Health Research Data (AWAHRD) Platform’ is led by Dr Evangelia Demou (School of Health and Wellbeing) and Professor Martie van Tongeren (University of Manchester). This project will look to improve on the ways how work and health data can successfully be used in research. Findings will be used to develop an important data resource for work and health research in the UK that can be used to measure the effect of policies and other interventions on workforce health. This will have long-term benefits to workers, their families, employers and society.

There are around 13.7 million working-age people in the UK with a long-term health condition. This includes 8.3 million disabled people whose condition reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Only five in 10 disabled people of working age are in work, compared to eight in 10 non-disabled people. Research to help improve working health includes both physical health and mental health. It has the potential to deliver substantial benefits across the UK. These include economic and social benefits for individuals, employers and wider society.

The new funding will allow researchers to start addressing key challenges in work and health and occupational health. These awards will also harness the skills and expertise to address these challenges. The awards will help researchers successfully bid for further funding from other NIHR research programmes.

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First published: 20 October 2023

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