Professor Stephen Wood
Homeworking in the Covid-19 Pandemic
Stephen Wood led a study focused on employee well-being that commenced at the outset of the pandemic. This included employees completing a diary study over a four-week periods, at two periods of 2020, May and September, when the country was in lockdown. The study was in two universities, and involved 753 university employees of all occupations, academics and non-academics.
Well-being amongst university employees fell between May and September 2020, and increased loneliness, an inability to detach from work and escalating job demands accounted for this. The effects of Covid-19 had a direct effect in May but not in September, as the changing rate of deaths was related to weekly well-being in the first period. This effect was greater for older employees. The enforced nature of the homeworking did not seem to be much of a factor, as home schooling, the lack of preparation for the homeworking, or ability only to do exercise had little effect.
A major finding was that the influences on satisfaction with homeworking did not mirror the influences on job satisfaction. Having job discretion and supportive relationships at work are key to homeworkers’ satisfaction with their jobs, just as they normally are. Satisfaction with working at home, however, is more determined by factors that make for dissatisfaction, feeling lonely, not having an adequate working environment and family and non-work obligations interfering with work. People who are not lonely, have a good working environment in the home and have minimal interference when working at home are likely to be highly satisfied with homeworking.
Seventy-six per cent of people in fact said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with working at home at the beginning of the study, rising to 81% in Autumn 2020. The average job satisfaction level was identical in both periods but homeworking satisfaction increased slightly as people learnt how to manage it and perhaps made adjustments to their work space, internet provision or work schedules.
The research helps to explain the heightened desire amongst professional workers to work at home. The positive experience of homeworking that many workers had in the lockdown fuelled an appetite in particular for hybrid working, whereby people work some of the week at home and some onsite. Hybrid working is a way of reducing the effects of potential downsides of homeworking, loneliness, family–work interference and not being readily able to do certain tasks.
S. Wood, G. Michaelides, A. Kelleher, I. Inceoglu, K. Daniels, K. Niven, and E. Hurren, Satisfaction with one’s job and working at home in the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Two-wave study, Applied Psychology: An International Review, 2022, Vol. 72, No. 4, 1409–1429 (– n-dash not hyphen)
S. Wood, G. Michaelides, I. Inceoglu, E. Hurren, K. Daniels, and K. Niven, Homeworking in the Covid-19 Pandemic: a diary study, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2021, Vol 18, Issue 14, 7575.
S. Wood, Job Demands in Universities in the Pandemic: A Longitudinal Study, Industrial Relations Journal, 2022, Vol. 53, pp. 336–367.
S. Wood, G. Michaelides, K. Daniels and K. Niven, Uncertainty and well-being in the Pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Special Issue, COVID-19 in the Workplace: Observations, Research, and Lessons Learned, 2022, Vol. 19, 10435.
Dr John Barratt
Turnover in the UK adult social care sector
The UK adult social care sector is growing constantly and finds itself under continuous scrutiny and evaluation regarding the conduct and effectiveness of its workers. This creates a dual challenge to organisations and recruiters to continue to provide an effective and efficient service whilst ensuring high care standards. The challenge is accentuated by the high turnover the sector currently experiences. There is a lack of robust recommendations pertaining to recruitment and selection practices, and a lack of identification of the drivers of turnover in adult social care workers. It is this domain that the research looked to address. This research sought to:
- Establish criteria for effective performance of care workers in adult social care
- Identify the individual level antecedents of effective performance
- Identify the conditions under which antecedents are enhanced or inhibited in achieving effective performance
- Develop a strategy for the recruitment and selection of effective care workers
- Identify the drivers of retention and attrition in the adult social care sector
The work consisted of three research studies, with the first two informing the third. The first consisted of interviews with present and past care workers to ascertain drivers of satisfaction and retention versus dissatisfaction and turnover. The second developed and validated a performance effectiveness measure to assess care worker performance. The third consisted of a longitudinal study of care worker effectiveness.
The findings of the main research study revealed:
- There is no one set of variables that lead to all care worker effectiveness areas.
- Recruitment and selection recommendations divide into three models: performance, job satisfaction and turnover intention, and actual turnover.
- Personality has an important role to play in care worker effectiveness.
- Organisational practices are influential in care worker practices.
Dr David Bartram
From cross-sectional multi-level modelling to longitudinal analysis of country-level variables
(funded by the British Academy, PI: David Bartram, Co-I: Patrick White)
One of my current projects applies quantile analysis to the investigation of well-being. Most quantitative researchers using e.g. regression models produce results that tell us about the effects of some variable on average, i.e., for people who generally have average values of the dependent variable. Quantile analysis can produce results telling us about effects at different locations of the dependent variable. For example: we know about the impact of unemployment on happiness/life-satisfaction for an average person – but perhaps the impact is different for people who are already unhappy. That’s what a quantile analysis can give us: the happiness loss associated with unemployment for already unhappy people is larger, relative to the loss experienced by an average person (while for very happy people it appears that unemployment has no impact at all on happiness).
That finding already exists – but quantile methods have moved on in recent years, to facilitate use of panel data in particular. Using those newer approaches, what I see is that the happiness loss of unemployment for already unhappy people is enormous. The existing finding also pertains to the UK – and my goal is to explore other countries. A reason to do that is that I suspect the effect is bigger in the UK, relative to the effect in countries that have a more comprehensive/generous welfare state. In other words, losing one’s job doesn’t have to be so painful – an important lesson for the UK itself. I also intend to explore other factors that affect happiness/life-satisfaction, raising the same questions.
Professor Sara Connolly
Work, Well-being and Productivity
This research, which has been funded by the ESRC since 2015, explores the factors that influence health and well-being for people in work. It looks at the implementation of well-being interventions and their impact on productivity, and estimates their cost effectiveness in terms of well-being.
We identify five key principles for the promotion of well-being in the workplace: awareness and promotion; help for those who struggle; fostering good relationships; high quality jobs and workplace fairness; and good management. Drawing on insights from longitudinal case studies of the implementation of health and well-being policies, with a focus on leadership and organisational practice, and analysis of data from Britain’s Healthiest Workplace, the team has developed an online toolkit providing a user-friendly guide to well-being initiatives. It highlights what makes interventions effective, and includes a business case calculator
Extensive engagement with research users in the private and public sectors, funded as part of the PrOPEL hub, has led to significant take-up. Research, and engagement and impact continue to be ongoing with new initiatives in development on financial literacy and its contribution to well-being, and the responsibilities of governments and financial services.
Recent related publications include:
Bryan, M., Connolly, S., Gedikli, C., Longhi, S. and Nandi, A., 2023, ‘Life satisfaction and unemployment – The role of gender attitudes and work identity’, Scottish Journal of Political Economy
Cook, R., Jones, L. and Connolly, S., 2023, ‘Parenthood and job quality: is there a motherhood penalty in the UK?’, Social Indicators Research
Fitzhugh, H., Michaelides, G., Daniels, K., Connolly, S., and Nasamu, E., 2023, ‘A randomized control trial of two mindfulness resources with cost effectiveness analysis’, Review of Public Personnel Administration
Gedikli, C, Miraglia, M, Connolly, S, Bryan, M & Watson, D, 2022, 'The relationship between unemployment and wellbeing: An updated meta-analysis of longitudinal evidence', European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2022.2106855
Daniels, K., Connolly, S., Woodard, R., van Stolk, C., Patey, J., Fong, K., France, R., Vigurs, C., and Herd, M., 2022, NHS staff wellbeing: why investing in organisational and management practices makes business sense. A rapid evidence review and economic analysis. London: EPPI Centre, UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
Professor Sarah Park
Health Risks Related to COVID-19, Psychological Distress and Perceived Productivity
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of billions around the globe. Yet, our understanding of its impact on psychological distress and work productivity remains limited. Using data from two waves of the Understanding Society COVID-19 study, a representative British survey of reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, we find that the productivity of working individuals is negatively affected by the health risk related to COVID-19 via psychological distress. The negative relationship between psychological distress and productivity is stronger for self-employed individuals compared to those who are in paid employment. Further, we found that the moderating effect of self-employment status on the relationship between psychological distress and productivity is stronger for women than men. Our results also show that there is evidence for a significant three-way interaction between psychological distress, self-employment status and ethnicity. Contrary to our expectations, this interaction is such that self-employed individuals from a Black background experience increased, and not decreased productivity.
Professor Ana Cristina Costa
Longitudinal assessment of fairness reactions to digital technologies applied in promotion contexts
(BA/Leverhulme ECR In collaboration with University of Surrey)
The impact of technology on employee selection and promotion has been significant with the appearance of new technology-based methods or the digital adaptation of existing methods over the past decade, and in particular during the CIVID-19 pandemic.
As many organizations are adopting such digital procedures without considering the reactions of applicants, they are not aware of the potential negative consequences to their image as an employer, when applicants have a negative experience during selection and promotion contexts. There are many platforms where applicants provide their online reviews about the organisations and their selection or promotion practices, such as Glassdoor or Indeed. Applicants’ posts can significantly enhance or damage the organisational image and reputation as an employer, thus, for organisations it is crucial to understand the applicant perceptions and reactions to their selection / promotion procedures, especially when they implement new DSPs.
The work consisted of a longitudinal study survey study in public sector Higher Education Institution Data was collected at three points of time over a period of 18 months:
- Time 1 - pre-promotion allocation phase, applicants were surveyed immediately after applying for the promotion, i.e., prior to any decision on their promotion application. This survey was designed to assess their perceptions of procedural justice, turnover intentions, LMX, job satisfaction, and well-being. In addition, job performance ratings for each applicant will be collected from the organization.
- Time 2 - post-promotion allocation phase - when the promotional decision outcomes were announced and formal feedback was provided to all applicants. The survey included the same variables in addition to distributive justice.
- Time 3 - the long-term post-promotion allocation phase –took place one –one and half year after Time 1, and job performance rating and actual turnover will be collected from the organization. Quantitative data analysis is currently being used to assess applicant perceptions and reactions with a particular interest the longitudinal effect of fairness perceptions on the outcomes. In addition, anecdotal qualitative data his being collected from a sample of the respondents.
Applicant reactions research is mostly grounded in organisational justice theory and this project studies the perspective of internal applicants, i.e. employees, in terms of justice perceptions and reactions to these digital methods. Internal applicants are important to applicant reactions research, as they provide further evidence of how promotion methods can greatly impact future job performance, psychological wellbeing, as well as other work attitudes and behaviours, as the stakes are sometimes much higher for internal applicants (especially the rejected ones) and the organization. Internal applicants either promoted or not, tend to remain in the organisation at least for the immediate future. Therefore, how fair they experience promotion procedures will impact their attitudes and behaviours while on the job and subsequent working relationships with closed team members, influencing thus the team climate and leader-members relations.
McCarthy, J, Bauer, T, Truxillo, D, Anderson, N R, Costa, A C, & Ahmed, S (2017). Applicant perspectives in Selection. Journal of Management, 43: 1693-1725. (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0149206316681846)
Woods, S, Ahmed, S, Nikolau, I, Costa AC, Anderson, N (2020). Personnel Selection in the Digital Age: A Review of Validity and Applicant Reactions, and Future Research Challenges. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 29:1, 64-77, DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2019.1681401
Costa, AC, Ahmed, S, & Anderson, NR (submitted) Fairness Reactions to Digital Technologies in Selection: Influences of Applicant Privacy Concerns, Openness to Experience and Justice Perceptions, New Technology Employment and Society.
Professor Maria Karanika-Murray
Current research projects
- Development and validation of a measure to assess sickness presenteeism
- Horizon scan for well-being and digital technologies
- Developing a well-being strategy for a voluntary organisation
- Organisational maturity for change
The relationship between age and performance
Despite suggestions that work performance varies with age, the empirical evidence is inconclusive and contradictory. Possible reasons for this are the lack of differentiation between different types of performance and a naïve assumption of a negative linear relationship between age and task performance across the working lifespan. With this study we question and revisit these expectations. We take a lifespan perspective to explore differential and curvilinear relationships between age (measured as chronological age) and three types of task performance (task proficiency, proactivity, and adaptivity), moderated by job complexity (measured as cognitive demands). Using Bayesian polynomial regression on survey data from 903 employees, we tested the relationships between age and each performance type, with job complexity as a moderator. The data indicated a U-shaped age-adaptivity relationship (main effects for job complexity) and an S-shaped age-proactivity relationship that was more pronounced under low job complexity (interaction effect). We identify the turning points for these changes, which show midlife as a critical period for changes in performance where the job context itself shapes the gradient and direction of these changes. Our findings provide crucial evidence that different types of job performance vary by age and the role of perceived job complexity in explaining trajectories in proactivity and adaptivity. Implications for job design, organizational interventions, and human resource management are discussed.
Karanika-Murray, M., Van Veldhoven, M., Michaelides, G., Baguley, T., Gkiontsi, D., & Harrison, N. (2022). Curvilinear relationships between age and job performance and the role of job complexity. Work, Aging & Retirement. DOI: https://academic.oup.com/workar/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/workar/waac006/6649561
Dr Gemma Hughes
Current research projects
Remote by Default 2 – the New Normal? Care navigation work package – how patients are supported to access remote primary care, funded by NIHR Health and Social Care Delivery Research: social care extension.
Witnessing harm, holding to account: Patient, family and colleague experiences following harm, when directly involved in health and care regulator Fitness to Practise proceedings in connection with a registered professional’s behaviour, funded by NIHR Health Services Research & Delivery 2021-2024.
Virtual Presence, a cultural analysis of loneliness and technology collaboration with University of Oslo and Oslo Metropolitan University, funded by the Research Council of Norway 2020-2023.
Hughes, G., Moore, L., Maniatopoulos, G., Wherton, J., Wood, G.W., Greenhalgh T., Shaw S. (2022) Theorising the shift to video consulting during the COVID-19 pandemic: analysis of a mixed methods study using practice theory Social Science and Medicine 311, 115368. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36152402/
Hughes, G., Shaw, S., & Greenhalgh, T. (2022) Why doesn’t integrated care work? Using Strong Structuration Theory to explain the limitations of an English case Sociology of Health & Illness. 4400:1-17. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-9566.13398
Professor Charlotte Edwardson
A three arm cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the SMART Work & Life intervention for reducing daily sitting time in office workers.
This was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
To evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention, with and without a height adjustable desk, on daily sitting time, and to investigate the relative effectiveness of the two interventions, and the effectiveness of both interventions on physical behaviours and physical, biochemical, psychological, and work related health and performance outcomes.
Cluster three arm randomised controlled trial with follow-up at three and 12 months.
Local government councils in Leicester, Liverpool, and Greater Manchester, UK.
78 clusters including 756 desk based employees in defined offices, departments, or teams from two councils in Leicester, three in Greater Manchester, and one in Liverpool.
Clusters were randomised to one of three conditions: the SMART Work and Life (SWAL) intervention, the SWAL intervention with a height adjustable desk (SWAL plus desk), or control (usual practice).
Main outcomes measures:
The primary outcome measure was daily sitting time, assessed by accelerometry, at 12 month follow-up. Secondary outcomes were accelerometer assessed sitting, prolonged sitting, standing and stepping time, and physical activity calculated over any valid day, work hours, workdays, and non-workdays, self-reported lifestyle behaviours, musculoskeletal problems, cardiometabolic health markers, work related health and performance, fatigue, and psychological measures.
Mean age of participants was 44.7 years, 72.4% (n=547) were women, and 74.9% (n=566) were white. Daily sitting time at 12 months was significantly lower in the intervention groups (SWAL -22.2 min/day, 95% confidence interval -38.8 to -5.7 min/day, P=0.003; SWAL plus desk -63.7 min/day, -80.1 to -47.4 min/day, P<0.001) compared with the control group. The SWAL plus desk intervention was found to be more effective than SWAL at changing sitting time (-41.7 min/day, -56.3 to -27.0 min/day, P<0.001). Favourable differences in sitting and prolonged sitting time at three and 12 month follow-ups for both intervention groups and for standing time for the SWAL plus desk group were observed during work hours and on workdays. Both intervention groups were associated with small improvements in stress, wellbeing, and vigour, and the SWAL plus desk group was associated with improvements in pain in the lower extremity, social norms for sitting and standing at work, and support.
Both SWAL and SWAL plus desk were associated with a reduction in sitting time, although the addition of a height adjustable desk was found to be threefold more effective.
Edwardson CL, Biddle SJH, Clemes SA, Davies MJ, Dunstan DW, Eborall H, Granat MH, Gray LJ, Healy GN, Jaicim NB, Lawton S, Maylor BD, Munir F, Richardson G, Yates T, Clarke-Cornwell AM. Effectiveness of an intervention for reducing sitting time and improving health in office workers: three arm cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2022 Aug 17;378:e069288.
Cox, E.; Walker, S.; Edwardson, C.L.; Biddle, S.J.H.; Clarke-Cornwell, A.M.; Clemes, S.A.; Davies, M.J.; Dunstan, D.W.; Eborall, H.; Granat, M.H.; Gray, L.J.; Healy, G.N.; Maylor, B.D.; Munir, F.; Yates, T.; Richardson, G. The Cost-Effectiveness of the SMART Work & Life Intervention for Reducing Sitting Time. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 14861.
Edwardson CL, Yates T, Biddle SJH, Davies MJ, Dunstan DW, Esliger DW, Gray LJ, Jackson B, O'Connell SE, Waheed G, Munir F. Effectiveness of the Stand More AT (SMArT) Work intervention: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2018 Oct 10;363:k3870.
Munir, F.; Miller, P.; Biddle, S.J.H.; Davies, M.J.; Dunstan, D.W.; Esliger, D.W.; Gray, L.J.; O’Connell, S.E.; Waheed, G.; Yates, T.; Edwardson, C.L. A Cost and Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Stand More AT Work (SMArT Work) Intervention. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1214.