Resource round up and Centre update

During the election period we’re not publishing any new evidence, but we’ll still have a great line up of blogs, case studies and some useful resources to make sure you get your wellbeing evidence into practice  fix.

Workplace wellbeing
If you haven’t already downloaded it and posted it up on your office noticeboard (or whatever hi-tech equivalent you’re using), here’s our handy one-page factsheet on the latest evidence for wellbeing benefits at work.

And once that’s whetted your appetite, you can dip into our briefings on learning in the workplace and designing a good quality job.

Resilience in hospices and mental health in the media
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and we’re sharing two case studies that link with this year’s theme of surviving and thriving. Hospice UK give us an insight into a programme to improve staff wellbeing in an emotionally demanding environment. Meanwhile, Mind’s peer education for professionals is a look an an ambitious project that successfully challenged mental health stigma by training journalists.

Share your evaluations
We’ve currently got two calls for evidence live:

We will be putting out more calls throughout the year, and you can follow us on Twitter @whatworksWB for updates when these come out.

Other resources
You can find all of our evidence, research and guidance on the following themes:

Up next
After 8 June, here’s just a taster of what you can expect:

  • new evidence reviews on dance and sport and adult learning
  • guidance for community organisations on measuring personal wellbeing
  • a one-stop set of wellbeing indicators for local authorities
  • a round up of the evidence on green space and wellbeing
  • a discussion paper on community wellbeing.





A Mindful Nation and mindfulness in the workplace

The Mindful Nation UK report was launched in Parliament on 20th October as the result of a MindfulnationUK12-month inquiry by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group into how mindfulness might be incorporated into UK services and institutions

The workplace has been one of the four policy areas examined by the inquiry that has particularly led to debate. The report makes a specific recommendation to the What Works Centre for Wellbeing in this area.

pro-picOur Director, Nancy Hey spoke at the Mindfulness in the workplace event last night to celebrate the launch of the report and look at next steps. The report looks at how we can ensure mindfulness fulfills its potential to help create a more healthy, productive and creative 21st century working culture across the UK.

Why does this matter?

There is good evidence to support mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapy.  Being mindful is part of taking notice, one of the 5 ways to wellbeing.  We know that, in general, our personal wellbeing dips, probably naturally from age 20, down to a low in the mid to late 40s and then back up to 60 and mostly continues upwards.

How can we cushion the impact of the wellbeing dip?

We know quite a few protective factors including good mental and physical health, good work, and social relationships.  Early analysis, as part of the ESRC wellbeing counts project, suggests that this age span is the time where ‘take notice’ also dips, particularly in the UK.  As this is the part of our lives where we  spend much of our time engaged in work, this suggests that mindfulness in the workplace could have a significant positive impact on our wellbeing.

I welcome the call in the Mindful Nation report to continue exploring the potential of mindfulness in an evidence based way.  To support employers in their investment decisions, there is a need to understand, in more nuanced ways, about what, how and when and for whom mindfulness practice at work can make a difference to both our wellbeing and our work.

This means evaluation – moving towards large scale trials with controls – of

  • Who its useful for and when, including monitoring over time
  • How – duration and format of training? combined with values or physical awareness? can train the trainer approaches work?
  • When – what is useful before and after e.g. do some people need physical approach first? better when combined into management training or volunteers only?
  • How often – Can it be delivered in ways to fit into the workplace and still be effective?
  • What is core and what can be adapted to context?
  • What impact does it have on other things e.g. staff wellbeing, performance or customer satisfaction?

Whilst the shift in attention to internal changes is welcome, this and similar approaches, can not be a sticking plaster for other issues that need attention. This means comparing mindfulness interventions with other things organisations can invest in for both impact and cost. Our early guide to evaluating wellbeing impact, alongside other outcomes, is here.

Want to partner or fund trials? email

Expert Teams and Board Members appointed for What Works Centre for Wellbeing

The Wha8-2754esrc-logot Works Centre for Wellbein2903577 What Works Banner Stand V0_2.inddg, together with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have announced the successful bids for four research programmes to understand what really works to improve the wellbeing of people in the UK.

Over the next three years, the What Works Centre for Wellbeing will enable policy-makers, local authorities,  employers and others to use evidence of wellbeing impact in decision making and to improve people’s lives, by translating academic evaluation of wellbeing measures into easy-to-use information about effectiveness, cost and applicability.

The successful consortia are led by world-renowned academics

Professor Richard LayardProfessor Kevin DanielsProfessor Peter KindermanProfessor Christina Victor




Overall, the research spans twelve universities, five civil society groups, and reaches internationally through the OECD. More detailed information on the teams and the work of the evidence programmes is here

The Centre and evidence programmes have been funded by a number of partner organisations.

 Cross-Cutting Capabilities

Professor Lord Richard Layard, LSE, leads the Cross-Cutting Capabilities programme, working in collaboration with

  • London School of Economics
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Institute for Education

They are partnering with

  • Action for Happiness
  • University of Oxford
  • How to Thrive

The team will assess and develop methods of understanding how policy and practice affect wellbeing. They will look at the effect of different factors on wellbeing, analyse the impact of wellbeing on other outcomes and develop a framework for cost-effectiveness analysis with wellbeing as the measure of benefit.  They will also conduct life course analysis, looking at the how important early life is to wellbeing in later years.

Work, Learning and Wellbeing

Professor Kevin Daniels, UEA, leads the Work, Learning and Wellbeing evidence programme, a collaboration between

  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Essex

The evidence programme is focused on protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of workers, adult learners and those seeking work.

Bringing Wellbeing to Community

Prof Peter Kinderman, University of Liverpool, leads the Community Wellbeing evidence programme. His team is a collaboration of five universities including

  • Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool
  • Sheffield University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Durham University

They are joined by five civil society organisations including

  • New Economics Foundation
  • Locality
  • Happy City
  • Centre for Local Economic Strategies
  • Social Life Ltd

The evidence programme will focus on how community wellbeing is affected by issues such as local social networks, having a say over what happens in our community, and local living conditions.

Culture, Sport and Wellbeing

Professor Christina Victor, Brunel University London, leads the Culture, Sport and Wellbeing evidence programme, a collaboration between

  • Brunel University London
  • University of Brighton
  • London School of Economics
  • University of Winchester

They will look at the wellbeing benefits of participation in different culture and sport practices for people in a wide range of circumstances.

Board appointments

PaulLitchfieldThe Centre has recently appointed its first Board of non-executive Directors. The Chair, Dr Litchfield, is joined by:

Gregor Henderson (National Lead for Wellbeing and Mental Health at Public Health England), and Phil Sooben (Director of Policy, Resources and Communications, ESRC) will join the board for an initial period as the Centre’s major partners in delivery.

Further recruitment for board members, including specifically from areas of local government and academia are still to come. Follow this website for the latest opportunities.