Experts discuss 'Why work needs to shape up: Redesigning jobs for better employee wellbeing' at 2021 Cambridge Festival

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About six million workers in the UK suffer poor health because of their jobs, from health issues like coronary heart disease and stress to back problems. Current solutions tend to deal with the symptoms rather than the causes. But what if we could change how jobs are designed, so that they reduce ill health and its costs?

To discuss this issue, RAND Europe executive vice president and work and wellbeing expert Christian van Stolk was joined by Prof Chris Warhurst, director of the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, for a live webinar on March 29 as part of the 2021 Cambridge Festival.

The panellists explored how people’s productivity in the workplace is affected by poor health and wellbeing and that ill health from jobs has significant public health costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed job-related health risks for sectors such as front-line health and social workers and has dramatically changed the way people work, including new forms of remote working.

Van Stolk and Warhurst argued that jobs need to be seen as a public health issue, not just as a consequence of the pandemic but more broadly. Policymakers and employers can begin tackling the issue of improving employee wellbeing through increased awareness, inputs from experts and preventative interventions.

Following the presentations, a lively Q&A session addressed topics such as the benefits of at-home working, how presenteeism is measured and the effects of an ‘always-on’ work culture.

The event was moderated by Mike Whitmore, a RAND Europe research leader in health and work wellbeing.

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