Saturday, June 11, 2011

Job Control And Employee Well Being

In the U.S. they call it face management. This is to describe those managers who think that they need to see your face or at least to be in or near your space, so as to ensure that you are doing your work.

Of course, most would consider that style to be too controlling.   However, more subtle variations of this approach still abound, and indeed in some sectors, the variations are not so subtle.

In recent years, many organisations have increasingly introduced employee well being or "wellness"   programmes.   One method can be to focus on the more physical health aspects, providing nutritional advice, offering free gym access or introducing methods to encourage staff to be more conscious of calorie intake etc.

A further approach is to dig a little deeper and looking at the psychology of what is happening in the workplace.   For example, research shows that the employee responds favourably if provided with a greater control over his/her job.

An extensive review of the research literature in this area  points out that there is convincing evidence that job control predicts lower stress related outcomes – both in the psychological sense (e.g. anxiety, burnout) as well as with physical symptoms (e.g. coronary heart disease).

Job satisfaction as an outcome of job control has not been as widely investigated as has well-being. However, evidence has consistently emerged to show that job control predicts job satisfaction.

These are recessionary days, and some may feel that they have less time and resources to consider aspects such as employee job control and well being.  However, in certain respects, it's because times are more difficult that reflecting on this and then creating appropriate programmes could become more important than ever.

For example, here are some considerations:

Management Style

Does our approach suit the changed working environment that we are now living in?


People are already coming into work from an uncertain world.  Are we doing enough to make sure that our communications with employees don't add to their uncertainty but instead are constant and balanced and that people know what's expected of them?.


With pay reductions and other cuts happening regularly across our workforce, are we doing enough to ensure that such outcomes for employees are counter balanced.   For example…..

Do employees have a reasonable work: life balance?

Indeed I was personally involved in research, which looked at why having a work: life balance through flexible working has positive outcomes e.g.  the reduction of absenteeism and staff turnover. That study found that Flexible working is linked with higher levels of well-being.

This link can be explained by the relationship between Flexible working and againjob control.

So with the job control/wellbeing link, it means that Flexible working allows employees to exercise greater control over their working day (e.g. working hours, place of work etc.).

Workplace Atmosphere

Is there a good feeling in the workplace?  As a result of the shock of recession, was it nonetheless a good idea to reduce the social spend or to even cancel the Christmas party?  Do we regularly sample the views of employees via a service like survey monkey?

To conclude,  many of the well-being and job control considerations are common sense ideas and are relatively inexpensive to implement and retain.  Indeed, once we're used to that "recession shock", then what can we re-instigate that used to be there?.

That much of this in the overall sense is inexpensive is especially true when compared with the likely negative outcomes from doing nothing can be i.e. a rise in absenteeism,  higher job turnover, perhaps of vital skills – all connecting to a loss of output.

A key question is then…what do you think?

Thanks to CiarĂ¡n Rowsome / Bloggertone


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