Good Work and mental wellbeing: Creating the healthy workplace

Past HR Network Event

18 January 2018

Event resources

View the slides (for HR Network members)


Mental health and work
Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development, IES

Good work and mental wellbeing
Rosemary Exton and Peter Totterdill, Workplace Innovation Limited Europe CLG

This workshop covered such topics as:

  • Raising awareness: How can we diagnose the current workplace climate and assess the factors that contribute to, or undermine, positive workplace health? How to build the business case and win support for change? Which policies should be put in place?

  • Building a momentum for change: Once the right policies are in place, how do we raise awareness of mental health and improve the standard of practice throughout the organisation?

  • Line managers: barrier reef or mental health ambassadors? Training managers in mental health awareness and fostering appropriate behaviours is often necessary but what does good practice look like – and is it sufficient? How can management roles, processes and behaviours be rethought to support positive mental health and high performance simultaneously?

  • Rethinking workplace practices: We know that empowered workers are healthier and perform better – but what does this mean for the redesign of individual jobs, teams and organisational structures?

  • Leading people-centred change: What is the role of leaders in promoting positive mental health at work? How are they persuaded to become visible champions of change? And how does the definition of leadership itself change?


Peter Totterdill, Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Limited Europe CLG. He is visiting professor at Kingston University and Mykolas Romeris University Vilnius.

Rosemary Exton, Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Limited and co-founder of Fresh Thinking Labs

Event details

Mental health problems are a huge issue affecting people and business. Statistics tell us that one in four people will be affected by a mental health problem at some time in their life with the result that almost 16 million days are lost each year, at a cost to employers of between £33 and £42 billion.

These figures only paint part of the picture, and recent research has also shown that employees are likely to give different reasons for taking sick leave because of poor mental health.

While there is undoubtedly a myriad of factors contributing to individual mental health, it is clear that the workplace has huge potential either to promote or to undermine mental wellbeing.

Good work supports mental wellbeing for everyone. The challenge is to define what we mean by ‘good work’ and how we can build workplaces that contribute to psychological wellbeing.

The event was facilitated by Rosemary Exton and Peter Totterdill, leaders of the Good Work & Mental Well-Being Lab, a learning network established in partnership with IES, Mindful Employer and several leading organisations.