So what works in getting research used in decision-making?

We all want our work to be useful, and there have been many studies asking policy makers and other stakeholders what the barriers and facilitators are to using research.

But how confident are we that our favourite approaches actually work?  What is the science of using science knowledge? And do we know what works in getting research used in making policy ?  

We have partnered with the Wellcome Trust,  the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the EPPI-Centre at UCL to understand how research evidence can be best used in decision-making.

The study focuses on better development and use of a sound evidence base in government policy, and other decision making. It is intended to develop the evidence base for what we at the What Works Centre for Wellbeing can do to support evidence informed decision making to improve wellbeing.

→ Summary

→Full report

The study identified six types of activity used to support evidence informed decision making and looked at the evidence based that underpins them.  The study team then looked at what other social science research suggests could be promising for supporting evidence informed decision making.

reserach uptake diagram

We are reviewing our plans and theory of change as a result of this study working with the wider What Works Network some of whom are doing trials in this area.  We hope that these insights prove useful more widely and add to the evidence base in the field. 

This project included:

  • a systematic review (a review of reviews) of the field of research use by the EPPI-Centre
  • A scoping review of what the wider social science literature tells us about the mechanisms for the use of research evidence in decision-making by the EPPI-Centre
  • a summary policy report summarising the key findings with discussion and case studies by the Alliance for Useful Evidence
  • a conference to explore what approaches work in enabling the use of research by policy makers, practitioners and members of the public at Wellcome Trust on 12th April 2016

 

What wellbeing means in work and learning

work and learningOur Public Dialogues examined the topic of Work and Learning

In this video, Sharing Work and Learning participants from Falkirk talk about their experiences of the dialogue and what they will take from the process.

 

Wellbeing in Work and Learning means security, interest, achievement and challenge

jobAs members of the public, we think that having a job is better than no job, and we need to be safe at work and meet basic comforts such as heating and access to toilet facilities. The main value of work for many is financial security, stability and feeling safe. At its best work and learning can bring achievement and opportunity.

Our wellbeing in Work and Learning covers:

  • Work and learning offers achievement, satisfaction, appreciation, pride
  • Work and learning can bring a sense of fulfillment, belonging, shared interest and experience
  • We have a complicated relationship with money and make trade offs
  • Transition points need support

Public dialogues bring together members of the public and policy makers to discuss wellbeing and understand what matters to people.We spoke to a range of policy makers on:

  • why it’s important to talk about wellbeing
  • why are we talking about work and learning
  • about the value the centre can have across the UK
  • importance of dialogues with the public

what works

Discover more about our Public Dialogues:

→Findings summary

→Work and Learning full report

→Technical Appendix

Wellbeing in work: how leaders value quality of life and approaches to job design

Do leaders in the workplace value quality of life and how could a different (behavioural and adapative) approach to job design affect wellbeing at work?

How leaders value quality of life sodexo clipwas the focus of a recent study by Sodexo, the on-site services provider .

780 interviews were carried out with leaders of Companies, Universities and Hospitals in six countries . →Detailed results

→Key findings below:

  • Leaders value quality of life and link it to organisational performanceSlide4
  • The driving forces behind this are demands of the ‘end user’; a younger user with shifting needs; and political pressure.Slide6
  • There a number of obstacles; the biggest being the shift from cost to investment.Slide7

The lead of our Work and Learning team,  Professor Kevin DanielsProf Kevin Daniels presented on Job design as part of the ongoing CEP wellbeing seminars at LSE.

Slides: Understanding Wellbeing at Work with an Adaptive and Behavioural Approach to Job Design

He outlined weaknesses in current guidance for minimising and improving wellbeing at work through enhancing the design of people’s jobs  and went on to present an alternative approach focused on how workers interact with and act upon their work environment, and the reasons why they behave in the way that they do.

In particular, Kevin focused on

  • the many ways in which workers use two important aspects of high quality jobs – the latitude to take decisions that affect how workers do their jobs and the support workers receive from colleagues.
  • Kevin outlined a series of studies that investigated whether workers use these two aspects of high quality jobs to help them solve problems at work, express how they feel to co-workers and to take brief impromptu breaks during the working day.
  • The studies demonstrated that workers who do so benefit from enhanced wellbeing and also enhanced learning on-the-job, cognitive performance, relationship quality and creativity.

Kevin concluded that current guidance needs to consider both the redesign of work and also how to train people in using key aspects of work to enhance their wellbeing.

→ Work, Learning and Wellbeing

 

We are recruiting…..

We are currently recruiting for a Project Manager post.2903577 What Works Banner Stand V0_2.indd

→Full details on our Work for us page. 

The appointment will be full time and is available from November 2015 for 1 year from start date with the possibility of an extension. The deadline for receipt of applications is 5pm on Friday, 16th October 2015.  

Please submit your application and cover letter by email info@whatworkswellbeing.org 

Shortlisted candidates will be notified by 23rd October and interviews will be held on Tuesday, 3rd November

Project Manager job and application details

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.

Videos from our launch events 29th October – Part 2 Bristol

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing was announced by our interim Chair Lord Gus O’Donnell on 29th October 2014 at twoKnowleWestMediaCentre events, in London and Bristol. Here are the video of the speakers from the Bristol part of the day with sessions from:

  • Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson
  • Lord Gus O’Donnell Chair of the What Works Centre’s Development Group
  • Ed Humpherson from UK Statistics Authority
  • Liz Zeidler from Happy City Bristol
  • Dr Shona Arora Centre Director of the Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Public Health England Centre
  • Q&A from the audience at Knowle West Media Centre in Bristol

Also published to coincide with the announcement of the What Works for Wellbeing Centre on 29th October was a new dataset from ONS combining the first three years of national personal wellbeing data to enable a more robust local level analysis and the ESRC specifications for the Centre’s evidence programme.

→what can I do?

Today we have also added a new pioneer case study to the site:

Our pioneers are short case studies of real projects, real places, real people and their evaluations.

→ be one of our pioneers

Welcome and Bristol context Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson 

Wellbeing – the new currency of impact Lord Gus O’Donnell

Measuring What Matters Ed Humpherson  

Happy City – What has worked in Bristol? Liz Zeidler 

Wellbeing and local public health Dr Shona Arora

Q&A with the speakers

Online Twitter Q&A for What Works Wellbeing proposals 3rd December

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing’s commissioning partners, the Economic and Social Research Council, are hosting an online twitter chat on 3rd December between 12 and 2pm about the Centre focusing specifically on the evidence programme call for proposals.

Please see the call page for the full specifications, application guidance and FAQs. A short presentation on the application process will also be available beforehand, and an updated FAQs document will be available after the online Q&A event.

Join the forum to meet others working on wellbeing

→ Send questions

→ Join the discussion on 3 December by logging on to Twitter and following #wwwqa.

  • A Twitter account is required to post questions, though the discussion can be viewed without an account
  • Sign up to the virtual networking forum before the event if you want to post a question.  You will be able to view the forum discussion pages without an account.
  • The Q&A will be run via Twitter.  W will also provide fuller answers and a summary of all questions after the event.

Nancy & Karen

Wellbeing evidence around the globe – Lord Gus O’Donnell in Australia

GusWhen I helped to launch, in London and Bristol, the What Works centre on Wellbeing I said we wanted to gather evidence from around the globe. So it is fitting that I have spent the last week on the other side of the world urging people to pass on their experiences and learning on wellbeing. More specifically I have been in Australia meeting senior officials at the Federal and State level, think tanks and private sector representatives to explain the importance of focusing on wellbeing and behaviour change.

At lectures and seminars in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, I  explained  the importance of broad measures of wellbeing and their superiority to activity measures like GDP as indicators of the success of governments and countries. I find that explaining that UK  GDP is now enhanced by increased illegal drug trade and prostitution, while the value of volunteering is not, gets the point across quite vividly! My visit played out against the G20 taking g20logoplace in Brisbane, right in the middle of my Australian visit. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had turned the focus onto climate change to the discomfort of their host Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Nevertheless the G20 was attempting to enhance wellbeing by stimulating infrastructure spending and employment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Australia the government is attempting to eradicate its deficit of 2.5%GDP , rather low compared to the levels in UK and many other European countries. Having got through the financial crisis relatively unscathed there has not been a sense of a burning platform. This, together with some interesting complications thrown up in the last Australian federal election in the influence of minor parties, especially in the Senate or upper house,  has made it harder to make radical changes but it has created a desire to understand how to deliver ‘ better for less’. Hence there was a lot of interest in the measures implemented by the UK government to reduce the deficit from 11%GDP to half that level and particularly the impact on public services and public servants. There was an interesting thread through all of the conversations that tied together the refocusing back on fundamental questions about the value and purpose of government in the first place, which is a necessary part of the broader wellbeing approach, and consequential decisions about the shape and performance of government and the behaviour and skills of public servants in the 21st century.

I emphasised the unusual nature of the UK recovery which was employment strong but accompanied by a stagnation in real wages. The nature of the problems reinforces one key conclusion from a wellbeing approach to macro policy- namely that steady, consistent (and sometimes lower) growth is better than increasingly unsustainable booms and busts. Although there has been some work, and considerably interest, within various departments, including the Australian Treasury over recent years, the concepts and practice of “wellbeing” are still only used rarely in Australia and have yet to establish themselves as a consistent and influential part of the wider political and policy discussion.

Deloitte Social Progress IndexHowever while I was there Deloitte produced a paper on Unlocking true growth,G20: Insights from the Social Progress Index 2014

Their index is an unweighted average of many indicators but includes no measures of subjective wellbeing. Among the G20 their index puts Netherlands at the top but then the Scandinavians, as usual, do very well. Australia ranks above the UK which in turn beats the United States. Although I have questions about aspects of the methodology, it is good to see recognition that “growth on its own without social progress is an empty goal.” The Australians are also beginning to explore behaviour change techniques. Rory Gallagher and Alex Gyani,  as part of the Behavioural Insight team, are based in New South Wales in the Department of Premier and Cabinet and are running a number of projects to demonstrate the merits of the new approaches.

For example they have tested various ways to speed up the payment of taxes and fines, saving the NSW governmentBIT logo millions of dollars. They have found quicker, more effective ways to get people back to work after injuries.  They are investigating how to improve handling of domestic violence and child obesity, both particularly challenging problems in Australia. But probably most important of all, they are running Master classes to train officials in applying behavioural approaches.

I was also fortunate enough to meet Shlomo Benartzi, a highly respected behavioural economist from UCLA. He explained his latest research on digital solutions to key policy problems, which will be published next year.

what works network logoAt each  venue I have described the role of the various What Works centres that are already up and running. And I have explained what we hope will be  provided by the Wellbeing centre in terms of agreeing common methodologies and collecting and sharing examples of what works and what doesn’t. Of course we need to explain that what works in one country or community might not work in another.

At my Sydney University lecture I used the example of various messages attempting to persuade people to sign up asUniofSydney organ donors.  You can hear the podcast of the lecture  (the podcast link is on the right of the linked page).

The Australian audience felt the positive message about saving lives would work best whereas in the UK the reciprocal message- if you would want an organ donation if needed, why not donate yourself- worked best. Nevertheless as we collect evidence of such experiments around the world we may well be able to determine which particular policies work universally. I would like to thank Martin Stewart-Weeks and Deloitte, Cisco and Telstra who supported the visit, for helping me to get across these messages to a wide audience in Australia.

One of the events at which I spoke was the 2014 Spann Oration, given in Sydney for the Institute of Public Administration in NSW.  The Oration, given each year, is in honour of the work of Professor Richard Spann, one of the Australia’s leading public administration academics.  You can find the Oration here, published by The Mandarin, a new online magazine in Australia that concentrates on issues of government reform, the public sector and public policy.

Read a broader summary of some of the main themes and topics from the weeks’ conversations and meetings.

Gus

Videos from our launch events 29th October 2014 – Part 1 London

The What Works Centre for Wellbeing was announced by our interim Chair Lord Gus O’Donnell on 29th October 2014 at two events, in London and Bristol.  Here are the video of the speakers from the London part of the day with sessions from:

  • Lord O’Donnell chair of the centre’s development group
  • BIS Minister Jo Swinson
  • BT’s Group Director Wellbeing Dr Paul Litchfield
  • Professor Kevin Fenton from Pubilc Health England
  • Government’s National What Works Advisor Dr David Halpern
  • Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council Professor Jane Elliot

Also published for the London part of the event on the 29th was BIS research into the drivers of workplace wellbeing and its links with business performance and the ESRC specifications for the Centre’s evidence programme.

What can I do?

Announcement of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing Lord Gus O’Donnell, Chair of development group for the Centre

Employee wellbeing and productivity  Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs

Wellbeing – A company approach  Dr Paul Litchfield, Group Director Wellbeing, BT  

Wellbeing and public health  Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director Health and Wellbeing, Public Health England 

What works centres  Dr David Halpern, What Works National Advisor 

Getting impact from research Prof Jane Elliott, Chief Executive Economic Social Research Council