Reflections from the 4th International Well being at work conference 2016

wellbeingatwork

So…This week I have been visiting the wonderful city of Amsterdam to attend and speak at the 4th International Wellbeing at Work conference hosted by VU UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER AND TNO.

This conference was great for networking, meeting people of like mind and learning about new research in the field of wellbeing at work. As I continue to carry out my own research into the psychological wellbeing of the midwifery workforce, I was happy to see other research work that will no doubt steer my own future work.

I was humbled to meet Christina Maslach who has done so much work in the field of burnout in healthcare and other staff around the world. The development of the Maslach burnout inventory (MBI) has been instrumental to the understanding of burnout in all types of professions. As such, I was very excited to share a quiet glass of chilled white wine and discuss further research in this field. There is so much to learn from you Christina!

The MBI Surveys address three general scales:

  • Emotional Exhaustion measures feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work
  • Depersonalization measures an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment, or instruction
  • Personal Accomplishment measures feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work.

Christina Maslach is also now the editor of the newly found journal of burnout research. I hope to submit a paper to this journal in the not too distant future!

Having always had a keen interest in leadership, I was delighted to hear researchers from the university of Lausanne outline the key role that leadership has to play in the development of healthy workplaces. When we focus on the development of managers and leaders in the workplace, we essentially set the tone of the wider organisational cultures and behaviours. They lead the way and essentially show ‘How we do things here’!

wellbeing at work in leadrship

Equally, we must understand that health and well being at work and job satisfaction is more than a fruit basket! As we heard from ,  it became clear that interventions such as free exercise and health checks are insufficient in the development of a healthy workplace. They do no harm, yet we must look at new ways to promote healthy work cultures which set the tone of good workplace well being. I found this presentation very useful, and I will be reflecting upon the ways in which the findings of this particular work can be extrapolated to the #NHS workplace.

Also Lars L. Andersen is a really great guy 🙂

@LarsLAndersen

Although I found many of the presentations enthralling (and I cannot possibly list them all!) – I was particularly interested to hear researchers from  speak about mitigating employee silence. Through my own research I am quickly finding that health care workers can be reluctant to speak up about poor care, ill health and episodes of ‘impairment’. Occupational health and safety leading indicators are key to enable organisations to thrive.

The Top 3 Leading Indicators Organizations Should Adopt

Tracking and recording leading indicators is most useful to management when it tells the whole story of processes from start (or sometimes preparations to start) to finish. This makes it easier to gauge employees’ commitment to workplace safety and where to start from a training and communication perspective. Below is a short list of priority indicators to track.

  1. The more observations that employees and managers report, the more robust the data. One to two observations per employee on a weekly basis is excellent. This should not be considered a “tattle-tale” exercise, but a way to offer suggestions for improvement, recognition of underlying issues and maintenance needs as well as near misses.
  2. Employee engagement is critical for number 1 to work correctly. If all levels of the organization are paying attention to these things and talking about safety, a true safety culture will permeate throughout the organization. Best in class companies aim for 80 percent participation. This can ensure that many different aspects of your company’s processes are being evaluated and reported on.
  3. How long does it take the organization to act on observed deficiencies? Most corrections will be achievable very quickly. However, having more than 20 percent of these issues taking more than 48 hours to correct can mean that your company and management staff is not very effective at managing risk, which is a leading indicator in itself.

(Todd Hohn, Workplace magazine)

Mitigating employee silence

The mediation model of burnout provides a way of linking the quality of a nurse’s worklife to various outcomes, such as turnover. This will definitely be an interesting model to explore in my own future research where I look to find new ways to support midwives in work-related psychological distress.

Although there were a number of presentations which focused upon supporting the well being of health care professionals at work, none addressed the needs of midwives as a specific population to focus upon. This reinforces my own belief that in researching the support needs of midwives and the development of interventions to support them is still widely under researched. I hope I can conquer this niche area of very important research work to be done.

This particular presentation reflecting upon a meta-analysis of resources that contribute to the resilience of nurses was indeed fascinating. As I am currently working on a systematic literature review to explore the efficacy and existence of interventions to support midwives in work-related psychological distress, I hope my own work can complement new and emerging discoveries in this area.

resilience in nurses

My own presentation was very warmly received by an audience passionate about psychological well being of staff. I thank you all for your insights and questions in relation to my current work, I hope you enjoyed the healthy discussions and debates had by all.
wellbeing at work conference
The conference itself was buzzing with passion and enthusiasm from it’s delegates, and the hosts certainly took care of us with hydration, fresh and healthy food…massages during the breaks! (A first for me)… Strange characters invited delegates to the screening of a new health motivated movie (Some kind of space girl and a huge Postman Pat type character no less!
massages
…Also.. a health cafe was available for delegates to check  their blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and BMI to make personalised and informed life changes to improve overall health. If only all conferences were so innovative!
Lastly, I wanted to reflect on how beautiful Amsterdam is at this time of year! The sunshine, flowers and beauty of this buzzing city really shone this week. The people of Amsterdam are also very welcoming and warm…Thank you for a wonderful and enlightening experience!
Amsterdam
I hope to see you all at the 5th Well being at work conference in 2018, France.
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