Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Human Resource Management

Abstract

AIMS
This research will adopt an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach to exploring how workplace and job design practices shape employees' wellbeing and involvement in innovation, and how insights on these issues can help address the UK's 'productivity puzzle'.
The proposed research aims to explore relationships between (a) factors shaping management support for workplace practices that contribute to an innovative work climate, (b) workplace practices and job design features (job demands and resources) that enable or constrain employee innovation, (c) employees' work engagement, and (d) employee wellbeing, innovative work behaviours and employee-driven innovation outcomes that enhance productivity.
The research brings together a UK team with expertise on how workplace innovation practices support innovative work behaviours (Findlay, Lindsay, McQuarrie, Dutton, Burns, Roy) with world leading experts on Job Demands-Resources (JDR) theory and work engagement (Bakker, Demerouti). The research will be innovative in synthesising and integrating elements of these previously distinct research agendas, harnessing insights from a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in organisational psychology, occupational medicine, employment relations, organisational studies and labour economics to make an innovative conceptual contribution, develop and validate new research instruments, and deliver impactful research outputs.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. Which factors influence strategic choice and management support for workplace practices that contribute to an innovative work climate?
2. What is the relationship between workplace practices, innovative work climate and job demands and resources, and levels of work engagement among employees?
3. What is the relationship between these factors and employee wellbeing, innovative work behaviours and employee-driven innovation?
4. What is the relationship between these outcomes and firm performance and productivity?
5. What is the scope for any firm-level productivity benefits from improved workplace practice, innovative work climates and work engagement to impact sectoral and national productivity?
METHODS, ANALYSIS AND OUTPUTS
The research will involve the development, validation and deployment of innovative, bespoke survey and case study tools to capture relationships between workplace practices and JDR, work engagement and employee outcomes including individual wellbeing, innovative work behaviours and employee-driven innovation, all potentially important contributors to transforming productivity. These survey and case study tools will facilitate in-depth research in 24 organisations across a range of sectors. Qualitative and quantitative data analyses will produce new insights on decision making, workplace and job design practice and innovation and wellbeing outcomes. We will enhance the impact of the research by conducting solutions-focused dissemination and engagement with all case study organisations and by delivering specific, in-depth interventions in four organisations, sharing lessons from these exercises and making a practical difference to workplace and job design practices that foster innovation. A further innovation will draw on the team's economic modelling expertise to model potential short-run and long-run effects on the UK economy of innovation performance and productivity gains flowing from workplace innovation. Outputs will include a final report, at least 10 articles targeting journals across the disciplines and a multi-disciplinary journal special issue. Impact will be enhanced though a practice-focused publication that will summarise key lessons and substantial online content and 5 'Masterclass' KE events targeted at business leaders, policy and sectoral stakeholders. The Research Advisory Group, already in place (see Letters of Support), and taking in senior stakeholders from the business, trade union and policy communities will help to maximise the impact of KE.

Planned Impact

Knowledge exchange and research impact - through research for and with business and employees to deliver workplace change that drives economic and social change - are designed into this proposal which builds upon the research teams' long-standing commitment to high quality, collaborative, user-engaged research.
This research will have academic impact through delivering a new holistic conceptual framework on how management practices can generate work engagement that supports innovative work behaviours, employee wellbeing and improved productivity. This will produce a minimum of 10 academic papers based around the aims and research questions. Its multi-disciplinary nature will facilitate publication in high ranked international journals in psychology, economics, work sociology, business studies and innovation.
Practical research impact will be ensured as robust evidence on the efficacy of particular management practices - on innovation, performance and employee wellbeing - is used to support better adoption of these practices and is incorporated into business support services. Robust evidence effectively communicated and supported can act as a catalyst to better practice adoption, inform policy narratives and influence the design of policy levers to support better management practice. Potential research beneficiaries include businesses and their employees; organisations with an interest in workplace performance and work engagement (employers' organisations and sectoral/industry bodies); business support organisations including public agencies; trade unions; government at all levels and relevant policy communities.
This research has been developed with relevant stakeholders, and will be designed, implemented and analysed with them in real time, primarily through close partnership working with a high-level stakeholder Research Advisory Group (RAG) comprising senior representatives from government, public agencies, business organisations and a trade union confederation. The RAG will represent the needs/interests of different constituencies; deploy distinct expertise to benefit the research; articulate key influences arising from firm, sectoral, labour market and geographical context; and use the research within their own organisations and services to drive improvements in business practice.
The research will involve direct intensive engagement with managers and employees in 24 case study businesses of varying sizes across 4 industrial sectors distinguished by sectoral productivity levels, crucially giving voice to lower level management and non-managerial employees who are largely absent from discussions of productivity. Qualitative and quantitative data will be generated through interviews and a bespoke online survey, while direct business impact will be supported through focus group analysis of findings in context, identifying potential for practice change and trialling of supportive interventions co-created with key partners.
The research design focusses on leveraging case findings to influence and impact on a wider business base, not simply through dissemination and engagement but also through 'research to practice' events and activities organised and delivered with key external partners such as employers' organisations, public agencies, policymakers and trade unions.

Two key elements in maximising impact are first, working with the RAG members and research team's wider network to promulgate and support improved business practices in sectoral and geographical context; and second, working with providers of business support services to influence their suite of interventions and support and advise their business facing staff and supplier network.
Academic and practitioner engagement and impact will also be delivered through ongoing and constructive involvement and learning/practice sharing with other researchers and stakeholders through the ESRC hub.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Embedding engaging work practices, flexible management processes and systemic capacity for the effective implementation of strategy and innovation initiatives
Amount £195,000 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 01/2023
 
Description Supporting innovative work behaviours to drive DEAS innovation in Fintech
Amount £15,800 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/R044937/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 07/2021
 
Description Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning - the PrOPEL Hub 
Organisation Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The 'Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing' research investigators also lead the PrOPEL Hub, a co-created partnership across 7 UK research institutions and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, funded by UKRI/ESRC, aimed at transforming productivity in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The research partners are engaged in externally facing knowledge exchange with businesses, other workplace stakeholders and policymakers to harness the research insight of the constituent research teams to create research synergies and reach in supporting businesses to transform producitivity.
Impact See propelhub.org for all outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning - the PrOPEL Hub 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Department Birmingham Business School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The 'Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing' research investigators also lead the PrOPEL Hub, a co-created partnership across 7 UK research institutions and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, funded by UKRI/ESRC, aimed at transforming productivity in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The research partners are engaged in externally facing knowledge exchange with businesses, other workplace stakeholders and policymakers to harness the research insight of the constituent research teams to create research synergies and reach in supporting businesses to transform producitivity.
Impact See propelhub.org for all outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning - the PrOPEL Hub 
Organisation University of East Anglia
Department Norwich Business School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The 'Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing' research investigators also lead the PrOPEL Hub, a co-created partnership across 7 UK research institutions and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, funded by UKRI/ESRC, aimed at transforming productivity in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The research partners are engaged in externally facing knowledge exchange with businesses, other workplace stakeholders and policymakers to harness the research insight of the constituent research teams to create research synergies and reach in supporting businesses to transform producitivity.
Impact See propelhub.org for all outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning - the PrOPEL Hub 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department Business School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The 'Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing' research investigators also lead the PrOPEL Hub, a co-created partnership across 7 UK research institutions and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, funded by UKRI/ESRC, aimed at transforming productivity in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The research partners are engaged in externally facing knowledge exchange with businesses, other workplace stakeholders and policymakers to harness the research insight of the constituent research teams to create research synergies and reach in supporting businesses to transform producitivity.
Impact See propelhub.org for all outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning - the PrOPEL Hub 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Department School of Management
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The 'Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing' research investigators also lead the PrOPEL Hub, a co-created partnership across 7 UK research institutions and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, funded by UKRI/ESRC, aimed at transforming productivity in the UK.
Collaborator Contribution The research partners are engaged in externally facing knowledge exchange with businesses, other workplace stakeholders and policymakers to harness the research insight of the constituent research teams to create research synergies and reach in supporting businesses to transform producitivity.
Impact See propelhub.org for all outputs.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Blog: fair work and workplace practice in the current crisis 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The podcast looks at the role of fair work and related management practices in the context of the current pandemic. It explores the role of management practices aimed at delivering high quality work as an asset to businesses and other employers in responding to the need for rapid change to responded to pandemic-related business challenges. It also considers the implications for workplace innovation, both in responding to the pandemic and in shaping how businesses emerge from the pandemic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://fraserofallander.org/scottish-economy/labour-market/fair-work-and-workplace-practice-in-the-...
 
Description Can Do Innovation Summit - Future of Work Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Spoke at and chaired session on The Future of Work, sharing insights from MPEE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.candoinnovation.scot/
 
Description Expert Panel Member - Scottish Government proposed Centre for Workplace Transformation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Expert panel member to develop a proposal to establish a Centre for Workplace Transformation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description Invited presentation (Findlay), Work and Wellbeing: Levelling up the UK Webinar, Institute for the Future of Work 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentations and discussion on the potential role of fair work in recovery plans and levelling up across the country. All panellists discussed the role of good work in building strong, resilient communities across the country; building the conditions of good work to reduce growing inequalities in work and health; and how best to align health, social and economic interests in recovery plans. The audience was primarily the UK cross-parliamentary group on the future of work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.ifow.org/event/work-and-wellbeing-levelling-up-the-uk
 
Description Invited presentation on fair work to South of Scotland Enterprise Agency Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation and debate on the role of fair work in economic development
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Productivity Insights Network presentation on business models and work engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Expert Productivity Insights Network panel on Employer and Employee Needs post-Covid-19
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Showcase Video for CIPD Applied Research Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Patricia Findlay and Colin Lindsay delivered an ARC Showcase Video on Transforming Productivity through Employee Engagement and Innovation for the CIPD Applied Research Conference 2021. This session supported the CIPD ARC Conference, and facilitated a discussion of Findlay and Lindsay's current ESRC funded research on Improving management practices, work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing, including providing an opportunity for eligible and interested businesses to become involved in the research. The session also highlighted the partnership between the CIPD, the lead body for HR professionals, and the PrOPEL Hub, funded by ESRC as part of the Transforming Productivity Programme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://t.co/Z3R08MAXqH?amp=1
 
Description What does the evidence say about employee engagement? 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation by Findlay and Lindsay at Scottish Counicl for Development of Industry Productivity Matters Conference, online, 12 February 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.scdi.org.uk/events/people-and-productivity-productivity-matters-conference-2021/