Psychological predictors of workplace well- being and productivity in the engineering sector

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: The Warwick Manufacturing Group


This project will consider psychological predictors that influence workforce health, wellbeing and productivity. The initial phase will involve preparation of a publishable literature review paper, focused on developing a testable model that will subsequently be the focus of the empirical studies.

The project will draw on behavioural science and behaviour change theories in the context of wellbeing (likely to be focussed on lifestyle and work-related stress). The impact of these factors, and subsequent interventions, on an individual's engagement with their role and consequent job performance will be the primary focus.

The research is likely to focus on both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Systematic review or meta-analysis will be the initial focus, as well as a range of interview and experimental studies. The final element is likely to be a small scale trial of a targeted intervention.


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Clohessy S (2019) Factors influencing employees' eating behaviours in the office-based workplace: A systematic review. in Obesity reviews : an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509796/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1939097 Studentship EP/N509796/1 02/10/2017 30/06/2021 Sophie Clohessy
Description Firstly, a significant outcome of the PhD so far is the publication of a systematic review titled ' Factor's influencing employees' eating behaviours in the office-based workplace: a systematic review'. Employees spend a large proportion of their time at work and typically consume third of their total calories during the working day. Research suggests that the workplace environment can affect employees' eating behaviours, leading to various related health consequences. This systematic review aimed to identify and synthesize the evidence surrounding factors influencing eating behaviours within an officebased workforce. The literature search was restricted to studies published in English between January 2008 and April 2018. A total of 5,017 articles were screened and assessed for eligibility, of which 22 articles (n=23 studies) were included in the review. All included studies were subjected to quality assessment and were summarized into groups (themes) of "factors" affecting any aspect of eating behaviour at work. The findings revealed a number of factors influencing eating behaviours at work relating to the job role, workplace food environment, and social aspects of the officebased workplace. Most of the existing research implies the officebased workplace has a negative influence on eating behaviours. The findings of this review provide an evidence based, comprehensive summary of the possible determinants of eating behaviours in the workplace, which may help researchers to identify factors that are potential targets for intervention.

Secondly, I learnt a valuable new skill of undertaking a systematic review and since this is published I also learnt about the publication process.

Thirdly, the systematic review findings has opened up further research questions. The systematic review found that colleagues are an important influence on eating behaviours in the workplace. However, it is currently unclear if colleagues have an impact on individual's body weight judgements. Decision by sampling theory (DbS) proposes that judgements of a stimuli are based on the rank of stimuli in a given sample. I conducted a study to examine whether a number of subjective judgements are influenced by where people think that they rank in terms of their weight relative to others and whether rank of weight within different reference groups predicted subjective judgements of weight status. In a cross-sectional survey, office workers (N=352) ranked their weight within four reference groups (e.g. colleagues) and measures of weight status, perceived risk of diseases associated with overweight, motivation to lose weight/engage in physical activity and self-reported weight/height. The study found that where individuals rank their weight relative to others predicted a number of subjective judgements. Participant's rank of weight among friends was the most important reference group when making weight status judgements, UK population was the most important group for remaining outcome variables. Findings support and extend DbS theory, demonstrating how subjective judgements are influenced by rank of weight among others. Future research is now investigating the composition of reference groups when making body weight judgements, using a sample of office based workers.
Exploitation Route The outcomes of the published systematic review can be used for non-academic and academic routes. Firstly, academics may wish to take forward the suggestions for further research stated within our systematic review for example., research is required to investigate disordered eating at work and any predictors that can generate or exasperate disordered eating. In terms of non-academic routes, the findings from the systematic review may be used by office-based workplaces. By informing workplaces of the factors that can affect office based workers eating behaviours, findings may inform practises or policy. For example the review found that job related factors can have a negative influence on workers eating behaviours such as eating lunch at a desk and not taking a lunch break, Therefore office workplaces and managers may want to implement strict rules/policies on eating lunch away from desks. Furthermore the review also found that the availability of healthy food options influence eating behaviours positively, therefore workplaces may modify their food environment to encourage eating. Furthermore, studies within this PhD are investigating how people make judgements about their body weight. This will add to the literature on body weight judgements in academia, develop further scientific knowledge on this topic and potentially inform possible interventions.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Other