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BUU11560 Work & Wellbeing

(5 ECTS credits)

Lecturer

Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinane and Tamara O’Connor   

Module Description/Content

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established the workplace as one of the priority settings for health promotion in the 21st century. The workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers and in turn the health of their families, communities and society. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI, 2016) estimates that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and stress, anxiety and depression (SAD) are the most common workplace health issues and account for 68% of work-related illness in Ireland. In addition, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work estimates that around half of European workers consider stress to be common in their workplace, and it contributes to around half of all lost working days. Therefore it is essential to focus on wellbeing in the context of the workplace.

Wellbeing is a concept that incorporates elements of positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement; it focuses on flourishing - in individuals, organisations and society - (Seligman, 2011).  Evidence supports that teaching the skills of wellbeing helps prevent depression and anxiety, and increases optimism (Gaffney, 2012; Seligman, 2011). On a personal level, wellbeing is about positive mental health, managing stress, and healthy ways to deal with difficulties.  Professionally, wellbeing in the workplace is about initiatives to reduce stress and “to improve the mental and physical health of employees” (Biron, Burke & Cooper, 2016, p. 1).

In this module, junior fresh (JF) Global Business students will examine their own wellbeing as a starting point for considering the importance of organisational and societal wellbeing. The module will be both academic and practical in its delivery and assessment. Students will examine both the business case and evidence base for work-life balance and wellbeing initiatives from research and case studies from various business contexts (e.g. new venture, corporate, non-profit). Students will reflect on what wellbeing means for them personally and professionally, and learn about how it can be promoted within the workplace. Students will also gain an understanding of stress, what it is and how it impacts on self, others and organisations, both positively and negatively. Throughout the module students will identify and overcome barriers to achieving wellbeing and engage with techniques and strategies to manage stress and improve resilience. They will learn social and emotional skills and competencies for enhancing their communication, leadership and team working skills. 

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module, the student should be able to:
  • Understand the business case and evidence base for wellbeing promotion at both an individual and workplace level
  • Understand the meaning of wellbeing and identify the factors that impact it, both within and outside the workplace
  • Understand the role of relationships, including with oneself, in well-being and cultivate effective communication and relationship skills
  • Develop and apply strategies for improving well-being in their own lives and for larger groups within an organisation

Textbook and Readings

The following are an initial example of the types of readings we propose. Specific reading and exercises for each topic will be provided in the first lecture and outlined on Blackboard.

Richardson, K. M. (2017). Managing employee stress and wellness in the new millennium. Journal Of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 423-428. doi:10.1037/ocp0000066

Williams, M. & Penman, D. (2011) Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, Piatkus, London.

DeFrank, R.S. & Cooper, C.L. (2013). Worksite stress management interventions: Their effectiveness and conceptualisation. In C.L. Cooper (Ed.), From stress to wellbeing, v.2, pp. 3-13.  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Gaffney, M. (2011). Flourishing: how to achieve a deeper sense of well-being, meaning and purpose – even in the face of adversity. Dublin: Penguin Ireland.

Seligman, M. (2011). Flourish: A new understanding of happiness and well-being and how to achieve them. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

http://www.who.int/occupational_health/en/
www.authtentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu
www.happyandwell.com.au

 

Module Prerequisite

None.

Assessment

Personal reflection portfolio (60%)
Group project (40%)