BUU11560 Work & Wellbeing
(5 ECTS credits)
Professor Amanda Roe and Professor Tamara O’Connor
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 OutcomesHaving 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
Textbook – available in library
Johnson, S., Robertson, I., & Cooper, C. L. (2017). WELL-BEING: Productivity and Happiness at Work. Springer.
Newport, C. (2016). Deep work: Rules for focused success in a distracted world. Hachette UK.
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.
Individual assignment (40%)
The individual assignment will include the student selecting four questions which will come from the eight topics covered in this module. The student will decide themselves which topics to select and will prepare the four reflective questions in one submission. The individual assignment must be submitted no later than 15th December at 5pm via Blackboard.
Individual personalised plan (10%)
Each student will submit a personalised plan. The aim of the personalised plan is to get you to think about your own wellbeing and how you can apply the material learned in this module to promote your own wellbeing. You are been asked to reflect on the process of trying to achieve this as well as building your self-awareness. In your personalised plan you will need to identify a change (i.e. attitude, behaviour, etc.) that you want to implement to improve your wellbeing, come up with an action plan, then monitor and evaluate its effectiveness. In addition, the portfolio will require you to reflect on how they are (or are not) applying the knowledge and skills learned in the module.
Group project (50%)
Consists of designing a wellbeing initiative for a university. A report and group presentation will be due in week 11 and 12 (last 2 weeks of college). Students will propose a wellbeing initiative which is appropriate for staff within a university. They will identify the business need for the initiative and the potential benefits based on previous research and case evidence. The initiative should be specific and realistic in terms of implementation. Students should use information provided in the lecture “Health promotion in organizations” to help them design their initiative. Power point presentations will take place in Week 11 & 12 and staff from Trinity Business School and Student Services will be invited to attend.