Our research, resources and publications
Research, including tools and resources developed
Learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic - approaches to support employee health and wellbeing

Work, Health and Wellbeing Research Consortium members examined how organisations responded and adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to supporting employee mental health and wellbeing. The report soon to be published in full shares activities from five case study organisations and identifies important learnings for what works, and where approaches can be strengthened, as we move beyond the pandemic. 

Please contact office@affinityhealthatwork.com if you would like to receive a copy of the final report.

Line manager behaviours to support health, wellbeing and engagement

This fantastic new resource by the CIPD draws from research led by Affinity Health at Work.

These free to access resources include a series of quick and easy to use guidance and exercises specifically for line managers. It contains quick view information, quizzes and self-guided exercises for line managers to develop behaviours that protect and promote health and wellbeing at work. 

A line manager's behaviour and the culture they create in their team is the biggest influence on an employee's experience of work. By improving their management capabilities, managers can improve their own wellbeing as well as that of their team, achieving better results and benefiting the organisation as a whole. 


What if your job was good for you? Transforming mental health and wellbeing at work.

We are delighted to share a new report from Business in the Community (BITC), developed in partnership with Affinity Health at Work. This report, developed by Business in the Community (BITC) with Affinity Health at Work, sets out a transformative agenda for the future of mental health and wellbeing at work. The report draws on lessons learned by organisations during the pandemic and makes the case that employers should give mental health and safety the same priority that is accorded to physical health and safety. The report argues that flexible and responsive job design is essential to workplace wellbeing, since it empowers employees to define their own ‘good work’ within organisational constraints.

The report and wider project was informed by stakeholder interviews, a literature review and by the BITC 2020 Mental Health at Work Survey (conducted by BITC and BUPA). Sustainable mental health at work is linked with organisational values, leadership behaviours, diversity and inclusion and many other imperatives.

The report, literature review and case study examples can be downloaded from the Business in the Community website: https://www.bitc.org.uk/report/what-if-your-job-was-good-for-you/

Keeping Lone Workers Safe and Secure

RSSB commissioned BritainThinks and Affinity Health at Work to conduct research with the aims of identifying the core defining factors of lone working, the key risks and impacts of lone working and identifying gaps in and barriers to accessing the current support available to lone workers in the rail industry.

Three separate recommendations were developed, including checklists, action plans, and in the case of the lone worker document, a wellbeing action plan.

To gain access to these resources, register on the RSSB website:


Using the IGLOo framework to stay mentally healthy at work during the Covid-19 outbreak

This guidance has been developed by combining the latest evidence on the prevention of mental ill-health at work with insights from our recent project - funded by the ESRC Productivity Insights Network and conducted in collaboration with Professor Karina Nielsen at the University of Sheffield - that explores the resources required to support employees returning to work following mental ill-health sickness absence. We used our recently developed IGLOo framework - that considers individual, group, leader, organisational resources - to identify the resources that can help people to stay mental healthy at work. For further information about our return to work research, please read the report: 


The Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic of the L&D Profession: perspectives from independent learning practitioners. CIPD

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the way we learn. Learning and development practitioners have been challenged to step outside of their comfort zone, be curious and embrace new ways of delivering learning with high impact for the digital age.

This longitudinal focus group study investigated the experiences of a group of independent learning and development (L&D) practitioners as they responded to the onset of the pandemic, dealt with the professional and personal ramifications, and navigated their way towards an exciting, yet in many ways, daunting and uncertain future.

The research began in May 2020 with the following aims:

1 Gain expert insight into how to deliver learning and development effectively in the digital environment, with a specific focus on delivering formal learning and skills development training.

2 Identify the barriers L&D practitioners face and the resources they can draw upon to support them.

3 Equip the L&D profession to add real value for the future.

Pugh, C., Lewis, R., Yarker, J. and Green, M. (2021) Impact of COVID-19 on the L&D profession: perspectives from independent learning practitioners. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Work adjustments for mental health: a review of the evidence and guidance

Work adjustments are commonly put in place to help returning employees transition back to work following sickness absence. However, little is known about which interventions work best. This research was commissioned by Acas to address a gap in the literature and examines the evidence and guidance available to inform practices around work adjustments for mental health at work. The rapid evidence assessment identified 21 peer reviewed studies and 8 practitioner reports that met the search and inclusion criteria and 19 guidance materials providing recommendations on adjustments for mental health. This report provides an overview of what is going in practice and the key themes from the evidence. Recommendations are provided. The full research report can be downloaded at: https://www.acas.org.uk/work-adjustments-for-mental-health-a-review-of-the-evidence-and-guidance-html

Thriving at work - Using the IGLOO framework to support sustainable return to work

Funded by the ESRC Productivity Insights Network and in collaboration with Professor Karina Nielsen at the University of Sheffield, this project 'Thriving at Work’ explores the resources required to support employees returning to work following mental ill-health sickness absence. We used our recently developed IGLOo framework - that considers individual, group, leader, organisational resources - to identify the resources that support sustainable return. In addition to the research report, we have created a short summary video and guidance for employees, colleagues, line managers and HR professionals. 

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2WTi_p0f0A&feature=youtu.be 

Read the report: https://productivityinsightsnetwork.co.uk/app/uploads/2019/07/Pioneer-Project_Thriving-at-Work.pdf 

Flexible working

We were commissioned by the CIPD to examine the barriers and facilitators to implementing successful flexible working Using a combination of desk-based research, expert round table events and in-depth interviews with stakeholders, employees and managers key learnings were drawn together.

This evidence based guide published by the CIPD aims to help people professionals and organisations effectively implement flexible working. The guide and case studies can be downloaded here: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/cross-sector-insights-guide

The flexible working toolkit can be downloaded here: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/relations/flexible-working/hr-toolkit

Out of sight, out of mind? Managing occupational safety and health for distributed or remote workers

Funded by IOSH and conducted in collaboration with the University of East Anglia, this project explored how managers and safety and health practitioners can best support the safety and health of distributed or remote workers – those who spend at least some of their work time working away from a main office or location. It generated a toolkit of materials designed to help practitioners and line managers understand the challenges and develop the relevant behavioural approaches.

- Full toolkit, together with an explanatory video and the full research report can be downloaded at: https://www.iosh.co.uk/outofsight



Psychological implications of business travel study report

This research commissioned by International SOS Foundation explored how business travel impacts travelling executives. The study explored the psychological implications in addition to organisational, social and individual factors that support and hinder psychological health.

The white paper and a range of tools, guidance and checklists can be downloaded from the International SOS Foundation website: http://learn.internationalsosfoundation.org/Psychology_Study

Developing managers to manage sustainable employee engagement, health and wellbeing

This project reviewed all the available literature about what affects the success of programmes to develop managers to manage in ways that improve employee engagement, health and wellbeing. It resulted in the creation of a set of checklists that highlight the range of factors that can enhance or reduce effectiveness of such programmes, together with a maturity model and other materials, with the aim of helping organisations in implementing programmes successfully.

The checklists and guidance developed, together with other materials and the report on the underlying research can be downloaded at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/developing-managers.aspx


Managing for sustainable employee engagement – what managers need to do

This research developed a behavioural framework setting out what managers need to do to engender engagement in their team, while at the same time preventing stress/protecting wellbeing, in order to create sustainable employee engagement. This brings together our previous work on management competencies for enhancing engagement and for preventing and reducing stress at work.

A guidance leaflet based on the research can be downloaded at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/publicpolicy/policy-reports/engagement-behavioural-framework-guidance.aspx

Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work

This research programme explored what managers need to do to prevent and reduce stress in their employees. It developed a framework of relevant manager behaviours, and evaluated an intervention to support managers in developing their skills.

- Three guidance leaflets based on the research are provided below: MCPARS framework; MCPARS guide HR; MCPARS guide managers

- Self-report version of the stress management competencies indicator questionnaire to measure the management behaviours for preventing and reducing stress is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mcit.htm 

- Full research reports can be downloaded as follows:

Manager support for return to work following long term sickness absence

This research explored what managers need to do to support employees following long terms sickness absence and developed a framework of relevant behaviours.

Guidance leaflet based on the research can be downloaded from the CIPD website: http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/hrpract/absence/_manager_support_long_term_sickness

- Checklist for managers to help them support an employee’s return to work can be downloaded from: http://www.bohrf.org.uk/downloads/Manager_support_checklist.pdf

- Full research report can be downloaded from the BOHRF website: http://www.bohrf.org.uk/projects/rehabilitation.html

Management competencies for enhancing employee engagement

This research used a similar methodology to the “Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work” research to explore what managers need to do to enhance employee engagement. It developed a framework of relevant behaviours, which we subsequently combined with the preventing stress findings to create the “Managing for sustainable employee engagement” behavioural framework.

Managing conflict – a guide for managers

We developed a competency framework for Managing Conflict based on our research findings on preventing and reducing stress. The CIPD has used this as part of a guide for managers that provided behavioural descriptors and case study vignettes to help managers understand how best to manage conflict in their team.

Perspectives on leadership

Commissioned by the CIPD, this report provides an overview of recent developments in leadership theory and research, including leadership development, and looks at the implications for HR practitioners.

Cancer and work self-management tools for employees

In collaboration with the University of Loughborough and sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Care, this project developed a self-management tool to help people resolve work issues during their cancer journey by asking the right questions of the right people:


A further collaborative project developed a similar self-management tool for those caring for people with cancer while working: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/documents/cancerinfo/livingwithandaftercancer/workandcancerpdfs/workitoutforcarers_2013.pdf  

Return to work after cancer

This project, funded by IOSH and conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Occupational Medicine and Loughborough University considered the occupational safety and health considerations of returning to work after cancer. It generated a range of tools and case studies as well as a research report:


Developing resilience

This research explored the interventions being used to develop resilience at organisational and individual level and provides a summary of the evidence available.

- Practitioner guide: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/guides/developing-resilience-evidence-guide.aspx

- Research report: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/research/developing-resilience.aspx

Business case for wellbeing and engagement: literature review

We carried out a literature review for a project about wellbeing and engagement in higher education institutions, which looked at the literature around the business case for wellbeing and engagement interventions. The report, reference list and spreadsheet of references are available on the UCEA website: http://www.ucea.ac.uk/en/empres/epl/engage-well/wellbeing-proj-resources/index.cfm.

National policy resources
Engage for Success – evidence paper on links between wellbeing and engagement

We were part of the Engage for Success wellbeing subgroup responsible for producing a report about the evidence for the linkage between employee engagement and wellbeing, and the consequential impact on individual and organisational performance. Available on the Engage for Success website: http://engageforsuccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/wellbeing-and-engagement-04June2014-Final.pdf  

The future of health and wellbeing in the workplace – discussion paper for Acas

A discussion paper put together in collaboration with Acas as part of their ‘Future of Workplace Relations’ series, which reviews the broadening of the health at work agenda in recent times and highlights future challenges to health and wellbeing, such as the aging workforce and economic austerity measures. See: http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/7/k/The_future_of_health_and_wellbeing_in_the_workplace.pdf.

Health and Safety Executive Workplace Health Expert Committee – position papers

We are involved in the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC), which provides independent expert opinion to HSE by identifying and assessing new and emerging issues in workplace health. Working under an independent Chair, WHEC gives HSE access to independent, authoritative, impartial and timely expertise on workplace health. It has produced a number of papers, including one on Work-related stress and psychological health, which can be downloaded here and one on Musculoskeletal disorders and mental ill health, which can be downloaded here.

Implementing change within the NHS: Contributions from Occupational Psychology

We were involved in founding a group within the Division of Occupational Psychology of the BPS that is working to enhance the use of Occupational Psychology evidence in public policy making. The first report published by the group is about the contributions that Occupational Psychology can make to addressing the question of how culture change can be implemented within the NHS. It can be downloaded from: http://shop.bps.org.uk/publications/briefing-papers-and-reports/implementing-culture-change-within-the-nhs-contributions-from-occupational-psychology.html

Moving the employee wellbeing agenda forward – thought piece for the CIPD

We contributed a chapter to this collection of thought pieces, published in February 2016, which provided a range of perspectives on wellbeing at work. Available on the CIPD website: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/culture/well-being/health-agenda-report

Other publications and tools
Online toolkit to support return to work after mental health sickness absence

A toolkit of materials designed to support employees and employers through the return to work process following mental health sickness absence. The toolkit includes employee and manager guides, conversation frameworks, checklists and self-led activities to help improve communication throughout absence and on return.

- Watch an animation here

- View the toolkit here


Online learning materials to help managers to manage employee wellbeing

Managing employee wellbeing online learning package developed in collaboration with Business in the Community: http://www.managingemployeewellbeing.com/bitc

Online learning materials to help managers manage stress with their team

Online learning materials developed in collaboration with Unum: http://sites.unum.co.uk/stress-awareness/HTML/Homepage.html

Book: Preventing stress in organisations: How to develop positive managers

Co-authored by Emma Donaldson-Feilder, Jo Yarker and Rachel Lewis and published by Wiley-Blackwell, this book is based on our Management competencies for preventing and reducing stress at work” research programme. It provides an accessible, evidence-based exploration of how managers can prevent and reduce stress for those they manage. In his review in “People Management” when the book was published, Kevin Friery said “In my dictatorship every manager would be given this book prior to interview and their appointment should be contingent on their ability to demonstrate the ways in which they would implement the learning from it – it’s that good.”

You can buy the book here.

Book: The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of Leadership, Change and Organisational Development

A state-of-the-art reference, drawing on key contemporary research to provide an in-depth, international, and competencies-based approach to the psychology of leadership, change and OD. With a focus on evidence, the chapters are themed around leadership and employee well-being, organizational creativity and innovation, positive psychology and Appreciative Inquiry, and leadership-culture fit.

You can buy the book here.

Book: Work and Occupational Psychology: Integrating Theory and Practice

Written by a team of experts and with contributions from seminal academics and leading practitioners, Work and Occupational Psychology links theoretical learning with key practical skills to form an ideal companion to any student in the field. It introduces the core areas of Occupational Psychology to ensure a rounded overview and assumes no prior knowledge, drawing together contemporary discussion and encouraging critical thinking. 

You can buy the book here.

Corporate wellbeing toolkit

Put together by HRZone and Simplyhealth, this toolkit was developed to help HR professionals more easily access the latest wellbeing research and give them practical advice to help increase wellbeing and productivity in their organisations. We contributed a chapter on the role of managers in raising levels of wellbeing. See: https://www.hrzone.com/resources/corporate-wellbeing-academic-insight-report

Book chapters

We have published the following book chapters: