David Oliver: Work wellness programmes aren’t the key to improving NHS morale or retention

André Spicer, a professor of organizational behavior, discusses how workplace wellness programs do not improve employee happiness, citing a decline in staff satisfaction in the NHS. The 2022 staff survey, with over 600,000 responses, showed low scores and a high percentage of employees considering leaving. Many reported inadequate staffing, low morale, and burnout. Factors contributing to stress included long hours, job insecurity, and lack of support. Initiatives such as stress management classes and wellbeing apps have been ineffective. Research from Birkbeck University suggests that improving morale and wellbeing requires manageable workloads, reduced bureaucracy, and better retention. The emphasis should be on preventing workplace stress rather than simply providing coping mechanisms.

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