The practical politics of well-being debated

The New Economics Foundation has published The Practical Politics of Well-being – a collection of personal contributions to the debate on alternative political narratives of well-being from a Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative perspective.

The politicians involved are Professor Michael Jacobs, a special adviser at the Treasury and then 10 Downing Street until the last election, Jo Swinson, Lib Dem MP for East Dunbartonshire, and Jonty Olliff-Cooper, director of policy and strategy for the social business A4e.

The introduction outlines what’s happening now in the UK on well-being and provides an overview of the evidence from well-being science. The fourth contribution, by Matthew Taylor, sets out a view both of what is necessary for well-being to be an effective driver of policy and what its potential might be.

A theme running throughout the collection is the issue of individual versus structural level approaches to enhancing well-being.

Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a Chartered Psychologist, comments:

“We are delighted to see the issue of national well-being moving up the political agenda and  support NEF's activities in stimulating public policy debate in this field.

“When considering how to increase national well-being, it is vital to look at how people are treated at work. Many of us spend a high proportion of our time in the workplace: this time can be a boost to well-being if we are being treated well, feel valued, get constructive feedback, receive support while also being given autonomy and challenged to do our best.

“Conversely, poorly managed workplaces can be detrimental to well-being and lead to problems such as work-related stress.

“Ensuring that there is good people management and leadership in UK organisations is vital to creating well-being-enhancing workplaces. While there are many good examples, there is still a way to go in making positive people management the norm in UK workplaces. This requires shifts at individual, organisational and national level. Public policy has an important role to play."