At the Future Work Centre, we are passionate about improving the experience of work. We do this by applying an evidence-based approach to psychological research, shining a light on how work affects people, organisations and society – and what does and doesn’t make it better.
By conducting high-quality research about people’s experience of work, sharing the results and tools you need to take action, we go beyond the plethora of myths, fads and fashions surrounding the workplace. We do this for organisations, but we also do our own research. And because we’re independent, we can decide what that‘s going to be. Just as long as it’ll help to make work better for everyone.
Our research agenda
The world of work is changing fast – from how and where we work, the diversity of the workplace and the nature of the work we do. We provide evidence-based actionable insights about the many people-related challenges facing organisations and employees. By openly sharing our findings and resources we can help improve the experience of work.
During the next 12 months, we’re looking at the following areas:
Our series of Insight into Action workshops introduces practitioners to some of the latest thinking in evidence-based practice, and this theme underpins all of our activity at the Future Work Centre.
We want to strengthen the business case for evidence-based practice, demonstrating its relevance to organisational stakeholders and understanding the barriers to its adoption. We will investigate how evidence-based working is being used across different professional fields, highlighting how evidence can be used to improve the quality and efficacy of decisions. Our research will investigate the biases and thinking errors faced by decision makers, and offer guidance for overcoming objections.
Technology at work
Technology plays an increasingly significant role in our experience of work. The proliferation of mobile communication, never-ending email and the reliance on technology to connect virtual teams, is in one form or another impacting our experience of work as never before. And the boundaries between work and home life are becoming less clear. The collision of these two domains brings both advantages and challenges.
In 2016, we continue to develop our research in this area and, building on our investigation into the effects of email on well-being, we will investigate some of the most relevant issues concerning technology and the workplace, including the role of human factors in cyber security, and wearable technologies.
What is employee engagement? This term is commonplace in many organisations, but lacks a clear and consistent definition. Yet millions of pounds is spent on employee engagement annually, with the hope that by increasing individual engagement you’ll have a direct impact on organisational performance.
We want to review what the evidence tells us about engagement and investigate whether other overlapping concepts may better describe what organisations are trying to achieve, such as employee satisfaction, discretionary effort, etc.
Finally, we want to investigate the idea of ‘engageability’ – that individual differences (e.g. personality, values) may mean that some employees are more engaged in their work than others.
Recent coverage in the general and HR media has reported some high-profile decisions to abandon or replace the traditional performance review. At the Future Work Centre, our focus is on establishing the evidence supporting organisational decisions, so this news was of interest to us.
Our research in this stream will investigate the evidence of the effects of abandoning traditional performance reviews, and evidence for alternative approaches. And we also want to take a look at the subject from a ‘big picture perspective’ – what is the evidence for individualised performance management practices, and do they drive organisational performance?
There is much debate about how well higher education prepares young people for work. Organisations are looking for the best and brightest talent for their graduate programmes, but with an increasing acknowledgement that ‘talent’ is not just about degree classification.
We want to evaluate approaches to employability, and initiatives designed to select and develop graduates in employment. How are skill gaps identified and how are organisations developing graduates? What does an approach to the selection and development of apprentices look like, and what practices will contribute to the efficacy of these programmes?
Evaluation of learning and development
There is a clear need for organisations to evaluate their learning and development initiatives as they can be costly and resource intensive. But how do you do this effectively and demonstrate ROI to your stakeholders?
We want to understand how organisations evaluate the value and impact of their learning and development activity and identify the barriers to doing this effectively. We want to examine the efficacy of different evaluation methods from an evidence-based perspective, and how approaches to evaluation can be used to demonstrate ROI.
Leadership and management development
Leadership and management development is often viewed as a strategic organisational practice, with clear links to organisational performance. It’s easy to think of examples where organisations have reached a crisis point, due to poor leadership. Leadership and management are also topics of long-standing interest to academics, and many different perspectives on leadership have emerged.
We want to understand leadership and management development from an evidence-based perspective: what are organisations doing to identify leadership potential and to develop leaders and managers, and how effective are these practices? And in this context, what does an evidence-based approach look like?