INSPIRE LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS BI-ANNUAL MAGAZINE ISSUE 13
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Can Twitter be used to predict mental health issues? PG10 Finding the work-life balance PG18 Debunking stereotypes about older workers PG26
Editor: Ondine Barry Assistant Editor: Sym Samria
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WELCOME Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Inspire, the magazine of the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. This issue focuses on health and wellbeing, with a special emphasis on mental health. This is a topic of growing interest and importance, recently boosted by Prince Harry’s Royal intervention when he talked about the impact on his life of the loss of his mother. Health and wellbeing is, of course, important to us as individuals, but it is also an important issue for business, the economy and society. The growing problems with mental health, in particular, are a drain on our limited resources, impact productivity and work to the detriment of society. In this issue, we approach the topic of health and wellbeing from three perspectives: the workplace, the built environment and coping mechanisms. Leading researchers from across the School share their expertise on these perspectives – illustrating a very diverse set of research projects. I am pleased to report that the School of Business and Economics continues to build upon its strong position as a leading UK business school. This has been confirmed by our continued improvement in the rankings, with the latest Guardian league tables placing us 5th in the UK for Accounting and Finance; 7th for Business, Management and Marketing Studies; and 13th for Economics. Alongside our continued rise in the rankings, applications for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes have doubled since 2015. Another notable success for the School has been the accreditation of our two Masters programmes in Human Resource Management by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. CIPD accreditation is a mark of the quality and practical relevance of the programmes. It also means that graduates of the programmes meet the requirements for Chartered Membership. On the subject of accreditation, we are busy preparing for a reaccreditation visit from EQUIS this autumn. This European accrediting body is one of the three bodies
that make up our much-coveted triple accreditation, the others being the AACSB and AMBA, both of whom are visiting us next year for reaccreditation. As a School we are launching our new strategy that will take us forward to 2022. At the core of this strategy is our revised strapline: Engage – Inspire – Transform. This speaks of our approach to working with all of the School’s community: our students, our academic and business partners, our alumni and the local community. We aim to engage with all of these communities; to inspire through our teaching, research and enterprise; and in so doing to help transform those that work with us. This magazine is just one part of that endeavour. I hope you enjoy this issue of Inspire.
Stewart Robinson Dean, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University
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Bio-security research wins at the University’s 2017 Enterprise Awards
App co-founded by SBE alumnus wins Big Ideas competition
Research by two Professors at the School picked up the coveted Impact to Research award at the 2017 Loughborough University Enterprise Awards. Professor Alberto Franco and Professor Gilberto Montibeller have developed a risk management framework that facilitates timely decision making for managing complex bio-security threats. The framework has recently been employed by DEFRA and the PanAmerican Health Organisation to address and manage a range of similar challenges related to animal health threats. Professor Franco said:
“We are very grateful to all the people who voted for us. The other finalists had excellent projects and so we are chuffed to bits with the outcome. This award is a great achievement not only for us but also for SBE. The School has a long tradition of producing research that has a positive and transformative impact on practice, and so this award demonstrates to the University what we can do and deliver.” Nominated for an award was also SBE student Charlotte Wise for Placement of the Year – for her placement at American Express (where she now has a graduate job – well done, Charlotte!)
Lucas Poelman, an SBE graduate, and Loughborough alumnus Charlie Regis have recently become the recipients of a £10,000 prize for their start-up company, Styliff. Winners of the Big Ideas competition, the alumni are co-founders of the new health and data app. Styliff is an insurance tech company based in London, Silicon Valley and São Paulo. The app aims to calculate health risks based on clothing size and BMI, which is an indicator of future medical claims. The app has been used in conjunction with clients such as Lidl. Employees enter their body shape and size when ordering work uniforms, resulting in lower returns. Although the Styliff company began as a fashion-based business, it is now interlinked with health insurance. The duo have also been named ‘Founders of the Future’, a new network consisting of young entrepreneurs that aims to uncover talent and accelerate entrepreneurship. Many congratulations to Lucas and Charlie on their success!
Professor Franco (middle) at the 2017 Enterprise Awards
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Analysing Brexit Celebrating excellence at the SBE’s Annual Dean’s Awards Dinner 2017 The Dean’s Awards Dinner is an annual event where the School comes together to celebrate the outstanding contributions made by staff, students and alumni. This year we were delighted to welcome Daryl Jelinek, Chief Commercial Officer & Vice President, Nature’s Bounty International, as the keynote speaker. The 2017 Dean’s Awards for Staff went to: • Researcher of the Year: Alberto Franco • Teacher of the Year (this year split between two candidates): Belinda Dewsnap and Ray Randall • Early Career Researcher of the Year: Martin Sykora • Early Career Teacher of the Year: Anna Raffoni • Impact on Practice: Alok Choudhary • Outstanding Contribution (Academic): Andrew Vivian • Outstanding Contribution (Non-Academic): Jen Housden The 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards were awarded to:
A new project conducted by a team of Loughborough University experts has begun to deliver blow-by-blow analysis of the UK’s Brexit negotiations. Dr Elena Georgiadou, Lecturer in International Management at SBE, alongside several other colleagues at the University, is part of a £300,000 research programme that will explore the outcomes of Brexit. The rolling evaluation aims to give an up-tothe-minute picture of the UK’s position as deals which slowly cut Britain’s ties to the EU are made. Dr Georgiadou said: “It is very exciting to be part of such a dynamic project which establishes a platform for dialogue between Brexit negotiations’ stakeholders and policymakers. “The project puts the International Business, Strategy and Innovation (IBSI) group and SBE at the forefront of Brexit negotiations, producing real-time information and knowledge on the development of Brexit dynamics. This project will build SBE’s research capacity in international negotiations as well as showcase the strong research base of the IBSI group.”
Dr Elena Georgiadou
• Mrs Patricia Jackson, BSc Economics Class of 1974 (In recognition of her outstanding service to economics and the banking industry) • Mr Tim Dyson – Next 15, BSc Management Sciences Class of 1984 (In recognition of extraordinary achievement and innovation in the communications field) • Laura Unsworth MBE – Team GB Hockey Player, BSc Accounting and Financial Management Class of 2013 (In recognition of her contribution and achievement in both university and world-class sport) Professor Stewart Robinson, Dean of the School, said: “The School’s Annual Awards Dinner is a time to celebrate the success of our students, alumni and staff. Each year it reminds us of the tremendous achievements of the past and present, and the potential for our future.”
Latest league tables confirm UK ‘top tier’ status! Published earlier this year, both the 2018 Complete University Guide and Guardian University Guide have ranked our programmes in the Top 13. Both tables score over 120 universities on a range of aspects, including teaching and course satisfaction, graduate career prospects and staff-to-student ratio. Our standout rankings from The Complete University Guide include: • 1st for Librarianship and information Management • 8th for Business and Management Studies • 8th for Accounting and Finance • 12th for Economics Our standout rankings in the Guardian University Guide include: • 5th for Accounting and Finance • 7th for Business Management and Marketing • 13th for Economics Loughborough University has also been voted as offering students the best return on their investment in the UK, having been named the ‘Best Value University in the Country’ in a new independent study. And just recently, the University was honoured to receive Gold in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) for its outstanding teaching, student support and graduate destinations.
New SBE extension planned The School is currently in the planning phase of building a new wing of the SBE to house academic offices, doctoral researchers, a behavioural research lab, meeting rooms and a full-service cafe. With funding campaigns being discussed by the Dean and the SBE’s Strategic Advisory Board, do contact Professor Stewart Robinson if you would like to engage with us on this exciting new project.
Management Sciences student wins multiple awards for social action project Jake Brown, a Management Sciences student, has been awarded Entrepreneurial Undergraduate of the Year and the TS Shipman Prize for his social action project, Utilise. The Utilise project, which has been run in Loughborough Town for the past year, works in partnership with local supermarkets to help reduce food waste. By redirecting usable food that would otherwise be thrown away, Utilise turns that food into the nutritious meals that are served at a cafe each Saturday in Loughborough on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ basis. Jake received the TS Shipman prize at the latest Loughborough University annual community prize awards which honours outstanding student volunteers and community groups. Jake has also received an individual recognition in the Enactus regional competition this year. Next year, Jake is embarking on an industrial placement year and will be handing over the Utilise project to a new committee. Congratulations, Jake!
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The SBE hosts prestigious EWEPA XV conference In June this year, the School was honoured to host the first of two international conferences on efficiency and productivity: EWEPA XV (European Workshop on Efficiency and Productivity Analysis), organised by the Centre for Productivity and Performance. The EWEPA 2017 conference comprised a full five days of plenary presentations, multiple parallel sessions and evening activities in London (held at the Senate House in Bloomsbury). With more than 240 UK, EU and overseas academics and doctoral researchers in attendance (every continent was represented, aside from Antarctica!), EWEPA XV was a great success. The next EWEPA conference, in 2019, will again be hosted by the School. Watch this space!
Graduation News Last December, the SBE once again celebrated with our most recent graduates at the bi-annual postgraduation ceremony on campus. It was a lovely celebration of student achievements with drinks, canapés and lots of friends and family. The 2017 Summer Graduation Reception is being held in the Netball Centre before the Graduation Ceremony on Tuesday, 18 July. Congratulations to all of you graduating this summer. We look forward to celebrating with you!
OR59 to be held at Loughborough This year’s Operational Research Society Annual Conference will be hosted by Loughborough University. The OR59 Organising Committee, coChaired by the SBE’s Professor Jiyin Liu and Ms Sayara Beg, Chief Data Scientist at Datanut Sciences Ltd, is planning a high-quality scientific programme. The conference will include keynote speakers, approximately 200 paper presentations in streams ranging from Analytics to Transport, the unique Practitioner/ Academic collaboration sessions and a varied social programme.
“It is a pleasure to welcome the OR59 conference to Loughborough. Our hosting of the conference celebrates the School of Business and Economics’ leading position in researching and teaching Decision Sciences. Indeed, the School’s Management Science and Operations Management group employs many internationally recognised leaders in the field of Operational Research, covering optimisation, scheduling, simulation, decision analysis, problem structuring methods and behavioural OR.” Professor Stewart Robinson, Dean of the School 07
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HEALTH AND WELLBEING In the School of Business and Economics, we have a great depth and breadth of research on the myriad issues surrounding health and wellbeing: from looking at how job insecurity affects workplace performance, through investigating the links between social media and a rise in a drinking culture in the younger generations, to considering ways in which local councils can improve on their sport and fitness services for the betterment of disadvantaged citizens. The articles in this issue tackle the main issues of health and wellbeing in the workplace, the built environment and coping mechanisms, with a particular focus on mental health. Several articles emphasise how our work in Decision Sciences contributes to this theme, and all illustrate the high-quality, relevant research that is being carried out within the School.
A WORD TO THE WISE: ANALYSING EMOTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA By Martin Sykora, Suzanne Elayan and Tom Jackson
The Oxford English Dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances”. Broadly speaking, stress can be seen as a process in which demands put strain on an individual’s ability to adapt – physiologically and emotionally. Low levels of stress are key to our wellbeing, and according to prior research evidence, intensive acute and chronic psychological stress appears to play a causal role in the onset of multiple chronic disease outcomes, such as asthma and obesity, engendering notable costs related to economic productivity and health and social service spending. In an ongoing three-year study funded by the SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada), we have been focusing on researching links between experienced acute and chronic stress and related expressions of stress on geo-located social media streams, working together with academic partners from across the fields of geography and environmental studies, urban planning, as well as psychology at Canadian universities, including Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and the University of Ottawa. This project involves the development of an entirely new ontology model, which builds on and extends the highly successful EMOTIVE system (see Sykora et al. 2013), for representing expressions of emotional stress. The basic idea is to evaluate and apply this model over large geo-located social media datasets (ie several millions of tweets) collated from high-density urban areas, as well as validating the approach on a small sample of Twitter users. The ontology model, which has been developed by Dr Suzanne Elayan, leverages various links between certain emotions that are often accompanied by stress; such as hopelessness, which often co-occurs with
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anxiety and aggressive behaviour, and a variety of feelings that coincide with stress. The model distinguishes between various semantics of the types of possible stress expressions and also provides a score of stress activation or intensity. A significant element of this study has been the ongoing recruitment of a sample of around 140 participants with Twitter-triggered daily surveys on their experiences of acute stress, which we are using to generate ‘Stresscapes’ to help us better understand personal activity centres at a geographical level, as well as exploring applications in urban planning and community stress within urban environments. Additionally we also conduct a collection of hair samples for cortisol analysis (ie as a biomarker for stress) in order to examine how our devised measure of stress predicts chronic activation and allostatic load (ie physiological dysfunction). Participants who agreed to this provided a 0.95 cm hair sample (from the root) at study exit, which will be analysed using immunoassay analysis following a validated protocol. Due to hair growing at a rate of approximately 1.25 cm per month, cortisol embedded in this sample length will reflect a retrospective record of approximately three prior weeks. Hair cortisol levels will be considered an outcome in regression models from our measure of stress. Ultimately we are aiming to improve our understanding of how individuals and groups perceive their surroundings from the analysis of social media and how different physical and social environments may influence their state of mind. A body of evidence suggests that the built environment shapes how we experience and respond to stress. However, there is a critical gap in our understanding of how our environments shape our experience of stressors and influence
how we cope with our perceived stress because of the availability (or lack thereof) of resources, eg a safe parking space. There is a lack of place-based measures of stress to facilitate research on these interrelationships. Our research within this project is certainly stimulating, but is only a step in this direction.
RELATED WORK ON MENTAL HEALTH AND PUBLIC HEALTH SURVEILLANCE According to the World Health Organisation, common mental disorders such as depression, bipolar affective disorder, dementia and schizophrenia affect about 410 million people globally, among which depression alone affects about 350 million people, making it the world’s fourth largest disease. Mental disorders can sometimes lead to self-harm, even suicide, which is a leading cause of death among teenagers and adults under 34 years of age. Given the pervasiveness of social media within younger demographics especially, we are also exploring statistical machine-learning models for predicting mental health conditions based on emotional, behavioural, linguistic and word choice profiles of Twitter users. Initial results of this work indicate that mental health conditions can be anticipated from such social media data, and that some can be predicted more accurately when emotional features from systems such as EMOTIVE are included, which is an exciting and interesting initial finding. Also, developing our semantically driven computational big data analysis of emotions further has resulted in a fruitful and ongoing collaboration with colleagues 11
— “With social media it has become possible to capture and measure what in the past would be viewed as a fleeting expression of emotion.” — from Harvard University (Chan School of Public Health), Robert Koch Institute (Germany), Boston University and several other institutional partners in North America.
BACKGROUND ON THE EMOTIVE SYSTEM
One of the initial outcomes of this collaboration has been a publication in The Lancet journal (2016) which looked at the use of EMOTIVE in real time to detect space-time clusters of highly charged negative emotions expressed following traumatic events (ie the Paris, November 2015 terror attacks) as a way of anticipating post-disaster psychological need.
In the 19th century, Charles Darwin argued that an instant method of reading emotions was to read facial expressions. But why would we want to read and understand human emotions? Emotions are aroused as a response to stress as simultaneously as the physical responses in the body are. Furthermore, understanding human emotion is key to predicting human intention and behaviour. But staring into people’s faces in the hopes of catching the microbursts of emotion, and then accurately interpreting these facial expressions, is not a very practical way of studying a sample of the population’s emotions.
There is a body of evidence that space-time syndromic surveillance can effectively detect disease outbreaks, however our work indicates that there is some promise in systematically employing advanced sentiment detection on social media in real time, to help identify populations in mental health support need during and after disasters. Our research output from the Stresscapes project will likely directly feed into this collaboration as well. We have also just been successful in a Horizon 2020 bid to study wellbeing and healthy aging through the analysis of emotions and stressful experiences from various sensory data, where the analysis of social media networks only represents part of the input. This is a large project worth over 4 million Euros, with more than 170K Euros coming to the School of Business and Economics. The primary challenge of this research will be to devise techniques to automatically detect expressions of stress and expressions related to emotional wellbeing over multi-modal data (eg images, audio files).
Now with social media, however, it has become possible to capture and even measure what in the past would be viewed as a fleeting expression of emotion, and that is what the EMOTIVE system does. EMOTIVE was developed by a team of academics centred around Professor Tom Jackson, Dr Martin Sykora and Dr Suzanne Elayan at the School’s Centre for Information Management. The rise in big data from user-generated content on social media, smartphone apps and various other web-based interactive forums has been a catalyst for opening up significant research opportunities leveraging big data analytics and computational approaches in this domain. EMOTIVE is capable of extracting finegrained emotions from sparse, informal social media-style messages at a rate of thousands of social media posts a second, with currently the best-reported f-measure in the world. It is different from comparable approaches in that rather than relying solely on statistical techniques, such as machinelearning models, we realised that there are benefits to using and incorporating semantic techniques that could provide enhanced meaning around what text in posts means and how to interpret it more accurately. Hence, we were among the first to incorporate ontologies into sentiment analysis within our approach.
Also at the time the system was first developed in 2013, and to some extent this is still the case, most work focused on polarity-based sentiment detection, where a piece of text would be evaluated and scored as either positive, neutral or negative in terms of the expressed sentiment. Instead, EMOTIVE looks for basic cross-cultural emotions, such as anger, surprise, disgust and fear, while still detecting happiness and sadness. This fine-granularity provides more insight into emotional content in social media posts, relative to other approaches. EMOTIVE was originally developed for national security purposes to help monitor the potential for civil unrest following the 2011 London riots, with funding from the Ministry of Defence’s Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Within two subsequent projects, REDITES and CESA, which were also funded by the DSTL, the analytics techniques were developed further with the latter project focusing on sarcasm and humour detection on social media and its effects on accurate sentiment analysis.
“I’m so sick and angry about what’s happening in #Paris... I just don’t know what else to say...” – “I love my country, I love #Paris and tonight I am heartbroken, angry and lost. #prayforparis #FRANCE” – “No picture. I just wanna say i’m sad, i’m scared & my heart is broken again. This is a nightmare” –
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CONCLUSION Our work on EMOTIVE continues to expand as we start to realise its potential. For instance, the team have been investigating persuasive language use (on social media streams and its effects on individuals), information overload (on cognitive capacity during police interrogations), coping mechanisms (on social media associated with stress reduction behaviours) and early intervention of ineffective cancer treatment.
Martin Sykora is Lecturer in Information Management and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
In a rapidly changing world our research has provided real-time insights into everyday life. Of course the EMOTIVE and Stresscapes approach is not perfect, and given how contextual social media posts tend to be, there are various challenges that we are currently working on. Our biggest concern has always been the ethical issues of applying a real-time lens on society. We continue to work on the important questions around social media analytics and ethics, especially questions around privacy and informed consent. The digital world is certainly challenging, but it is still full of promise and an area in which we relish working.
Suzanne Elayan is a Research Associate in the Centre for Information Management and can be reached on email@example.com
Tom Jackson is Professor of Information and Knowledge Management and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
#IMSOWASTED HOW SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONTRIBUTING TO THE RISE OF A DRINKING CULTURE IN THE YOUNG Based on current and existing research into social media, social media platforms are seen as ‘intoxigenic environments’ because they can encourage people to drink – often with negative consequences.
Interview with Nina Michaelidou
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— “Drinking is often associated with being cool or being part of a group, so the peer pressure is very effective and potentially dangerous.” —
There are many reasons why people drink alcohol, but the main reasons seem to be socialisation, sensationseeking, avoidance and enjoyment. While recent statistics show relatively decreasing levels of alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm costs England around £21 billion a year, with nine million people drinking above the recommended daily limits (Alcohol Concern).
Nina herself began researching the area of social media and brand promotion years ago, while she was at Birmingham University, with funding originally from Alcohol Research UK examining alcohol brands and clubs’ pages on Facebook. In 2012, when Nina moved to Loughborough University, she carried on with the research which prompted being invited to submit a book chapter on the marketing perspective of social media and drinking.
Dr Nina Michaelidou is a Reader in Marketing at the SBE and conducts research into social media and marketing. Most recently, her work has focused on the role that social media – notably Facebook – plays in propagating a drinking culture, especially within the young.
The book chapter (“Understanding Social Media as Commercial Platforms for Engaging with Young Adults” in Youth Drinking Cultures in a Digital World, Taylor and Francis 2017) is primarily a review of marketing and advertising tactics that alcohol brands are found to be using to engage with young adults, and include sales promotions, events, broadcast sponsorships, alcohol advertising and viral marketing.
“Surprisingly, there is not much within the marketing and business ethics literature to date on the effect of social media on drinking in the young,” says Nina, “and yet the ethical and moral issues surrounding this phenomenon are extensive and serious.”
“I think the chapter gives people an idea of the amount of marketer-controlled content that is out there and how social media has now become a commercial platform,” explains Nina.
“It’s impacting people’s decision making about alcohol, especially the younger generation because they are more susceptible to promotions from clubs and brands. And there is a huge amount of content out there. One international alcohol producer we observed has 14 million ‘fans’ on Facebook alone. That’s not even looking at Twitter or Instagram.” The original research, published in the Journal of Marketing Management, looked at how alcohol brands, clubs and Facebook groups interacted with people on Facebook: “what tactics were used to engage with their audience,” she explains, “and how people engaged and responded.” In doing this research, she discovered that the brands capitalised on events like holidays or on good weather, engaging through posts and content with their fans to get them to talk about their experiences with the brand in connection with that occasion – having good fun on holidays with images of social drinking. “Of course people who use Facebook want to express themselves,” says Nina, “they want to network. That’s why they use Facebook, so they are encouraged to do that. The brand marketers trigger the conversation and sparks off a dialogue with the consumers. Some of the clubs we looked at were offering free taxi rides to the clubs, discounts for drinks, competitions resulting in prizes that included their product – this works especially well with students who are very susceptible to this sort of sales promotions because of the cost of alcohol.”
In her research, Nina looks at the tactics that these brands use but also at the social implications of these tactics: “The brands are controlling and manipulating the content, influencing the consumers. The users themselves are not just engaging but perpetuating the content. So, it becomes a bit of a circle: the brands initiate the conversation, the fan engages and creates content in some instances and which other people will see and might be spurred on to talk about the brand or even use the brand, and that creates implications, especially when we’re talking about young people.”
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So what’s next for Nina? “I am also looking at food images on social media – does this affect levels of obesity? When you are exposed to beautiful pictures of food, do they affect your eating habits? Are you stimulated just by an image to eat/overeat? There are millions of food images across social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest – uploaded not only by individual users but also by food companies. More research is needed into that link as I am not aware of any at the moment.”
— “The brands are controlling and manipulating the content, influencing the consumers; the users are perpetuating the content. So it becomes a bit of a circle.” —
One of the most important and possibly the hardest to quantify implications is the addition of peer pressure: “Alcohol has become a big problem when it comes to mental health, especially for the young. Drinking is often associated with being cool or being part of a group, so the peer pressure is very effective and potentially dangerous.” Nina describes how on Facebook you are often more open to criticism when you engage online; posting pictures can often lead to social comparison, which Nina thinks plays a role and needs to be researched in order to be understood better – for users but also for the regulators. “Some researchers have suggested that all alcohol promotions should be banned from social media,” says Nina, “but I don’t know how achievable this is. I think possibly the best way forward is to have companies self-regulate; be more sensible, be more responsible. And of course, education is extremely important – educate the younger generation in schools and at home before they start drinking so they understand the effects of alcohol and binge drinking and the possible consequences.”
Nina Michaelidou is Reader in Marketing and Associate Editor of the Journal of Marketing Management. Nina can be reached on email@example.com
LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT LEISURE AND WORK:
FINDING THE WORK-LIFE BALANCE Surprisingly, research into the interactions between our work and our broader lives often isn’t about balance at all. While general discussions around this topic often use the phrase “work-life balance”, most individuals experience a dynamic and changing interaction between their work and home lives. It cannot be reduced to a simple “balance” image like a see-saw or pair of scales. Factors such as life stage, working conditions, the supportiveness of supervisors, etc are all in the mix. By Ciara Kelly 18
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— “Thinking about your leisure activities shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed as ‘day dreaming’ because it appears to be linked to higher task performance.” — Traditionally, this area of research focuses on the relationships between individuals’ family lives and their work. In contrast, I focus on leisure rather than family. Leisure activities are becoming increasingly relevant to those in employment and employers alike. We know from research that younger generations value leisure more highly than previous generations. Younger generations are also having relationships that are shorter and begin later in life. When you combine this with the trend for starting a family later in life, we can see that there is greater opportunity for leisure to play an important role. It may therefore be time for employers to include leisure activities in their consideration of the wellbeing of their employees, not to mention in their efforts to attract high-quality new recruits. A workplace offering flexible working practices that facilitates our leisure roles as well as our family roles may be an inviting prospect for individuals now joining the job market. Leisure was a vibrant topic of research in the 1980s and ’90s when researchers assumed that the increasing levels of automation of work would rapidly lead to vast increases in time available for leisure. This expectation led to an interest in how to maintain a sense of purpose and wellbeing within society without the structure of paid work. Additionally there was an optimistic sense of opportunity for humans to engage in more creative and innovative behaviour, particularly those behaviours that would enhance our collective wellbeing. As time has passed it has become clear that despite some gains in leisure time over the past few decades, the changes have not approached the levels that had been forecasted. As a result, leisure and its interactions with work is a topic that has been relatively neglected. My recent research focuses on ‘serious’ leisure and asks whether it enriches or depletes us in our working lives. Serious leisure describes a situation where an individual engages in an activity that is linked to their sense of identity (ie they
might describe themselves as a climber or an actor). Additionally, an individual who has a serious leisure activity will build skills and knowledge relevant to the activity, persevere with the activity despite moments that are difficult or unpleasant and have plans to continue engaging in the activity into the future. This can be contrasted with ‘casual’ leisure, where an individual may enjoy engaging with an activity at a superficial level but does not intend to develop themselves within it or continue to engage in it if difficulties arise. Any activity can be serious or casual, depending on the way you engage with it, and not everyone has an activity they would consider ‘serious’. My research uses online diaries, which allow individuals to record the time they spend in their casual and serious leisure activities. One such study checked in with people each day over 10 days to find out more about the daily effects of time spent in leisure activities. Most research on leisure compares different people to each other, whereas this research design allows us to identify the effects of fluctuations in leisure activity on the same person over time.
‘positive leisure reflection’. Specifically, I am interested in whether reflecting on the good sides of your leisure activity may boost positive mood during the work day. Preliminary findings on this research indicate that thinking about your leisure activities shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed as unprofessional or merely ‘day dreaming’ because this behaviour appears to be linked to higher task performance and more helping behaviours on the days individuals reflect more than usual. These findings were recently presented at the European Association of Work and Organisational Psychology Biannual Conference.
We are always looking to connect with organisations and individuals who are interested in taking part in our research and learning how to optimise productivity and fulfilment. If you think your organisation would like to be part of one of our studies, please get in touch!
My co-investigators (Dr Karoline Strauss, ESSEC Business School, France and Professor John Arnold at the SBE) and I examined whether changes in individuals’ average leisure time was related to increased psychological resources, such as positive mood and confidence. We found that when individuals spent more time than usual on their serious leisure activities, they reported higher levels of confidence. We also found that this increase in confidence was linked to higher task performance as well as higher levels of proactive behaviours in the workplace. Casual leisure, in contrast, did not appear to have the same effects. We will be presenting this work at the Academy of Management Annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia this August. I am currently investigating the performance and wellbeing impacts of
Ciara Kelly is Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour and a member of the Centre for Professional Work and Society. Ciara can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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THE KEY TO A
FITTER, HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER NATION? IT’S THE ‘WHAT’… NOT THE ‘WHO’! The public sector has a normative role to play in promoting the wellbeing and health of local communities, as well as pragmatic motivations to reduce costs and seek out savings. The role of sport is central here. Indeed, the UK government reports that conditions associated with physical inactivity cost the nation £7.4bn each year (Sporting Future 2015). If sport and physical activity have the power to transform citizens’ wellbeing and create a fitter, healthier and happier nation, as proclaimed by UK sport policy, where does this responsibility lie?
By Ian Hodgkinson
The UK’s Sporting Future policy document clearly positions physical activity as a performance objective of local government, which is marked by the transference of public health responsibility to local government (eg Health and Social Care Act 2012). So what does current provision look like? Local government service provision can be described as a mixed-ownership servicescape, where contracting out service delivery to private for-profit firms and non-profit organisations has been prevalent, reflecting the commonly held assumption that external providers deliver better results than traditional direct public provision. While the decision to outsource service delivery to external agents has typically revolved around motivations for increased efficiency and effectiveness of public services, there are now calls for local governments’ planning decisions to be evaluated based on their potential impact upon their constituents’ health (Academy of Medical Royal Colleges 2013). Yet, in times of austerity and with increasing externalisation of sport and leisure provision, are social welfare and public wellbeing still service priorities?
— “The focus of government planning decisions should be on the strategic capabilities of service providers.” —
Local health and wellbeing strategies have highlighted physical inactivity as an issue that the public sector needs to tackle; after all, UK local government is the biggest public sector investor in physical activity with over £1bn spent per year on sports provision (Sporting Future 2015). Social inclusion is a significant component here, enabling recreationally disadvantaged groups to gain greater access to health and healthy environments (ie activities from which they would otherwise be excluded). Those who oppose the increasing levels of ‘privateness’ in public sector sport and leisure services often cite the decline in the willingness of such providers to cater to disadvantaged groups, but is this actually the case? Whether the service is provided by traditionally ‘public’ in-house facilities or by an external private agent, there
is no significant difference in the social orientation of different providers in the public sector. Interestingly, public and private are equally effective at increasing the inclusion of recreationally disadvantaged groups (despite popular belief that the influence of the private sector on the public one is damaging). Extending this, if public wellbeing transcends the responsibility of a single public service organisation, it is the range of service providers that will shape local government performance such as community health and happiness. Taking into account the degree of ‘publicness’ or ‘privateness’ in local government provision, my research again identifies no significant differences in citizens’ service satisfaction with sport and health opportunities. So clearly it is not ‘who’ delivers the service that matters most, but rather ‘what’ sport and leisure organisations are actually doing in their service provision. While the built environment of sport delivery has been identified in UK sport policy as central to increasing the health and wellbeing of communities, government planning decisions still revolve around who should be providing these opportunities. But, this is not the issue. Instead, the focus of government planning decisions should be on the strategic capabilities of service providers, whether they be local government or private sector agents. Entrance charges to physical activity opportunities are often assumed to be an important component of participation decisions, particularly among recreationally disadvantaged groups. Yet targeted delivery to these groups through price subsidies does not generate increased inclusion and is an ineffective approach to addressing social welfare and public wellbeing. This indicates a level of price inelasticity among recreationally disadvantaged groups who are likely to look beyond simply price as a determining factor for their participation; arguably because low price may be associated with perceived low quality by these groups. This is consistent
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— “In times of austerity, are social welfare and public wellbeing still service priorities?” —
with the failure of public access schemes to combat social exclusion. Recreationally disadvantaged groups may, therefore, be exercising a preference not to participate, rather than any lack of means on their part to participate. So what strategies might increase social welfare and public wellbeing? Hybrid strategies that seek to add value while also having a cost base that permits low prices, relative to competitor offerings, are found to significantly increase the participation of recreationally disadvantaged groups. UK sport policy recognises that: “In the past, much of the action and funding has gone to support people that would probably have met our targets for taking part in sport and being physically active anyway. While we need to ensure these groups are catered for and do not slip into inactivity, the biggest gains and the best value for public investment is found in addressing people who are least active” (Sporting Future 2015, p. 20). To achieve this end and get more people from every background into public sector sport and leisure facilities requires:
If you are interested in obtaining any of the references for this article, please contact Ian.
• Clarification of user needs • Responsiveness to such needs • Identification of less-valued service dimensions • Reduction of costs in these areas • Added value on both quality and price fronts It is these strategic ingredients that need to be cultivated in the built environment if local government planning decisions are to impact local communities’ health and wellbeing. It is time to move beyond the emotions, opinions, assumptions and biases that have driven debate about the merits of ‘publicness’ or ‘privateness’ for the achievement of public value objectives. Instead, we need to move towards developing the strategic capabilities necessary to attain social inclusion and public wellbeing for a fitter, healthier and happier nation.
Ian Hodgkinson is Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Deputy Director of the Centre for Service Management. Ian can be reached on email@example.com
ANALYSING REGIONAL ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
TWITTER TO PREDICT
UK DRINKING BEHAVIOUR Interview with
Dr Patrick Stacey’s research is centred on psycho-social processes in digital contexts which includes language use and emotion in social media. Recently, Patrick has focused on alcohol consumption in the UK, using Twitter to try and predict drinking patterns and behaviour. The bad news for the government and public services – especially the health services – is that alcohol consumption might be increasing once again. In the 1930s, British people drank an average of 3 litres per capita; today, that figure is between 7-10 litres, depending on what data you look at. Despite recent reports that fewer people are binge drinking, when Patrick and colleagues were writing up their analysis, data was showing that more people were consuming alcoholic beverages, and certainly there is much more content on social media now than ever before focused on alcohol and drinking. Drinking puts a strain on public services across the board and with drinking potentially on the rise, how will they be able to cope with the additional pressures? Looking at individual users’ tweets, Patrick and colleagues Daniel Kershaw and Matthew Rowe at Lancaster University Management School, trawled millions of tweets – 31.6 million to be exact – over six weeks, segmenting by postcode to get regional data in relation to alcohol consumption trends.
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BRITISH PEOPLE DRANK AN AVERAGE OF
3 LITRES PER CAPITA IN THE 1930’S
7-10 LITRES PER CAPITA TODAY
Their paper of the research findings, entitled “Towards tracking and analysing regional alcohol consumption patterns in the UK through the use of social media,” won an ACM Web Science Conference Best Paper Award. “Historically, this type of research has been managed by NHS Digital,” explains Patrick, “which is manual, and thus labour-intensive, and expensive. Our method is not historical – it monitors the pulse of alcohol consumption, in real time.” One question at the back of their minds was: Could they match or even outperform the NHS ‘ground truth’? Using a carefully selected “bag of words”, they wrote an algorithm that would highlight any tweet that contained one or more of their keywords (the top seven were: pissed, wasted, wine, vodka, drunk, hungover, hangover), and the more keywords present in any given tweet, the more ‘alcoholic’ it was deemed to be. They termed these ‘bragging tweets’, as the users seemed to be boasting about
how drunk they were or how much alcohol they had consumed. After analysing this data, they were able to come up with a prediction of drinking patterns. Not surprisingly, Friday and Saturday nights were easily spotted as having a pattern. “What was surprising,” says Patrick, “was how good Twitter was in capturing rigorous data. Using the textmining approach we were able to map out a reflection of British culture and behaviour prediction.” So, where are the most ‘alcoholic’ areas of the UK? According to Patrick’s research, they are:
Patrick Stacey is Senior Lecturer in Information Management, Senior Editor of IT and People, and a member of the Centre for Information Management. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Scotland 2. Yorkshire 3. Humberside 4. Wales
Patrick says that their source code is available to anyone who wants to use it for similar data collection, available at GitHub: https://github.com/danjamker
THRIVING OR SURVIVING AT WORK? Effective strategies for supporting wellbeing in late career Nowadays, much importance is rightly attached to psychological wellbeing in the workplace. Research has demonstrated consistently that employees’ wellbeing is positively associated with physical health and is a strong predictor of high individual work performance as well as organisational performance (eg customer satisfaction, productivity, profitability and employee turnover). by Stanimira Taneva and John Arnold
The concept of Thriving at work represents a specific form of psychological wellbeing. It is described as a simultaneous experience of vitality and learning. Vitality reflects a person’s energy and enthusiasm for work, while learning refers to building capacity by acquisition and application of knowledge. Thriving may serve as a gauge of a person’s progress at work and, thus, help employees increase both their short-term functioning and longer-term development. Thriving workers are not just surviving (ie being able to handle job demands through creating a relatively safe environment), but feeling enthusiastic, 26
acquiring new knowledge and skills and experiencing growth. Thriving workers, compared to non-thriving ones, overall perform better, are more creative, have better relationships with their co-workers, feel more satisfied with their job and committed to their organisation and are healthier.
thrive. Recent research has demonstrated consistently that, overall, these negative age stereotypes are inaccurate. Therefore, it is worth exploring how much thriving at work (as opposed to “hanging on”, or surviving) occurs in late career and, if so, in what circumstances older employees feel both energised and as if they are learning.
Conventionally, thriving at work is associated with younger workers. This is due to common age stereotypes suggesting that older (compared with younger) workers are less energetic, proactive, motivated to learn and develop themselves; hence, perhaps less able to
Our research is the result of a two-year Marie Curie (IEF) fellowship awarded to Dr Stanimira Taneva by the European Commission in 2013 and supervised by Professor John Arnold. We studied the personal and organisational antecedents of thriving at work in late career. We started
by interviewing 37 employees aged 55 years and over and 10 human resource managers from 10 large organisations in two sectors (healthcare and information and communication technologies) in two European countries (the United Kingdom and Bulgaria). Then, we conducted an online survey with over 900 older workers (aged 55+) from both sectors and countries. We found that late career employees across countries and sectors reported some age-related changes in their work values, needs, approaches and capacity. These changes were mostly perceived as advantages, rooted in increased knowledge and life experience. Generally, older workers appeared to be more aware of their own potential and needs, more willing to take a proactive approach in managing late careers, and more positive towards opportunities for personal and professional growth than might be expected from how they are usually portrayed. Most of our aged 55+ workers saw themselves as energised and learning/ developing themselves (ie thriving), though perhaps in slightly different ways than earlier in their career. For instance, finding meaningful work and a positive social work environment was considered more important than achieving a promotion or earning more money. However, some participants did adopt a surviving strategy, ie coping with high work demands by preserving and/or maintaining their mental and physical resources. This was particularly the case when job demands were perceived as too high to manage. Most older workers were likely to selfregulate their successful adaptation to age-related changes (and, thus, their wellbeing and performance) by using three strategies, called selection, compensation and optimisation. Respectively, these mean focusing effort on a small number of key tasks, crafting their role so that it played to their strengths and improving their skills through training and development. The use of these strategies was positively associated with high thriving at work and high job performance. They are often seen by researchers as strategies to compensate
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for declining cognitive flexibility and energy, but our older workers saw them simply as ways of being effective at work that experience had taught them. The nature of the work also affects thriving. High physical demands, which were present in some health sector jobs, tended to undermine thriving. Autonomy to organise and carry out the work in one’s own way, and the chance to contribute fully to the social and community life of the workplace, both helped thriving. The lesson is clear: don’t micro-manage or marginalise your older workers.
mostly on protecting the status quo and, at best, maintaining reasonable levels of work wellbeing and performance. Instead, they suggest that many older workers desire and are capable of further development. When these developmental needs are supported by organisations, employees will experience higher levels of work wellbeing and will demonstrate better job performance. Keeping older workers healthy and happy is an integral part of today’s agenda for extended and sustainable working lives.
— “Our findings contrast with traditional views of late career employees as being focused mostly on protecting the status quo.” —
Moreover, we identified a set of strategic human resource management (HRM) practices that contributed significantly to higher levels of thriving at work, while reducing less-positive experiences of surviving at work. Among these practices were: training to update current skills as well as to learn new skills, opportunities to transfer experience to other (eg younger) colleagues, access to challenging and meaningful tasks or assignments, recognition of the significant role mature employees can play, useful feedback from supervisor/manager, financial incentives to remain in the workforce instead of retiring, additional (even if unpaid) leave and opportunities to work past retirement. Most importantly, these organisational (HRM) practices that appeared particularly valued by older workers, suggested an overall extended future time perspective and developmental opportunities. Our findings contrast with traditional views of late career employees as being focused
Stanimira Taneva is Senior Research and Enterprise Associate and a member of the Impact@SBE Team. Stanimira can be reached on email@example.com
John Arnold is Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Director of Research Impact and Programme Director for the BSc in Business Psychology. John can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
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By Jonathan Seaton
TAX ON ALCOHOL IS ALL WRONG I’LL DRINK TO THAT! Dr Jonathan Seaton conducts research in the area of business economics focusing on supermarket price competition, sugary soda pricing and the impact of taxation on the price of alcoholic drinks. He is part of a team of internationally renowned researchers at UEA, Warwick and Sheffield who together have won grants totalling £1.5m from the medical research council and the ESRC. In this article, Jon discusses the issues behind some of his recent research on one of Britain’s favorite addictive drugs – alcohol – and how we can achieve the right balance of a highly profitable export-led industry with the hard fact that many people die because of their overconsumption of it.
As an introduction to this topic, let’s review some news headlines taken from Google News on 24 May 2017:
GOOGLE NEWS on 24 May 2017 ‘Why your waist measurement can predict cancer risk’ The Guardian
‘Six bars of chocolate a week could cut risk of common heart condition’ The Telegraph ‘Half a glass of wine every day’ increases breast cancer risk BBC News ‘Arthritis cure - adding THIS to diet could reduce painful symptoms in the knees’ Express.co.uk ‘Vitamin D supplements: Taking the ‘sunshine vitamin’ could help chronic arthritis pain’ Express.co.uk ‘Is Instagram bad for your mental health?’ HuffPost UK ‘Smokers more vulnerable to most common lung cancer from ‘light’ cigarettes, scientists say’ The Independent (and my personal favourite:) ‘People perceive attractive scientists as more interesting but less able, studies show’ Science Daily
As can be seen from this sample of material, the news media, and presumably their readers, are fascinated by how consumption behaviour or our characteristics impact on health and wellbeing. Additionally, when ‘science’ finds out something is good or bad for us we often feel that something should be done by someone (namely the government). When the Liberal Democratic party decided to put cannabis legalisation in their 2017 election manifesto, many news outlets argued that legalisation of cannabis could create new business opportunities, greater employment and a reported potential £1bn tax windfall. Their action highlighted the moral dilemma faced by policymakers each day: How can you weigh up decisions that can help or harm different groups? There is a fine balancing act between the freedom of the individual versus collective responsibility. Monitoring these 30
decisions and giving a scientific basis for them is the world that economists and other social scientists inhabit. Hard science may create new products, new efficiencies and expand our future domain, but it is the political, legal, business, economic and regulatory nexus that allows the genie out of the bottle creating value, economic growth, employment, improved health and wellbeing. A first best guess at overall economy-wide happiness, though many alternative measures have been suggested, is economic growth, ie the percentage increase in an economy’s income, which has always been a key component of government policy. Economists might argue about short-term demand-led growth strategies – which often fail as they can be overdependent on ever-rising levels of unsupportable consumption – but to generate long-term economic growth, they tend to agree that an economy needs to encourage investment in highly productive technology, training, skills and health and efficient (appropriately regulated) markets. The market place is vitally important for health outcomes, but to understand the interaction between the science, the market place, competition and pricing (my area of interest), we need to delve deeper into what constitutes ‘good’ consumption patterns and how the market can be helped to provide that. To understand alcohol consumption issues, let’s start off by discussing its saintly cousin – water. We all know that water is a fundamental necessity for life. However, it’s a little-known fact that drinking too much water can result in hyponatremia, which can be fatal. Between these two extremes is a healthy amount; in the UK it’s often quoted as about 1.2 litres a day – a ‘Goldilocks’ zone. Similarly, there are ‘optimal’ levels of consumption for food like Stilton cheese, Melton Mowbray pork pies, fish and chips, Cornish clotted cream, haggis, Welsh cakes, black pudding, Quorn, lettuce, fizzy drinks, drugs like ibuprofen and, of course, alcohol. Now, these Goldilocks quantities will change as you alter the variety and quantities of each food or drink item consumed. Your ‘average’ person needs about 2000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight, so if you reduce your pasta consumption you might increase your cheese consumption to bring you back to 2000, which is a good thing. But even nutrition experts argue between themselves about how much fat you should consume, as fat can be good or bad for you depending on whether you are swapping calories or adding calories to the consumption mix. Your quantity of life, quality of life and wellbeing are clearly affected by choices like these over food, drink, exercise, lifestyle etc. So getting the mix right is self-evidently important but
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— “The government needs to send a strong message to retailers to encourage more responsible price setting.” —
complex as we are complex animals. No one – economists, food manufacturers, farmers, biologists, doctors, retailers, media experts, TV presenters – really knows what is best for you to eat each day or each minute of your life for an optimum healthy, happy lifespan, they can only give hints and probabilities for an average person. So why are people like me – economists, scientists, politicians, health experts, associated pressure groups, retailers, manufacturers – always telling people what they should or shouldn’t do regarding alcohol consumption? Unlike many other foods and drinks that can lead to self-harm in large doses, alcohol is both addictive and can radically affect behaviour/cognition – it is both a drug and a poison, and as drugs and poisons go it tastes good, is socially acceptable, is relatively cheap and businesses make an awful lot of money out of it. According to the Wine and Spirits Association (WSTA) facts and figures 2016, the wine and spirit industry is responsible for £50bn in economic activity from half a million employees with a total value of sales in the region of £21bn, contributing to nearly £18bn in tax revenue. In terms of our exports of food and drink, whiskey, beer, wine and gin are in the top 10, according to the Food and Drinks Federation (FDF). Whiskey dominates this sector with £4bn in exports in 2016. Needless to say, whiskey exports are an essential part of the export market for Scotland. Does this mean we should drink more alcohol because it employs more people and supports a major UK industry? Of course not. It’s argued that there are about 60 medical conditions caused by alcohol consumption, including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure; cirrhosis of the liver; and depression. In 2014, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimates that almost 9,000 deaths were related to alcohol consumption. If you include falls, cancers etc, this figure rises to about
20,000, costing the NHS £3.5bn and the taxpayer about £120 a year. Alcohol Concern, the major anti-alcohol pressure group, goes further by evaluating the impact alcohol has on others via crime linked to alcohol consumption. Here the figures are huge: UK alcohol-related crime costs between £8bn and £13bn per year with 8,270 casualties of drink-driving accidents in 2013 (240 fatalities and 1,100 with serious injury). The ONS states that, “Alcohol-related harm costs England around £21bn per year”. We could argue that by allowing this market to exist we are in essence employing over half a million people to kill up to 20,000 people a year and inflict much pain and suffering on many, many thousands. But just a minute – the 20,000 or so, some if not most of them have harmed themselves: they were not forced to drink the alcohol. If anyone is to blame it is those who have overconsumed alcohol despite the clear warnings. Now this is where our work kicks in. Funded by the Medical Research Council, myself and a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and the University of East Anglia (UEA) have asked the simple question about whether the forces operated by the government designed to restrict alcohol consumption – eg raised prices via excise tax and VAT – are actually realised. Supermarkets in the UK could be hindering government efforts to reduce the negative impacts of alcohol consumption by not fully passing tax increases onto the price of the cheapest beers and spirits. Retailers appear to respond to increases in alcohol taxes by ‘under-shifting’ their cheaper products (raising prices below the level implied by the tax increase) and conversely ‘overshifting’ their more expensive products, according to the research. The findings, published in the journal Addiction, showed that supermarkets responded to tax increases by subsidising
prices of cheaper products. Price rises for cheaper products were up to 15 per cent below the level expected if the tax increase had been passed on fully. Although under-shifting affected around one in six of all product lines, these drinks account for a large proportion of total sales: approximately 68 per cent of beer, 38 per cent of spirits and 31 per cent of cider sales. In conclusion, these findings show there is a very clear need for a re-think on government policy in the way alcohol duty is levied to take more fully into account how retailers pass on duty increases to consumers. The government needs to send a strong message to retailers to encourage more responsible price setting on alcohol or otherwise face regulation through more direct policies such as minimum pricing. I’ll certainly drink to that – but probably with a nice, cool glass of water!
Jonathan Seaton is Reader in Business Economics and a member of the Economics discipline group. He be reached on email@example.com
JOB SECURITY, IDENTITY AND WELLBEING
by Eva Selenko
Working on something meaningful and fulfilling, concentrating while the hours fly by and you are feeling creative and good about yourself – who doesn’t like that? Work psychologists call this state ‘eudaimonic happiness’: a state of positive meaningfulness and action. Work can (sometimes) grant us those experiences. If you are lucky enough to work in such a meaningful job, this has significant benefits for your mental health, how satisfied you are with life, for your levels of energy and even for your performance. In my own research, I focus on this type of meaningfulness, and I try to find out more where, when and how people experience these states at work.
WORK IS ESSENTIAL FOR WELLBEING First of all, it is of course important to have work. When compared to employed people, unemployed people in general have lower psychological and physical health, are more likely to suffer from depression and are even affected by higher suicide rates. This is not just because unemployed people may be in dire financial states, but also because they are deprived of the social benefits that work grants us in general. Being out of work makes it more difficult to have the experience of doing something purposeful, to achieve something with others. It makes it more difficult to meet other people outside one’s friends and family, who appreciate one’s abilities and status in society. Without work it is also more difficult to get activated and have a day structured in rest and active time. My research and the research of others has shown that it is exactly these other, so-called latent, benefits
of work that unemployed people are deprived of and that are responsible for their lowered mental health. A deprivation of those work-related factors is associated with worse mental health six months later. In that sense we could say that having work is better than having no work. Interestingly, when you ask someone the question: ‘Why do you work?’, people rarely mention those latent benefits of work. Usually, the first answer that comes forward is: ‘Well, because of the money, of course’ (ie why are you asking me such a stupid question!). When asking unemployed people what they miss most from work, the first aspect that is mentioned is surprisingly not money – but aspects associated with work, the colleagues (even the ones one did not like), the feeling of doing something useful and being part of something bigger.
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THE QUALITY OF THE JOB MATTERS – INSECURE JOBS ARE BAD FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE This is of course not to say that every job is automatically good, healthy and meaningful. Unfortunately, there are numerous job situations that make people physically and mentally unwell, unhappy, depressed. And sometimes fearing for the existence of a job can be just as bad as unemployment. Job insecurity is one of the focal points of my research. More and more people in Europe are affected by job insecurity or the fear of losing their job. Job insecurity is recognised as a major workplace stressor that affects not only mental health and wellbeing, but also how we work and plan our future. It involves an uncertainty about a possible negative outcome – not knowing whether one will become unemployed or not in the near future. Contrary to popular belief, there is no empirical evidence that indicates that fearing for one’s job’s future would up productivity. In fact, people who are more job insecure also show less creativity, less proactivity at work and less general performance. People who feel job insecure, not only are afraid to lose their job and their financial income, they also are aware that other aspects associated with their job are under threat – their professional contacts, the projects they are working on, the status their job and organisational membership brings. In one study among German and Austrian respondents, we could show that people who were more job insecure feared for their access to those other, latent benefits of work. This in turn affected their health – six months later. In a large-scale longitudinal study among Finnish university employees, we not only found that job insecurity negatively affected vigour at work, it also (mainly) negatively affected self-rated performance; confirming generally reported findings that job insecurity has negative consequences.
creation of good jobs? Because work situations not only matter for the individual and organisations, but also are related to how citizens feel in regard to society in general. Together with researchers from the universities of Sheffield and Leuven (in Belgium), we are currently trying to unravel how work and ‘belongingness’ to society in general are related. In two multi-wave studies among British workers we found that unemployed people felt less part of society than employed people, and, in addition, we found that those who are more job-insecure felt less part of British society in general. Work, in other words, appears to be an indicator of how we feel in relation to other people around us; it gives us orientation and identity in relation to wider society. Work is indeed part of who we are, as our data shows. Spinning this thought a little further, when work is threatened or lost, this could imply that part of ourselves will be threatened or lost. And identity threat has been related to a host of negative outcomes in classic social psychological studies – it is associated with more political conservativism and more discrimination towards minorities and outgroups. Good work is therefore not only in the interest of the individual employee, but should be on the agenda of organisations and labour market policy makers as well, when striving for a more inclusive society. In conclusion, as my research shows, work is an important part of who we are, it affects how meaningful we perceive our lives, and also how happy and healthy we are. Moreover, because of the central role it plays for our identity, work has the potential to affect how we behave outside organisations towards fellow citizens in society.
WORKING AND SOCIAL INCLUSION – WORK AS PART OF OUR IDENTITY The challenge for society and organisations is therefore not only to create jobs, but to create good jobs – not an easy task in today’s uncertain economic and political times. According to the Future of Jobs report 2016, we will see major changes in the way (how, where and when) we work, as well as see a number of professions disappear. Why should societies care at all for the
Eva Selenko is Senior Lecturer in Work Psychology and a member of the Centre for Professional Work and Society. Eva can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @evaselenko
CREATING ACCOUNTABILITY IN HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE: A STUDY OF HEALTH AND WELLBEING BOARDS In 2010, the Marmot Review claimed that health inequalities across the population are largely preventable, and recommended partnerships between primary care, local authorities and the third sector.
By Suzana Grubnic
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— “Pressures to do more with less are likely to widen health inequalities between the rich and poor.” —
Partly in response to the Marmot Review, the government passed the Health and Social Care Act in 2012. One of the key elements of the Act was the introduction of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) in local government, in order to both improve democratic accountability and give greater autonomy to health and social care leaders to strengthen health outcomes. On democratic accountability, the formation of the boards reflected a desire by government to take power away from Whitehall and, instead, to place it in the hands of people and communities. Rather than central government measuring against performance targets and indicators, it would be the role of citizens, political parties and other democratic actors to take part in decision making, provide feedback and challenge leaders where appropriate. The composition of health boards could potentially lead to innovative and effective approaches to reducing inequalities and improving health. As a statutory minimum, membership of the boards is comprised of elected councillors, senior local government officers representing adult social care and children’s services, public health officials, clinical commissioners and Healthwatch, as a body representing the local community. In other words, the boards bring together key players, with a range of insights into the care and safeguarding of the population. The boards have the option of co-opting additional members such as the police, fire brigade and universities if it is felt that the key post-holders could help develop new solutions. In order to work toward better outcomes for the public, the boards are tasked with considering the role of wider social determinants such as housing, education and transport on health, wellbeing and quality of life. Addressing continued inequalities in early child development, for example, could help reduce inequalities in educational achievement, and, therefore, contribute to social position and material circumstances that contribute to better health.
Improving the health and wellbeing of people in a given area, and reducing inequalities, is aided by the statutory duties of boards. Specifically, HWBs are responsible for assessing local needs and developing an overarching strategy, and making these public through a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The boards should also provide clear measures of progress on priorities that have been agreed by board members. However, boards face multiple challenges in undertaking duties, including prioritisation of conflicting interests, involvement of marginalised and minority groups in local processes, and the long-term nature of many public health outcomes. The challenges are compounded as boards are operating at a time when public services are subject to budget cuts in an austerity drive by central government. Pressures to do more with less are likely to widen health inequalities between the rich and poor. Together with Professor Stuart Cooper from the School of Economics, Finance and Management at the University of Bristol, I seek to understand how members of HWBs construct and discharge accountability for better health outcomes to a local population. Of interest to us is the development and use of performance measures and their relationship to strategy and accountability. As HWBs comprise multidisciplinary working between politicians, clinicians and senior officers, I am interested in how board members assess their collective impact on meeting the health and care needs of people in their area.
percentage of children living in poverty and an ageing population. Preliminary analysis suggests that there is a general lack of public awareness of the activity of HWBs and a general lack of sanctions available to the public if performance is deemed weak. Members of HWBs feel accountable to a host of parties, including to their own organisation (corporate accountability), to their profession (professional accountability) and to each other in what is a joint endeavour. Our findings suggest a layering of various accountability systems, where democratic accountability is sometimes reinforced by other forms of accountability and sometimes exists alongside different accountability regimes. Our study, potentially, has implications for re-considering accountability in new provider models that unite local government, general practice and community organisations in improving health and reducing health inequalities. There is an argument for a multi-layered accountability approach that extends beyond the local population. Understanding the dynamics of existing accountability regimes could help in designing future accountability arrangements which, in turn, could provide better incentives for improving health outcomes.
Suzana Grubnic is Senior Lecturer in Management Accounting and Director of Programme Quality at the SBE. Suzana can be reached on email@example.com
Our research is based on two HWBs recognised by the Local Government Association as making commendable progress on needs assessment of the local area and strategic planning. Both have populations with marked differences in life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas, and, therefore, health inequality is an issue. Case 1 has a higher percentage of children living in lowincome families, while Case 2 has a lower 35
WHEN THE BELLS GO DOWN: WELLBEING AND OPERATIONAL PERFORMANCE IN THE UK FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE by Karen Maher and Nicola Bateman
Our emergency services are ready to respond in times of crisis 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When we dial 999, we often take for granted in the UK that, within a few minutes, someone will be coming to our aid. But the current political climate of austerity, coupled with a political agenda for change within the emergency services, has left UK Fire and Rescue Services having to make tough decisions due to tightening budgets. These constraints could see major changes to the Service that we, the public, rely upon when in need. Alternative crewing patterns for fire stations and fire appliances have been considered as a viable opportunity to reduce operational costs without impacting upon service delivery. Doctoral researcher Karen Maher, together with supervisors Dr Nicola Bateman and Dr Ray Randall, have been conducting research into the UK Fire and Rescue Service, with a focus on shift work and firefighters’ wellbeing. In a move away from the traditional crewing pattern (eg two day shifts then two night shifts followed by four days off, also known as 2:2:4), Day Crewing Plus (DCP) has been offered as one such alternative. Requiring firefighters to offer cover over periods of 24 hours rather than 12, DCP uses half the number of personnel to crew a station with no reduction in full-time fire appliance cover. To the general public, this appears to be “business as usual.” But inside the fire station, it can feel like a very different way of working. For firefighters on this crewing pattern, shifts are broken into 12 hours of ‘positive’ work and 12 hours of ‘negative’ stand-down time (remaining within the fire station and on-call for emergency incidents). However, despite this being an attractive alternative way of working from a budgetary perspective, our research has found that
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there is a possible impact on individual firefighters’ wellbeing due to extended shift working and increase in work demands. A 50 per cent reduction in staff would increase the number of tasks needed to be performed by the remaining station crew, ultimately making a more demanding work environment. With personnel being able to self-roster for up to five consecutive 24hour shifts at a time, there is a risk of worklife conflicts as firefighters spend increased periods away from their families.
about both their work and personal circumstances. Typical measures used to test the effectiveness of an intervention, such as the introduction of a new work pattern, include the use of standardised surveys to assess general trends across the workforce. When these were applied in this population, the statistical testing suggested there was no significant change in most of the measures before and after the change to DCP. However, the spread and variance within the survey scores suggested not everyone had the same experience.
— “The current political climate of austerity, coupled with a political agenda for change within the emergency services, has left UK Fire and Rescue having to make tough decisions.” —
Following in-depth interviews, and in line with key theories of work wellbeing, firefighters indicated that aspects of the new work environment created demands as well as resources. Some of these were universal to all participants. For example, the split of positive and negative work hours was seen as creating extra time pressures (demand) and the reduction of four watches down to one crew was seen as creating a greater pool of peers for social support (resource).
These extended shifts also have the potential to increase levels of fatigue, particularly if crews are regularly disturbed during the night and are not able to effectively recover when on stand-down. This, in turn, could potentially increase levels of stress and mental distress, creating a possible knock-on effect on the station’s operational performance.
Overall, firefighters indicated DCP offered opportunities to have more control on when, and how, they worked, as well as exposure to a greater variety of tasks and wider variety of colleagues. However, individual perceptions of what aspects of the work environment were demanding and which were resourceful varied between firefighters and were seemingly influenced by their personal circumstances.
Certain policies and procedures put in place by the Service are designed to mitigate the extra demand, such as private ensuite bedrooms to allow for adequate rest, and the ability for families to visit during standdown time; but due to the newness of DCP it is unclear whether these will have the intended effect. Through research commissioned by one UK Fire and Rescue Service, the impact of working extended shifts was more nuanced than first expected. This was due, in part, to the attributions made by firefighters
As an example, the extended shifts were seen negatively by those with young families or caring responsibilities and created extra demands on their close relationships. Firefighters without those responsibilities, however, saw working longer shifts as a resourceful way to condense work hours and extend their time off. The ability for families to visit the station overnight had been designed to reduce the impact of extended time away from 37
— “Rest and recovery was seen as an important part of both individual and organisational resilience.” —
home, but firefighters had mixed opinions regarding the utility of this family friendly policy. Many spoke about the blurring boundaries between home and work life and a conflict of identities, particularly for those with managerial responsibilities, highlighting how individual perception of work characteristics may alter how interventions are received. Rest and recovery was seen as an important part of both individual and organisational resilience. Regular disturbance during stand-down hours increased levels of fatigue especially toward the end of a long batch of shifts. Managers spoke of the need to be mindful of where firefighters were in their shift cycle and to assign more complex or higher-risk tasks to fresher members of the crew, which is only possible through DCP being self-rostered and the roll on/roll off nature of personnel. The provision of private quarters was seen as being beneficial for quality recuperation, with firefighters appreciating the ability to retreat to a private space during negative hours. Some firefighters selected to work DCP were also on a dual contract, offering cover during their rest days for on-call (retained) fire stations.
The extended shifts and the need for these firefighters to effectively recover from fulltime duties appeared to impact upon some on-call fire appliances being fully crewed and available, which has the potential to influence organisational resilience. Operational data for this application has indicated that DCP allows fire services to continue to meet the current demands of the service, and so it is likely that there will be future introductions of the DCP format. This research identifies that given the variation in firefighters’ experiences of working DCP, with some having a more positive experience than others, practical support and advice may help those transitioning over to alternative shift patterns. Such interventions may need to be tailored to reflect personnel’s individual circumstances and could form part of the recruitment and selection process to minimise any negative impact on firefighter wellbeing. By considering staff wellbeing during any changes to shift working, Fire and Rescue Services can be confident in their crews’ continued ability to respond as and when “the bells go down”.
Karen Maher is a Doctoral Researcher in the Centre for Service Management and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org Nicola Bateman is Senior Lecturer in Operations Management and a member of the Centre for Service Management. Nicola can be reached on email@example.com
SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AND ECONOMICS
BUSINESS INSIGHT by Jeff Prestridge
Cause and Effect: The link between money issues and mental health Mental health issues are intrinsically linked to the financial world I write about for a living. They are often a consequence of financial problems with debt much to the fore. Debt that can spiral out of hand, cause long-standing relationships to break down, family homes to be lost and mental breakdowns, or even worse. Mental health problems can also trigger personal finance crises, for example someone suffering from bipolar disorder who overspends and thus gets into money problems. Mental illness and money problems. Both cause and effect. I have witnessed the impact of mental health issues firsthand. When I was in my teens, my father – recently departed – had a nervous breakdown, resulting in a prolonged spell at a psychiatric hospital where he received electric shock treatment. It was all too difficult to fathom at the time, but only the kindness of family friends kept the proverbial wolf from the door. Thankfully, Dad made a full recovery and went on to enjoy great success within his chosen profession. But it could all have been much worse. In recent years, low interest rates have been kind to many borrowers. But, worryingly, they have also encouraged a mini consumer debt boom that could come back to haunt many borrowers if rates start ratcheting up again.
If such a scenario pans out, debt problems among borrowers would magnify, bringing with them associated stress, anxiety and mental illness issues. As a society, we need to ensure there are people and sources of help out there to assist people caught in a debt trap they feel they cannot escape from. There are some great organisations willing and able to help those troubled by money issues – the likes of Citizens Advice, charity StepChange and National Debtline. The magnificent work of mental health charity MIND can also not be underestimated. The National Health Service and Money Advice Service have now combined forces to launch a useful online tool that helps people assess whether financial issues are affecting their health – and then goes on to provide some useful tips on how to fight back.
financial difficulties and get out of debt. Although it is still early days, the Institute is an obvious force for good, raising awareness of the intrinsic link between money problems and mental illness. As its own research reveals, more than three million people in the UK are suffering from both mental health issues and financial difficulties. Of course, this expanding network of help for those grappling with mental health problems is a fantastic development. But we must not relax. We need to continue to encourage banks and lenders to be more understanding. Especially when the inevitable hard economic times come.
Martin Lewis OBE, one of the country’s leading money gurus, is doing some splendid work in the area of mental illness. He has produced the MoneySavingExpert guide to Mental Health & Debt which is a mine of useful information. Last year, he also funded the launch of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute whose aim is a laudatory one. It is working with banks, lenders, regulators, health service providers and government to help people suffering from mental illness protect themselves from
Jeff Prestridge is a Distinguished Alumnus and Personal Finance Editor of The Mail on Sunday. He can be contacted via Twitter @jeffprestridge 39
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69150 C&PS July17
Loughborough University School of Business and Economics