Work Stream 1: Optimising Health, Well-Being and Performance in Diverse and Ageing Workforces


Leads: Dr Anna Phillips and Dr Steven Sadhra

This work stream encompasses the development, identification, and evaluation of cost-effective tools and interventions designed to optimise health, well-being and performance particularly those targeted to older workers and those will health conditions.  This is with a view to enable these groups to continue to enjoy work and optimise work engagement for as long as possible and to provide industry partners with tools and strategies to help support employees with health conditions and more generally to support their employees as they grow older.



The Big Questions

  1. What keeps people working, what motivates them to work and how do these influences change as people age?
  2. Are different types of work available to (1) youth and (2) older workers? Which? Why?
  3. How are attitudes and expectations about age, work and retirement changing since the removal of the default retirement age?
  4. How is health associated with presenteeism and which interventions are most suitable to meet the needs of both employees and employers?
  5. How does work impact on health and ways in which employees and employers can be supported to improve work capability for those with chronic health conditions?
  6. What workplace interventions should be designed and implemented to minimise the effect of hazards arising from work activities?

Illustrative project area: Supporting employees to remain in work following a period of ill-health

To identify how individuals can be supported to remain at work and to return to work early after ill health through development of appropriate fitness for work assessment tools.


  • To develop appropriate methods / tools for assessing whether individuals are fit to work for defined job roles;
  • To develop norms of work fitness for different age groups;
  • To identify suitable interventions to  support employees who fail to meet fitness standards.

Knowledge Gap:

The increase in the ageing workforce necessitates an understanding of factors that constitute fitness for work (in its broadest sense) with a view to developing effective interventions to optimise health, wealth and well-being. Through a mapping process, the study will help organisations identify ways of dealing with the increase in ageing workers.

Data sources/sampling/recruitment/methods:

  • Evidence from published literature on fitness assessment tools and their effectiveness.
  • Information held by employers on fitness assessments and outcomes which may involve work place adjustments, training, rehabilitation, relocation or ill health retirement.
  • Job types will be defined across different sectors for evaluation.
  • Each job will be defined by functional requirements e.g. physical and cognitive requirements.
  • Individuals conducting particular jobs, e.g. assembling line operator, will be divided into sub-groups based on their perception of how well they can conduct tasks including any constraints.  The grouping could also be based on those with job restrictions due to current health conditions who can be compared with those with no job restriction i.e. able to perform the job as required.
  • Information will be obtained on occupational histories, sickness absence and in particular any changes due to health /accidents/ injuries.
  • Individuals in the different groups will be assessed using a range of standard tools to define norms for different jobs.
  • Review existing data on relevant policies on work retention (International comparison, e.g., Finland, Holland): which work best and how can they be adapted in a UK context.
  • Qualitative interviews with stakeholders (employees, employers, Trade Union reps) to understand factors constituting fitness to work.


Industry, work design, occupational health, health psychology, social policy, organisational psychology, economics.


Measurement, £.