"Well-being, social support + renewal at work- Insights from the 'sustainable work' research program"

25th Jul 2013

Professor John Buchanan
Sydney Health and Work Research Network (SHWRN) Leader
Director, Workplace Research Centre, University of Sydney Business School

Before his appointment as director of the WRC John held the position of Director of Policy Research in the Commonwealth Department of Industrial Relations. He has conducted research in the areas of micro-economic reform, local employment initiatives, performance pay, executive remuneration and the industrial relations system. John has also worked for the trade union movement as a researcher, examining the nature of operation of performance pay systems. He was part of the project team that undertook the first Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey (AWIRS). His primary research interest is in how organisations respond to changes in the external economic and policy environment. In recent years John's research interests have focused on changes associated with the demise of the classical wage earner model of employment. He is especially interested in new approaches to integrating industrial relations, social and economic policies to achieve simultaneous improvements in productivity and fairness.

Response from Network Member;

Dr. Diane van den Broek
Discipline of Work and Organisation Studies,
University of Sydney Business School


The Second in the series of 'Conversations on Health and Business' featured Professor John Buchanan of the Work Research Centre initiate the conversation with the theme of "Work as a source of well being, social support and renewal" (especially during key life course transitions). His talk elaborated on the central idea of 'sustainable' work. In a period where people are spending more time than ever before at work he emphasised the need to make workplaces the source of well-being. He identified the physiological as well as social effects of work and pointed out the 'sites' where interventions to develop this sustainable and healthful work environment might be. He emphasised the social structures of support as being key to creating this sustainable workplace. Dr. van den Broek from Work and Organisational Studies, responded asking if some workplaces and workers were more subject to anxiety and stress than others. She used the example of casualized and contract workers such as in the aged care sector and asked how the 'sustainable workplace model' could be implemented in those sites. The animated discussion around the table centred on the possibility of implementing such a model within structural and economic systems that prioritize profits over worker welfare and were indeed 'rewarded' for doing so. Participants form the Marketing Discipline, the Work place Research Centre, Work and Organisational Studies and corporate members of the Network offered comments and ideas.