Category Archives: Latest News

Fostering lifelong learning at life transitions

Research Partner’s Claire Tyers is proud to have helped Learning and Work with their recent report ‘Learning at Life Transitions’, published by the Further Education Trust for Leadership. The report highlights why it is important for women returners and those approaching retirement to engage in lifelong learning along with some of their views about, and experiences of learning. The report has a range of conclusions for policy and practice.

A mid-life review could be the key to encouraging more participation and providers could offer more attractive, flexible and tailored courses to attract older learners. Critical, however, is that policy makers need to support lifelong learning with clearer strategies and with better funding. The benefits for individuals, the economy and society of doing so would be wide ranging and significant. With what funding is available for adult learning focused almost entirely on under 19 year olds, it has never been more important to fight for the rights of older learners. This reports provides a useful starting point for moving the debate forward.

New Business App SmartApprove launched with great potential

If you have to seek approval in your work, whether that’s for a train ticket or a million pound project, it can be frustrating waiting to get sign off from everyone involved.

SmartApprove offers a simple way to make the whole approval process much easier with their new business app. It offers a transparent way to create a collaborative approval process that also centrally logs everyone’s responses and gives them automatic email updates.

A Brighton based company, like Research Partners, we’ve worked with them to develop business case templates based on established project management principles and we’re really proud of the results.

Find out more

New briefing on Strengths Based Social Care for children, young people and their families

A new briefing by the Social Care Institute for Excellence describes how Strengths Based Approaches (SBAs) work and assesses their effectiveness. The values and principles that inform this approach are not new, but they have attracted a rapidly growing interest over the last five years.

A strengths-based approach (SBA) to social care focuses on identifying the strengths, or assets, as well as the needs and difficulties of children, young people and families. These approaches are also about co-production – people providing care working in equal partnership with those who need it to design and deliver services.

A strengths-based approach to care, support and inclusion says let’s look first at what people can do with their skills and their resources and what can the people around them do in their relationships and their communities. People need to be seen as more than just their care needs – they need to be experts and in charge of their own lives. Alex Fox, OBE, Chief Executive, Shared Lives Plus

Find out more at SCIE briefing.

Mind finds employees are staying silent on poor mental health

74 organisations that took part in Mind’s latest Workplace Wellbeing Index, a benchmark of best policy and practice which celebrates the work employers are doing to promote and support positive mental health.

Findings show that:

  • More than eight in ten people (84 per cent) would continue to go to work when experiencing poor mental health while only just over half (58 per cent) would go to work when experiencing poor physical health
  • Only two fifths (42 per cent) of all employees surveyed felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with poor mental health
  • A fifth (21 per cent) of all respondents feel that their current workload is unmanageable

Employers taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index are aiming to create a culture where staff feel able to talk openly about their mental health. Encouragingly this year two thirds (61 per cent) of employers taking part in the Index intend to increase spend on workplace wellbeing activities to create a more positive and open culture.

You can find out more at Mind’s website.

Establishing the ‘real’ causes of long-term sickness absence

Exclusive joint research from The At Work Partnership and the Work Foundation provides concrete evidence that the reason someone takes long-term sickness absence and remains off sick, isn’t just down to the diagnosis given on the fit note or sick certificate.

This biopsychosocial survey of long-term sickness absence demonstrates that while the initial diagnosis is relevant in triggering the initial absence other factors are often involved.  Importantly, ‘psychosocial’ factors – such as the employee believing their ill health is caused or made worse by work, poor support from the manager and disciplinary issues – are also important in triggering and prolonging the absence.

Stress and mental health were the most common reasons for long-term sickness absence referrals to occupational health, followed by combined musculoskeletal and stress/mental health conditions. Musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain were the third most common reason for long-term sickness absence referrals to OH.


Report co-author Dr John Ballard said: ‘The findings reported in our exclusive survey confirm that the causes of long-term sickness absence can be complex and that multiple medical and psychosocial issues need to be considered in its management.’

Further details about this research can be found on The At Work Partnership’s website.

CIPD launches first comprehensive measure of job quality in the UK

Over-worked managers and under-supported staff cast a shadow over workforce happiness according to new research by the CIPD.

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has today launched the UK Working Lives survey, which seeks to establish how good job quality is in the UK.  This new and comprehensive annual survey looks at seven dimensions of job quality gathered from widespread research and measures how important each one is to people in work.

The analysis of the seven dimensions that affect job quality also shows that improving the elements of work that most impact workers well-being has a greater effect on job quality than any of the other factors. The CIPD believes that organisations who are looking for the first step in improving job quality in their own workplaces would be wise to look at well-being as a starting point.

Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, said:

“In terms of overall solutions, the message is clear: healthy workers are happy and productive workers. If there’s one ultimate aim in job quality it should be to improve the well-being of our workers.”

Further details on the research can be found at:


Strengths based conversations get A* in improving performance

CIPD have recently completed an organisational field trial showing what difference strengths-based performance conversations can make in the UK public sector. Working with three UK government employers, they conducted a group randomised trial of an intervention to embed a strengths-based approach to performance management.

This research shows that interventions promoting strengths-based performance conversations can have a measurable impact on what conversations take place between managers and their staff, and on the usefulness of one-to-one meetings for employees’ learning and development and performance. Specifically, a one-off half-day training workshop for line managers had an impact on employee performance; and an impact on employee learning and development seems to require a more extensive, holistic intervention that includes further training, communication and practical guidance and a change in policy on performance management.

This report also provides an example of how robust, contextualised and useful research can be conducted into people management practices. HR and people development needs more research of this nature if it is to become a truly evidence based profession.

Research Partners were proud to work with the CIPD on this project.

Improving people’s experience in adult social care services: NICE guidlines

NICE have produce guidelines that cover the care and support of adults receiving social care in their own homes, residential care and community settings. It aims to help people understand what care they can expect and to improve their experience by supporting them to make decisions about their care.

The guidance is aimed at: practitioners working in adult social care services in all settings; service managers and providers of adult social care services; commissioners of adult social care services, and; people using services (including those who fund their own care) and their families, carers and advocates.

Full details can be found here.

Nearly half of US jobs at risk of computerisaion

Research by Oxford University estimates that 47% of jobs in the US are “at risk” of being automated in the next 20 years. This research found that jobs in transportation, logistics, as well as office and administrative support, are at “high risk” of automation. Occupations within the service industry are also highly susceptible, despite recent job growth in this sector.

Dr Osborne, one of the reports authors said: “We identified several key bottlenecks currently preventing occupations being automated. As big data helps to overcome these obstacles, a great number of jobs will be put at risk”.

The study examined over 700 detailed occupation types, noting the types of tasks workers perform and the skills required. By weighting these factors, as well as the engineering obstacles currently preventing computerisation, the researchers assessed the degree to which these occupations may be automated in the coming decades.

Dr Frey, the other author, highlighted that the United Kingdom is expected to face a similar challenge to the US. He said: “While our analysis was based on detailed datasets relating to US occupations, the implications are likely to extend to employment in the UK and other developed countries”.

Full version of the paper.

Record numbers of people search for care homes

The UK has seen a record number of people search for a care home in January, with over 1.5m visiting the leading care home reviews site at the beginning of this year, according to Care Home UK in an article by Sue Learner.

January 2018 saw have its highest ever traffic to the site with 1,579,285 visits. This was up from 1,144,572 in December, with an increase of 38 per cent.

Davina Ludlow, chair of, said: “The UK has an ever-growing ageing population with people living longer with complex health conditions, so it is no surprise we have seen record traffic this January, showing there is a huge demand for care homes.”

Read the full article on the Care Home UK website.