Book Review: Work Wellbeing by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell

Even the most experienced managers could learn something from 'Work Wellbeing

,' writes Erich Mayer.

On the face of it, there would appear to be little doubt that feeling comfortable, healthy and happy while at work is desirable. But in Work Wellbeing, Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell point out that employee wellbeing is more than desirable – it is essential.

McCrindle and Fell contend that the wellbeing of people at work is of utmost importance, both to employees themselves, and the companies in which they work. In Work Wellbeing, they define wellbeing as the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy, and enumerate the many factors that contribute to employee wellbeing as well as those that might work to the contrary. They discuss what employers should do to ensure their staff enjoy wellbeing; in essence, this book is a manual for employers setting out the ways this can be achieved.

All the opinions and advice in Work Wellbeing are based on the results of worker surveys and focus groups. The relevant  results are quoted in the book so that the reader can understand the weight given to a particular matter. For example, in relation to remote working: 

‘Over two-thirds (68%) [of employees surveyed] stated that the culture and output of a workplace is best when everyone is in one place with a degree of flexibility for teleworking, or when there is time for gathering and working together but also a significant time for working remotely. 

‘Only 4% saw no need for coming together.’

Many of the factors mentioned in the chapter titled ‘Barriers to Work Wellbeing’ will be familiar to unhappy workers. The chapter details workplace issues such as discrimination, harassment and bullying. The authors draw particular attention to the problems caused at work by a ‘psychopath’, whom they describe as a person who is a charming, self-obsessed fluent liar, emotionally manipulative and completely lacking in remorse or guilt.

They also point to the harm done by poor leadership. Many of these points would see ready agreement among employers  – though they might mention that psychopaths are notoriously hard to detect. What some employers may find disturbing is the authors’ findings of the harm done by over-emphasis on the return on investment: ‘Leaders of organisations do need to focus on outcomes, impacts and financials for their organisations to exist, but if that is the only thing they focus on it can lead to demotivated, uninspired and disengaged workers.’

The authors are great advocates of good teamwork. They refer to an experiment in which each of three people was asked to pull as hard as they could on a rope. The three were then asked to pull on the same rope together. The result: their combined pulling power exceeded the sum of the three individual pulls. While simplistic illustrations of this kind don’t actually prove anything, they lend some authority to the phenomenon under discussion.

Not least, the importance of good leadership emerges once again; it is frequently the focus of much management literature, and rightly so. In the answer to the survey question ‘In your workplace, which of the following are blockers to you thriving at work?’ seven of the ten top blockers named were directly related to leadership failures.

Even good and experienced managers could learn something from reading Work Wellbeing, and MBA students may well find it listed as recommended reading. Those who read it will not be disappointed.

4 stars ★★★★

Work Wellbeing by Mark McCrindle and Ashley Fell
Publisher: Rockpool Publishing
ISBN: 9781925924190
Format: Paperback 218pp
Categories: Business, Non-Fiction, Leadership
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 8 July 2020

Erich Mayer
About the Author
Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog