REF2014 Impact Case Study: Improving the wellbeing of employees by assessing and enhancing quality of working life

Impact: Health & Welfare Impacts, Public Policy Impacts, Societal Impacts

Description of impact

The research and data provided by the Quality of Working Life (QoWL®) team at the University of Portsmouth also now forms a significant element of the UK Government’s definition and approach to tackling organisational stress. The WRQoL® scale is available in 11 languages and 50+ countries, and is directly and indirectly saving organisations thousands of pounds and helping contributing to the improved wellbeing of millions of employees.

Who is affected

National organisations and professional body; UK universities; NHS Trusts; Trade Unions; schools.


The Work-Related Quality of Life (WRQoL) scale was developed out of staff surveys for a large number of organisations including NHS trust, schools, universities, police forces and other national organisations. By linking 'real-world' survey data with the theoretical literature on the quality of working life, the WRQoL scale was developed. The WRQoL scale is the psychometrically strongest measure of Quality of Working Life (QoWL) and has a six factor structure: general well-being, home-work interface, job and career satisfaction, control at work, working conditions and stress at work. This research was undertaken at the same time that the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was developing its Management Standards Stress Scale and the Portsmouth team were invited to collaborate using their methodology to assess the quality of life in relation to stress in the workplace.

A large scale survey with responses from over 2500 staff from four universities enabled WRQoL to be further tested.

At a national level, impact of the WRQoL is reflected in Health and Safety law. The HSE Management Standards psychometric scale and stress-intervention procedure has been in place sine 2008 to help managers deal with work-stress related issues. An estimated 17000organisations, including 80% of local government authorities have used this scale.

At an organisational level, WRQoL based QoWL staff surveys have been used by HR departments to improve organisational satisfaction and to enhance the working life of employees. The impacts have been in organisational change that has result, for example, in decreases in annual sick absences- thus providing economic and commercial impacts in relation to increased staff productivity and benefits relating to flexible working.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactHealth & Welfare Impacts, Public Policy Impacts, Societal Impacts
Impact levelAdoption (implementation stage)


  • REF2014