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Measuring what works: workplace well-being of project professionals

What is the research?

Although workplace well-being has been regarded as a strong indicator of work performance, very limited research has focused on studying the well-being levels of project professionals (PPs) who are responsible for delivering projects, programmes and portfolios of strategic importance to organisations in all industries (Cui et al., 2016). The better PPs and their teams perform, the better organisations are able to deliver on strategy.

To address this knowledge gap, this international collaborative study proposes the following research questions:

  1. What are current levels of PPs’ workplace well-being?
  2. What factors contribute to PPs’ workplace well-being?
  3. What interventions could be introduced to improve PPs’ workplace well-being?

Why is it important?

In recent years, nations around the world have recognised that economics plus well-being is the more fulsome measure of success because measuring well-being provides a sufficiently detailed picture of the living conditions that people experience (OECD, 2017). Impaired well-being, both physical and psychological, costs the UK economy up to £57 billion a year in lost productivity through a combination of absenteeism, i.e. employees not being at work, and presenteeism, i.e. employees at work but working at a sub-optimal level (Miller and Suff, 2016). The Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills published a comprehensive report that concluded employees’ wellbeing has a significant impact on workplace performance such as work attitudes and productivity (Bryson et al., 2014). 

Who is the intended audience?

The research is targeted at project professionals, recruiters and HR and those with an interest in the workplace well-being of project professionals.

How can I take part in the research or find out more?

We hope you will take this opportunity to help us make a real difference to your own well-being by taking part in the survey below which should take around 15 minutes to complete. Your responses are strictly confidential.

If you have any questions or concerns about the study, please contact Dr Clara Cheung via   

What are the benefits in taking part?

APM is committed to its mission: inspiring communities to deliver meaningful change for societal benefits. The study supports this mission by supporting PPs in building workplace wellbeing for the profession, which is currently overlooked and could inspires positive changes in the society. By establishing a PPs specific baseline for well-being, this study allows the profession to assess the current well-being state of the PPs’ workplace, identify key factors which influence their well-being, and ultimately design project management specific interventions to enhance PPs’ workplace well-being.

This study aims to provide a new lens to improve project performance. Research traditionally concentrates on PPs’ technical skills and competencies to enhance project performance (e.g., Müller & Turner, 2010). These are necessary, but not sufficient skills, for PPs. Successful PPs have to be able to create a supportive work environment to assure that every member of their team is able to consistently deliver their best performance. This study provides a new lens to improve project performance through measuring PPs’ workplace wellbeing and identifying factors to enhance PPs’ well-being.

This project aims to convert research findings into practices whilst measuring the impact of the research.

Any other considerations?

The project will handle data confidentially and in accordance with the guidelines imposed by the Research Ethical Review Committee of the University of Manchester. The anonymity of organisations and individuals will be preserved where participants require this.

Who are the research leads?

The research team is a combination of academics and practitioners around the globe with

considerable experience in conducting well-being research and consultancy work.  The team consists of Dr Clara Cheung (University of Manchester), Professor Paul Bowen (University of Cape Town), Professor Keith Cattell (University of Cape Town), and Adjunct Professor Ms Jocelyn Davis (University of Maryland) who is also the President of Nelson Hart LLC, a management consulting firm.

Dr Cheung and Ms Davis recently won the best paper award in the 33rd Annual Association of Researcher in Construction Management (ARCOM) conference for their paper titled Happiness for Project Managers: Framework and Empirical Analysis. Professors Bowen and Cattell recently published a report titled: The State of Well-Being in the Construction Industry for the CIOB with Professor Cooper and Dr Edwards.