The value of evidence-based practice within HR and the launch of a free new expert resource
Recently there has been greater recognition of the need for interventions and solutions that get results. This has led to a demand for more evidence-based practice in organisations. At Affinity Health at Work we take an evidence-based approach to all our work and we want to help promote this practice and encourage its application.
What is evidence-based practice?
Evidence-based practice involves ‘making decisions through the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of four sources of information’ (Briner et al., 2009, p.19). Information should be gathered from four sources:
The best available evaluated research evidence e.g. literature reviews of academic or practitioner research or case studies
Evidence from the local context e.g. data gathered from the organisation
Practitioner expertise and judgement e.g the judgment and experience of experts in the field
Stakeholder preferences/values e.g. interviews, focus groups with the relevant stakeholders, for instance HR and Occupational Health (it may not be possible to gather these insights through the other three types of evidence)
When using this approach to answer a question or business need, instead of relying on purely evidence, such as previous work or upon academic literature, instead, a broader approach to data gathering would be taken. The data from each source would then be subjected to a range of quality criteria and subsequently decisions and actions would be made on the basis of the analysis.
Taking an evidence-based approach increases the likelihood of outputs being developed that are both useful and applicable. Additionally, as it uses the strengths of both academic and practitioner approaches, it enables a broader perspective to be taken.
Affinity Health and Wellbeing Hub
However, we know that it is difficult for HR practitioners to always take an evidence- based approach due to three main issues:
A proliferation of evidence meaning that there isn’t enough time to read and prioritise all available evidence
Accessibility (academic evidence exists within academic journals that are often not accessible to practitioners; practitioner evidence is often held within the organisation or institution where it was created and therefore not accessible to all)
Interpretation (the difficulty of cutting through the language in terms of both academic and practitioner literature)
Our aim is to support practitioners in being able to take an evidence-based approach and we believe that any knowledge, tools and guidance that results from our research and work should be freely available to all. Therefore we are creating the Affinity Work Health and Wellbeing Hub which we are launching in March 2017. It is a unique, free to access, expert resource for those that are interested in workplace health and wellbeing e.g. practitioners, academics and students. It will:
Provide a bridge between research and practice in the field of workplace health and wellbeing
Enable practitioners to access current evidence-based literature and tools presented in a concise and accessible way
Provide an accessible and rigorous alternative to academic journals for those wanting to understand the latest academic research, models and findings
Create a forum for publishing rigorous evidence-based practitioner literature
Enable organisations to showcase examples of best
Currently we have populated three topics: stress, common mental health problems and mental health discrimination and we are in the process of populating obesity. We are very grateful to our sponsors who have so far enabled the Hub to be developed but in order to grow the Hub we are looking for more organisations to provide sponsorship. If you are interested in being involved, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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To watch a short animation about the Hub: https://youtu.be/8_ 9wga6E8dY
By Kate Godfree Independent Business Psychologist and PhD student