National Well Being

A while back I switched over to Engineered Marketing for my marketing/business related posts, which leaves me this blog for other things.

One thing I’ve been becoming more interested in is politics, since becoming a home owner and a father I’ve started to become more concerned with how our politicians run our country. I’m kind of between parties at the moment after previously voting Conservative I’ve begun to go off them, this is largely because they have made a lot of decisions that I believe to be immoral.

Happiness Is More Important Than GDP

With that said, I watched David Cameron’s TED talk before he came in power, and what he said was very interesting, and I hope he starts to actually do it, although I imagine “politics” will prevent him doing so. For those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s below, in summary he says that we should concentrate on people’s happiness and well being as metrics and not GDP. Totally right.

The Main Issues (as I see it)

So in the last 2 years they have been measuring national well being, you can see the May 2013 national well being release here. There are a couple of things on there that I want to point out and discuss, and these are:

  • Only 60.9% are somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their amount of leisure time.
  • 36% of adults participate in 30 mins of moderate intensity sport, once per week (just once, whereas it should be at least 3 times per week).
  • 78.5% of people are Somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their job (leaving 21.15% not happy in their job, more than 1 in 5).
  • 65.6% of people are somewhat, mostly or completely satisfied with their health (increasing the strain on the NHS).
  • 18.4% show some evidence indicating probable psychological disturbance or mental ill health (nearly 1 in 5!).
  • Only 60.1% rated their anxiety “yesterday” as medium/low (so 2 in 5 appear to be experiencing high anxiety levels).

Now to me, I believe, that these are all linked in some way.

So here are a few of the things I think could be considered:

Make It Easier For People Of All Ages To Switch Careers

Many people are unsatisfied with their jobs (around 2 in 5), why don’t we make it easier for people to change careers, not just those that are 25 years old or younger. Apprenticeships should be available to older people as well.

If we make it easier for people to switch careers then we are likely to find more people satisfied in their job.

Reduce Working Hours

Why can’t we reduce working hours? Apparently, according to an EU study, after 37 hours per week any increase in working hours by 1% leads to a decrease in productivity of 0.9%, practically cancelling out any increase in productivity. Interestingly, it has also been found that a decrease in working hours does lead to an increase in productivity. France decreased their working hours to a maximum of 35 hours per week, the rest being overtime. They appear to be doing about as well as we are currently in nearly all the economic metrics that I looked at, but I believe the French are probably happier (from personal experience). This publication recommends a 21 hour week, imagine what else you could do with your time!!! With the time saved people will most likely:

  • Be more satisfied in their job (although not a massive increase I think this would increase)
  • Experience less anxiety and stress
  • Will have more leisure time
  • Will have the opportunity to do more exercise if they wish (I currently exercise 5 times a week, but it’s still a real battle with all the other responsibilities I have).
  • Will have more time to recover from the physical stresses of work, such as sitting down all day, doing repetitive work or manual tasks.

Tax Relief For Fitness Classes, Gyms And Personal Trainers

For any money you spend on going to the gym, fitness classes and personal training, provide tax relief. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your health, by providing tax relief on these types of things it’ll help grow the fitness industry and it will also reduce the strain on the NHS (which is reactive, not proactive). Exercise is also proven to reduce stress and depression, so it would help improve some of the other national well being metrics.

Labour Need To Embrace This, Not Ridicule It

Labour, according to the BBC, ridiculed the national well being survey as “statement of the bleeding obvious”, which I think is a backwards step, I think it would be great for politicians to make decisions based on this survey rather than their “gut feeling”, which usually leads to all kinds of mistakes. I think if Labour changed their approach and started looking at this survey more closely they will find the policies they need to win the next election. Hell it beats asking stupid questions such as “Why I’m Labour” (my God, if you don’t know who you are, how can I state that I agree with your beliefs!!!)