Wellbeing research - Museums Association

Wellbeing research

Research to shape our future campaigning on workforce wellbeing

We are committed to creating inclusive and diverse museums that prioritise fair working conditions and workforce and community wellbeing. 

In summer 2022 we carried out sector-wide research into workforce wellbeing with the following aims: 

  1. To identify the current picture of individual wellbeing within the workforce, understanding the wellbeing of all colleagues – volunteers, freelancers, and employees.
  2. To identify factors at an individual, organisational and sector level that affect our individual wellbeing.
  3. To identify ideas and priorities for action to positively effect change within the sector for all – volunteers, freelancers, and employees.

We had a high response rate with 658 responses. Thank you to everyone that took part.

We are using this information to explore these experiences with stakeholders, including a dedicated session at our annual conference for example, helping us shape our future resources and campaigning on workforce wellbeing.

Preliminary findings: life and work satisfaction

Life satisfaction 

We asked respondents to rate their life satisfaction, on a rating scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). 

  • The majority of respondents reported good life satisfaction, selecting six or above.
  • However, approximately a third of all respondents reported lower life satisfaction, selecting five or below, with 7% of respondents selecting significantly low life satisfaction.
Work satisfaction 

We asked respondents to rate their work satisfaction, on a rating scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). 

  • More than half of all respondents reported less good work satisfaction, five or below, with 34% of respondents reporting significantly low work satisfaction.
  • Positive work satisfaction was also reported, with 41% reporting six or above, and there are clear factors positively contributing to this, for example an empathetic manager, a supportive team and engaging job content.

Early reflections: life and work satisfaction

  • The workforce has higher life satisfaction than work satisfaction. 
  • This may challenge the notion that if you are less satisfied in one domain of your life you are likely to be less satisfied in others. 
  • As part of this we need may need to reflect on flow from one domain to another – for example, how many would report higher life satisfaction if their experience of work was more positive and their work satisfaction higher? 

Preliminary findings: organisational commitment

Organisational commitment to workforce wellbeing  

We asked respondents to reflect on their sense and experience in the workplace, from policy to practice, from line managers to colleagues. 

  • More than a third of respondents felt cared for and described their organisation prioritising workforce wellbeing. 
  • Equally, a third of respondents didn’t feel cared for or that workforce wellbeing was prioritised in their organisation.
  • Respondents were more likely, over 50%, to have a positive experience of wellbeing at team level, with line managers and colleagues contributing to this positive experience.
  • However, within this there was still a minority which did not feel that was the case.
Organisational support for those working with communities  

We were particularly interested in the experience of volunteers, freelancers and employees working directly with communities.

Museums work with diverse groups on different projects, and our staff may find themselves supporting, or experiencing by proxy, significant challenges.

We asked respondents to reflect on the support they receive from their organisation.

We were specifically interested in the extent to which additional or targeted support is made available to those working with communities, for example access to therapeutic services or other supervision opportunities. 

  • More than a third of respondents described having policies and practices in place to support the wellbeing for those working with communities. 
  • A similar number of respondents said there were no policies or practices in place to support those undertaking this work.
  • Whilst training and development was available for some, more respondents didn’t receive training than those that did. 
  • Over a third of respondents did not having access to specific training and development to support their practice.
  • While a third of respondents did have access to internal or external support and supervision, equally a third of respondents had no access to specialised support.

Early reflections: organisational commitment 

  • There are clear gaps in terms of wellbeing policies, practices, training and support across the sector.
  • More than a third of respondents felt their organisation did not care about or prioritise their wellbeing. This is an area of concern and will be reflected in our recommendations and campaign priorities. 
  • More respondents felt their organisation cared about their wellbeing rather than prioritised it. This could be a result of how it is delivered, as well as whether budgets and capacity are set aside.
  • Wellbeing was consistently positive at team level, moderated positively by team member and co-worker support, as well as line manager behaviour.
  • Three quarters of respondents felt their line manager cared about their wellbeing – colleagues and line managers have a significant role in creating a wellbeing culture.
  • We were encouraged that over a third of respondents working with communities have access to external support, but equal numbers did not have access to support and this needs to be addressed.
  • As communities face increasing pressures and challenges, including the cost of living crisis, it is even more critical that those delivering services for communities are equipped to support themselves while they support others.
  • Where the workforce doesn’t feel supported in general or equipped to support potential types of community work, we may see this affecting work satisfaction levels, leading to burnout or higher turnover.

Next steps

We will launch the new wellbeing campaign at our one-day conference Come Together: Building Sustainable Community Partnerships on 8 December 2022.

We know that community-facing roles need tailored support because of the complexity and challenges they can face in their work. Better wellbeing for staff in these roles means they can deliver more impact with communities and support community wellbeing. 

If you are interested in the development of the campaign and want to share views or insights, please contact Tamsin Russell, Workforce Development Officer, via tamsin@museumsassociation.org.

For additional resources to support wellbeing please visit our website’s Wellbeing Hub, our cost of living statement, and our Salary Research and Recommendations 2022.

Full research findings and summary analysis of the workforce wellbeing research will be published in December 2022.


Wellbeing Hub

Resources for workforce wellbeing throughout the sector