Workplace wellbeing: how healthy people create a healthier business
Updated: Jun 12
How would you rate the wellbeing of your employees?
I’m not just talking about how many of them cycle to work, what they eat for lunch, or the amount of sleep they get a night – though wellness like this is obviously of paramount importance.
In Culture Amp’s latest report, wellbeing is defined as: “A holistic understanding of someone’s physical, emotional, mental and social state. It’s more than wellness, which typically focuses on a person’s physical health.”
When people are in a good state of wellbeing at work, it has countless benefits, not just for employees themselves but for employers like you too.
In fact, actively minimising workplace stress can help reduce staff turnover, foster better decision-making, improve working relationships, boost the quality of work, and empower your staff to provide better customer service.
Healthy people also contribute to a healthy bottom line. HSE found that a total of 12.8 million working days were lost in 2018-19 due to stress, depression and anxiety.
According to research and policy charity the Centre for Mental Health, mental ill-health costs UK employers almost £35bn a year through lost productivity, sickness absence, and staff turnover.
Yet 45% say their workplace does not have anything in place to help support their mental wellbeing, and 24% of line managers believe employee wellbeing is not their responsibility. It’s no wonder in the UK workplace wellbeing is at an all-time low.
During 2020, Champion Health found that 58% of a 2,099-employee sample reported some form of stress at work, while as many as 69% experienced moderate to high stress levels in general.
A recent study by Perkbox revealed that, out of all British adults in employment, 75% commonly experience work-related stress – a concerning 20% increase since 2018.
Nearly two thirds (63%) of individuals experienced at least mild symptoms of anxiety, while 73% said they had struggled to relax.
More worryingly, a staggering 58% of employees said they had experienced at least mild symptoms of depression, with over one in four (26%) reporting symptoms that were moderate to severe.
So, how can you get ahead to improve wellbeing in your workplace and unlock all the benefits this can clearly bring?
1. Understand what wellbeing truly means and what’s in your remit
The fundamental principle of wellbeing at work is that it’s… well, at work.
Focus on areas that are actionable within the context of the workplace, investigating and assessing things like your company’s commitment to wellbeing, your cultural norms, manager support, and any programs or initiatives you currently have in place.
2. Set goals that are honest and genuine
Indeed, wellbeing initiatives can naturally improve productivity and performance. But setting employee wellbeing as the aim itself guarantees your initiatives will be well-received and used to their fullest.
Demonstrate genuine care for your people’s mental and emotional needs – your efforts will seem disingenuous if you start out simply looking for an uplift in your financials.
I’d also recommend choosing some tangible goals that will allow you to measure the success of your program, considering how optimum wellbeing will look for your business. Employee wellbeing surveys can really help here.
3. Make wellbeing an innate part of your culture
Free fruit, yoga classes, gym memberships or massages are all fantastic perks. But offering these alone doesn’t provide a holistic approach to employee wellbeing.
Instead of ticking checkboxes, integrate wellbeing into how you make decisions, structure your team, and treat your people from onboard to exit.
And start from the top. Leadership plays a crucial role in demonstrating desired behaviours and new program adoption. When your employees see the senior management team attending mindfulness sessions, logging off at 5:30pm, and taking all their annual leave without judgment, they’ll be more inclined to do the same.
4. Proactively introduce wellbeing initiatives that offer real value
Don’t wait for those concerning signs of burnout before you put wellbeing initiatives in place.
Talk to your people today about the policies that would most benefit them – whether that’s introducing an online mindfulness program, offering flexible working hours, or bringing in experts to teach them how best to deal with stress.
Everyone’s requirements are different, so don’t make any assumptions. It’s a waste of money putting programs in place that employees don’t need or want, and therefore won’t use.
5. Respect your people’s individual privacy
Speaking of individuality, you must remember employees are people with personal lives and unique barriers that may stop them from participating in workplace wellbeing programs.
Give employees complete access to any data connected to your wellbeing strategy, communicate that participation in any initiative is voluntary, and do your research on how any wellness tools you implement protect confidentiality. It should go without saying, but avoiding exploitation is key.
Culturehood can help you implement a successful employee wellbeing strategy – deeply understanding the current culture of your business and finding simple, cost-effective, measurable methods to build upon this in a way that promotes wellbeing.
Contact me and let’s answer that initial question – how would you rate the wellbeing of your employees? – then improve that rating together.