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Workplace Wellbeing Programmmes

Workplace Wellbeing Programmes

How deep do we go? Part 1 – Employers


Let’s cut to the chase….you want to know what the bottom line is, right?

How is a workplace wellbeing programme going to increase overall profit? And what is your return on investment (ROI)?

Not wanting to be too dry, here are a few facts and figures:

Workplace wellbeing interventions generate a ROI of between £1.50-£9 for every £1 invested; the average being £4 for every £1 invested (yes you read that right, cool hey?).

Organisation-wide preventative activities which improve employee resilience can achieve a higher ROI than reactive individual-focused activities and programmes that include stress management and health seminars, with tailored support have the biggest ROI at £9 for every £1 invested.
(Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers, 2017).

This is impressive stuff and that’s not all;

FTSE 100 companies that prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing, out perform the rest of the FTSE 100 by an average of 10% (The Workforce View in Europe 2018).

Money and profit are of course important measures of a successful business, however the happiness of your employees is also a meaningful indicator. Mary Portas in her book Work Like a Woman (2018) points this out ‘companies can now be ranked on the happiness of their workers…….what’s the point of a nation, a company or a person being financially wealthy but miserable as sin?’ p.98

Positive Workplace Culture

Seemingly, employers that support emotional and physical wellbeing, have a culture of openness, acceptance and awareness and create a feeling of inclusion. The benefit from this shows up in many ways, not least having a happier workforce.

Some of the biggest obstacles to happiness are feeling inferior or excluded (The Happiness Research Institute, 2017). If you want your workforce to really ‘show up’ at work, create a happier place to work in; investing in wellbeing programmes can make a significant difference.

Wellbeing activities can include awareness raising and promoting a positive culture particularly around mental health. Research shows that whilst many employers offer reactive support, providing more proactive and early stage preventative support may deliver a better average ROI.

Benefits of Workplace Wellbeing

No doubt this is stating the obvious but other reported benefits of investing in wellbeing in the workplace are:

·          Better employee morale and engagement
·          Healthier employees
·          Lower sickness absence
·          Better attraction and retention of talent
·          Reduction in staff turnover and the associated costs
·          Improved productivity

All this adds up to increased financial performance and quality people with high morale and a happier culture.

Sickness Absence

The figures around sickness absence are immense and let’s face it a bit tedious to read but indulge me by paying attention to the following, as this is affecting real people in your workplace.

An average London based business of 250 employees loses around £250,000 a year due to ill health (GLA Economics; London business case for employee health and wellbeing 2012).

Plus mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1035 per employee per year (The Workforce View in Europe 2018).

You get the idea; there is a great opportunity here for employers to not only achieve a better return on investment by providing and embedding wellbeing interventions into the organisational culture but to show that they really care for their employees too.

Commitment From The Top


Saying that, you have to show commitment from the top; leading by example will highlight wellbeing as being essential in the business not a ‘nice to have’.

Some employees may need encouragement to sign up, so it’s important that wellbeing is not presented as an extra task to add into their working day. Instead, actively seed ideas from the bottom up, collaborate with your employees about wellbeing activities being implemented in the workplace.

Think of it in terms of employees being aligned and integrated in the business values and policies, rather than wellbeing just being an add on or a reactive service.

You want to enable your employees to thrive by being proactive, rather than intervening at very late stages.

It is your duty as employers to provide the basic policies:

·          Promote Health and Safety
·          Reduce stress in the workplace
·          Adequate training and development
·          Good pay and remuneration, working hours and conditions of employment
·          Create a positive work culture
·          Offer confidential counselling where necessary
·          Set up Employee Assistant Programmes (EAP)
·          Sign post to services e.g. EAP

How that manifests in your particular workplace might be different to other workplaces. Any wellbeing service has to fit the business environment and there needs to be cultural readiness and commitment.

Evaluating Workplace Wellbeing Services

If you are interested in measuring wellbeing services in your workplace, objectives need to be set at the start and ideally a commitment to measurements over time.

Measurements of change can include:

·          Employee engagement and feedback (questionnaires, focus groups)
·          Take up of service
·          Metrics (email open rates, intranet hits, evaluation forms)
·          Productivity
·          Established KPI’s
·          Absence/sickness rates

Attract Talent

So, if you want to attract talent, you need to have a wellbeing policy, it’s as simple as that.

Potential employees are asking what wellbeing/mental health policies a business has in place before accepting a job offer, it has become an important consideration in deciding where to work.

There is a duty to care for your employees, particularly around mental health issues. It’s not all about what you can ‘get out’ of your employees, it’s also about giving back, contributing and connecting. This fits into the New Economics Foundation (NEF) view of 5 Ways to Wellbeing:


1.      Connect
2.      Be active
3.      Take notice
4.      Keep learning
5.      Give

Even if the research wasn’t unequivocal, we’re all humans on this bus of life and we can all suffer varying degrees of mental instability and physical ill health.

Since your employees spend around half of their waking time in your workplace, surely it makes sense to have wellbeing policies and activities as standard practice.