Workplace wellbeing has been a business buzzword for some time now, catapulted into the spotlight thanks to the normalisation of mental health in recent years. It’s become a core part of many human resources departments and most companies have since rolled out workplace wellbeing initiatives. Whether they have been successful or not, however, is another question. 

The world of work and employee needs are constantly changing, meaning that wellbeing initiatives need to evolve with them – with this past year being the clearest indication of that fact. Promoting workplace wellbeing and successfully doing so are two very different things, and with the unique set of circumstances we find ourselves in 2021, a standard wellbeing initiative simply won’t cut it. You can successfully promote workplace wellbeing in 2021 by ensuring that it is relevant, personalised and impactful.

What does workplace wellbeing encompass?

Workplace wellbeing embodies any conscious effort or activities designed to support healthy behaviour in the workplace and improve employee health outcomes. Often, workplace wellbeing initiatives include activities such as:

  • Mindfulness and meditation 
  • Fitness activities such as yoga and gym memberships
  • Speaker events to support mental health and wellbeing
  • Activities to encourage healthy lifestyles such as walking meetings and providing fruit in the office

These activities share the overall aim of boosting work satisfaction and combating workplace stress – which a huge 79% of Britons suffer from.

Why workplace wellness and staff wellbeing is important

We all know that people are the greatest asset a company has, and a workplace wellbeing initiative works to support and nurture that asset. When employee satisfaction is boosted, everyone produces their best work, making workplace wellbeing a win-win for employees and employers alike. 

It also gives employers a chance to follow through on their responsibility of contributing positively to their employees’ growth and development, as the tools that workplace wellbeing initiatives provide are transferable to other areas of our lives.

Promoting workplace wellness from home

Working from home is now a norm for the vast majority of companies, but employee wellness needs have changed since the shift to remote working, meaning wellness programs must evolve too. Some practices that work in an office are rendered ineffective with everyone working remotely, such as providing fresh fruit or healthy snacks to staff in the office and will need tweaking in the context of working from home.

How remote working has impacted staff wellbeing

Working from home has affected our lives in both good and bad ways. Whilst we spent the first few months of the pandemic revelling in the novelty of commute-free mornings and longer evenings, this soon wore off quicker than expected. Many people found those “bonus” few hours disappearing into their workday as workloads increased with several teams being forced to downsize and furlough staff. 

The expectation and pressure to keep up with the same or increased workload whilst dealing with the mental and emotional strain of living through a global pandemic, has become a source of stress for many this past year. In particular, UK workers being the most likely to say that the coronavirus has impacted their mental health in a negative way. The effects on our mental health of having to worry about family members’ health and safety on top of work stress have been increasingly forgotten, which only highlights the importance of workplace wellbeing in the context of the coronavirus pandemic too.

How to craft a successful wellbeing strategy

When it comes to creating a strategy to support your employees, there are a lot of different options. Wellbeing is an extremely broad topic that encompasses mental health, physical wellbeing, emotional support and more, so it can be difficult to know where to start. In order to create a program that will successfully support your team, it needs to have them in mind from the get go, so make sure you start there.

Start with your team

Each team is unique and will come with its own set of personalities, experiences and needs, meaning that no workplace wellness program will be quite the same either. The nature of each business and its workload, budget and culture also vary, so your wellbeing strategy will need to reflect, and maybe even challenge, this too. 

Work out what your team needs

Interview your team or carry out a wellbeing survey to decipher what their needs and pain points are, and then your workplace wellbeing initiative can be built around them. A successful program will enhance staff wellbeing and give them the tools to solve their problems, so knowing what your wellbeing program is aiming to achieve will keep it directed and focused. 

Cater wellbeing practices to each individual

The best workplace wellbeing initiatives will offer a flexible and customised approach to each employee. This means offering a range of different activities and options that each employee can choose to take part in. Keep this in mind when deciding what activities to include in your program.

Implementing workplace wellbeing initiatives

Creating a useful wellbeing initiative is only half the battle, because to successfully promote workplace wellbeing, you need it to be impactful. The implementation process is what will truly deliver value to your organisation and team, and here are a few tips on how to do it. 

It needs to come from the top

Team members in leadership roles have a crucial role to play in setting an example for your wellbeing program and encouraging staff to use it. Seeing management actively taking part in and encouraging others to utilise workplace wellbeing initiatives will mean that employees will feel more comfortable taking some time out of their day to do activities that support wellbeing. 

Make wellness a part of your employees’ work schedules

Encourage your employees to schedule time into their diaries for wellbeing activities, or organise team sessions to ensure that time is being carved out for wellbeing. With so many of us busier than ever working from home, it’s often the case that if something isn’t in the diary then it gets forgotten about. Companies can show their commitment to employee wellbeing by ensuring that every team member is afforded the opportunity to prioritise their mental wellbeing. 

Organise one-to-one check-ins

Isolation is one of the main contributors to workplace stress and more prevalent than ever with remote working, so scheduling in one-to-one check-ins with employees allows managers to grasp how they are feeling and whether they need any extra support. This is also an opportunity to get some valuable feedback on your wellbeing program and make any changes. 

Keep reviewing your program

A workplace wellness initiative should be an ever-evolving program, and something that you revisit and improve regularly to reflect the changing needs of your team. Regular reviews and gathering and implementing feedback from employees will keep your program relevant and deliver the most impact to them.

Boosting staff wellbeing is in everyone’s best interests

Making a commitment to bettering staff wellbeing boasts a wealth of benefits for everyone in your organisation, and will boost your company’s performance too. Whether you have an existing program in place that could do with a refresh, or are in need of a wellbeing strategy, it’s in everyone’s best interests to invest in workplace wellbeing this year.

Henna Amin, Copywriter