Workplace Wellbeing The Good, Bad and Ugly

When it comes to workplace wellbeing, it literally comes down to survival of the fittest.

96% of employers see a direct correlation between health, wellbeing and performance, and FTSE companies that prioritise engagement outperform others by at least 10%. 

As more companies embrace workplace wellness, star talent comes to expect it as standard in the workplace. Employers who do not adapt will be left behind.

How does your company compare to other businesses?

Are you leading the way or do you risk being left at the starting line? 


Consider this scenario: 

David is the MD of a medium sized e-commerce business.

Recently he’s noticed a different mood in the office. Despite regular meetings, he finds that some information doesn’t seem to be travelling between teams, which has resulted in duplicated work and oversights. The star of his marketing team just handed in her notice and it’s been hard to recruit a replacement. Making matters worse, his administrator is off sick. 

David isn’t convinced that wellness programmes work, but he’s willing to put some budget towards team-building. He asks his executive assistant to find something ‘fun for the entire team to do’. He doesn’t think to loop in HR to the conversation.


David’s business is a laggard because the approach to wellbeing is:

  1. Not Measured - there is no plan to measure its efficacy

  2. Not Inclusive & Engaging - it does not seek to include HR or tailor to the team

  3. Not Proactive & Preventative - it re-actively tries to fix a problem

  4. Not Responsible & Accountable - there is no team taking charge of the programme

  5. Not Consistent & Coherent - it is one-off, ad-hoc and unstrategic

Why doesn’t this work?

With no clear strategy in place or team to carry it out, this is ‘box-ticking’.

The one-off activity will have very little effect on performance.


Consider this scenario:

Sally runs a large charity.

The staff have a quarterly ‘away day’. The morning covers strategic updates. The afternoon is team-building and doing volunteering, with some physical activity. The day ends with drinks at a local pub.

Sally’s hunch is that this boosts cohesion, but she doesn’t have a framework for measurement to prove it. She’s consulted with the board about introducing office equipment with ergonomic features and is considering a discounted gym membership, but nothing has been decided yet because she doesn’t have a clear vision or business case.


Sally’s business is ambitious on workplace wellbeing because the approach is somewhat: 

  1. Measured - Management believe it boosts performance and it’s the right thing to do

  2. Inclusive & Engaging - it does not have something to engage everyone

  3. Proactive & Preventative - it instinctively tries to address employee needs

  4. Responsible & Accountable - it is an informal effort built across teams

  5. Consistent & Coherent - there are a mix of pre-planned and ad-hoc activities, though never planned >3 months ahead

What needs improvement?

Although Sally’s made a great start, without a formal committee or measurement, workplace wellbeing isn’t built into the backbone of the business and isn’t being utilised efficiently. 


Consider this scenario: 

John works for a digital marketing company.

When he joined, a staff handbook clearly outlined the company’s values and approach to work. John eats and socialises with his colleagues over a free breakfast and lunch, where previously he’d grab a sandwich on the go.

Once a week, John and the rest of staff are invited to fill out a weekly ‘happiness’ survey.

At first, it felt strange to have so much measurement built into his working life, but this came in useful when John had some personal problems that affected his performance. His manager was understanding and advised him to join the free mindfulness sessions and counseling available.

John used to struggle to be physically active but the weekly exercise classes at work gave him more energy and ultimately empowered him to take advantage of work’s discounted gym membership.

Thanks to workplace support, John was overcame his rough patch and was promoted to manager, which means he’s automatically been enrolled on a management course that gives him the tools to be a confident and empathetic team leader. 


While John might be a persona, the digital agency in question does exist, and is a leader in workplace wellbeing because their approach is: 

  1. Measured - Management and the CEO know it boosts performance because it wellbeing s measured and tied directly to employee performance

  2. Inclusive & Engaging - It blends different activities and benefits that are optimised for sustainable behaviour change

  3. Proactive & Preventative - it is based on what employees actually need, now and in the future

  4. Responsible & Accountable - it is organised by a formal wellbeing team, not by prescription from the top

  5. Consistent & Coherent - it is core to company culture and activities are planned >3 months ahead in line with the strategy and calendar

Want to find out what ‘wellbeing excellence’ looks like? Download your free guide: