Workplace wellbeing – it’s a term we’re hearing more frequently, but what does it really mean, and why should small businesses take note?

What is Workplace Wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing refers to the physical, psychological, and social health of employees within a work environment. This encompasses factors like job satisfaction, work-life balance, mental and emotional health, and physical safety. In essence, it’s all about creating a work environment where employees feel valued, supported, and able to do their best work.

Why is Workplace Wellbeing Crucial?

Enhanced Productivity

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), healthy employees are nearly three times more productive than their unhealthy peers[1]. That’s a significant difference and directly impacts the bottom line.

Reduced Absenteeism

Poor health, including stress, can lead to higher levels of absenteeism. In the UK, sickness absences cost businesses an estimated £15 billion annually[2]. By addressing wellbeing, businesses can mitigate these costs.

Improved Staff Retention

When employees feel cared for and appreciated, they’re more likely to stay. With recruitment and training costs high, retaining talent becomes a cost-saving strategy in itself.

Positive Company Image

Focusing on wellbeing can improve your company’s reputation, attracting both clients and top talent. After all, a business that cares for its employees is often perceived as trustworthy and responsible.

Enhanced Creativity and Innovation

A happy and healthy workforce is more likely to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. It’s no wonder that many of the world’s most successful companies place a significant emphasis on employee wellbeing.

5 Cost-effective Wellbeing Initiatives

Flexible Working Hours:

This doesn’t necessarily mean everyone works from home. It could be as simple as shifting work hours to better accommodate an employee’s needs, such as picking up kids from school. According to the CIPD, flexible working arrangements can enhance employee engagement, satisfaction, and reduce stress[1].

Mental Health Support

Consider setting up an employee assistance programme supported by mental health first aider programme or wellbeing champion programme.  Even a simple initiative like regular check-ins can make a difference. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace[3]. By offering support, businesses can reduce related absenteeism and boost overall wellbeing.

Mental health first aiders are not a solution on their own!

Physical Activity Encouragement:

This doesn’t mean buying gym memberships for all employees (although that’s great if you can!). Think about introducing walking meetings, lunchtime yoga sessions, or setting challenges to encourage movement. We all know how ick our body’s feel at the end of a long day having back to back Teams meetings. Research by Public Health England suggests that an average of 131 million working days are lost to sickness in the UK every year, and some of this is due to a lack of physical activity[4].

Healthy Eating Initiatives:

Provide fruit baskets, run a ‘healthy recipe’ swap, or offer workshops on nutrition. Free Fruit is not a wellbeing programme in isolation. Given that obesity and related conditions are major health concerns in the UK[5], promoting healthy eating can make a tangible difference in employee wellbeing.

Continuous Learning

Foster an environment of growth and learning. This could be through regular workshops, book clubs, or online courses. Personal growth not only benefits the individual but also brings fresh insights and skills to the business.

Final Thoughts

Just in case you missed it, free fruit and mental health first aiders are not a total workplace wellbeing solution.  Workplace wellbeing is far from a fleeting trend; it’s a business imperative. And while many of the initiatives mentioned above might seem small in isolation, collectively they can make a huge difference. In a world where businesses often operate with tight margins, taking care of your most valuable asset – your people – isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also a smart business move.


[1]: CIPD. (2021). *Health and Well-being at Work*.

[2]: Office for National Statistics. (2020). *Sickness absence in the UK labour market*.

[3]: Mental Health Foundation. (2018). *Mental Health in the Workplace*.

[4]: Public Health England. (2020). *Physical Activity: Applying All Our Health*.

[5]: NHS Digital. (2022). *Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet*.

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