Workplace Wellbeing: It’s not all about free fruit on Fridays

by | Jan 29, 2021 | Blog

Free fruit on Friday, shower breaks, gym memberships, an office pet. These are all great ways to improve workplace wellbeing. However, it takes more than this to keep your employees happy and healthy at work.

First you need to lay the foundations: Training, effective management and clear policies all need to be in place to ensure your wellbeing initiatives have the greatest effect. With increased access to free Wi-Fi, longer commutes and endless notifications, it can become ever more challenging to switch off from the ‘daily grind’.   In fact, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) revealed that over 55% of workers felt ‘under excessive pressure’ and were ‘regularly miserable’, with only 30% saying they were ‘often or always full of energy’. We don’t need to tell you which of these people are likely to be more engaged at work. Instead, we’re here to offer you several ideas which you can apply in a business context to have a genuine impact on wellbeing, engagement and productivity in your workplace.

Establish Boundaries People are often reluctant to switch off their work emails after office hours, fostering an ‘always on’ mentality. Some companies choose to tackle this by putting a ban on emails outside of office hours.  You might consider this to be a little too rigid. Instead, we suggest that you encourage people to map out their working week and block out when they aren’t available. Having this type of time scheduled in gives them more freedom to say ‘no’ and fully switch off from their work.

Train managers When it comes to great management, empathy is an essential quality. It comes naturally for some, but for others, training in active listening and facilitating conversations about wellbeing is a great way to ensure employees are voicing their concerns and stressors. Don’t forget that your line managers need support, too. It is up to senior leaders to set an example for the type of behaviour they’d like to see across the organisation.

Introduce a wellbeing allowance Cost is a common barrier for many people when it comes to wellbeing activities. Perhaps someone wants to take up meditation classes or buy a pair of walking boots. This is something you can help them to achieve by setting aside a budget for each team member to use towards their mental and physical wellbeing.

Rethink breaks We all know that taking time out at lunch to switch off helps with productivity but sometimes, getting your employees away from their desks is the hardest part. Many companies choose to schedule activities for lunch breaks to encourage their employees to close their laptops and socialise with colleagues or exercise. The activity can be as simple as a game over lunch or a walk. You may also want to consider collaborative learning opportunities as an alternative to traditional breaks. Your business will be full of skills and knowledge across varying disciplines so give your employees the opportunity to share them with each other whilst also taking some time away from their usual tasks.

Talk to your team about personal goals Google use Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s Nudge theory to influence the behaviour of their employees. Encouraging them to switch off when they’re not at work and focus their free time on personal goals. Employees are asked to share a personal goal with their manager and from there they work together to make it happen. Keeping the goals specific allows you to make real improvements to employees’ work-life balance and demonstrates your commitment to their wellbeing.

Think outside the box Once you’ve laid the groundwork, you can then explore ideas that are more outside the box. Think about your company culture and values to come up with more creative ways to improve wellbeing and boost engagement. For example, cycling company Specialized allow longer lunch breaks and encourage their staff to split up the day with a bike ride. Hertfordshire Country Council formed their own workplace choir, which has resulted in a significant boost in employee engagement and staff retention. If you are thinking of how you can improve productivity, engagement and wellbeing in your team. Please don’t hesitate to contact one of the Holgate HR team at info@