Wellbeing Initiatives for the Workplace

Recently XpertHR conducted a wide-scale survey of wellbeing initiatives in the workplace, either currently in use or planned. This blog is a condensed summary of their report.

XpertHR were encouraged to find that of the 419 respondents, over two in five (43.5%) organisations already had a wellbeing programme in place for at least two years. Overall, there was a high level of commitment to employee wellbeing, a quarter of them having recently implemented programmes.

Growing evidence indicates that good employee wellbeing improves productivity, engagement and overall business performance. The top three reasons provided for introducing wellbeing initiatives were:

  • A desire to provide support to all staff
  • Encouraging employee engagement
  • Reducing absence

Five other areas recognised as playing a crucial role in employee wellbeing are:

  • Health
  • Job-related financial security
  • Working environment
  • Work-based relationships
  • Job purpose


The three most popular programmes that organisations implement are employee assistance programmes (EAPs), free eye tests and free online/face-to-face counselling either as part of an EAP or as a standalone initiative.

EAPs have a particularly positive impact on employees. Benefits include the confidential nature of the programme; 24 hour a day availability, seven days a week; providing good, all-round help for both personal and work-related issues; and being accessible to all employees. EAPs are a support to the HR function, with business owners reporting that counselling is available faster than through the NHS. Being confidential, employees can access your EAP 24/7 without anyone knowing, so make sure you publish this initiative often to ensure optimum take-up.

Many businesses reported that absence figures reduced after the introduction of their free online/face-to-face counselling. It helps individuals, too, to receive help and remain at work. For those who do need time off, their return to work is expedited and you benefit from advice on appropriate workplace adjustments required. Again, all much faster than when employees use the NHS.

Regular Wellbeing Days are another valuable resource, so having properly trained Mental Health First-Aiders in place is extremely helpful. This initiative has the potential to become the most popular health-focused programme in the future. They encourage employees to think about their health and wellbeing, and generally have high visibility. Wellbeing Days can include a formal programme of events, including raising awareness of other programmes on offer. Or they can provide time for employees to access a treatment or an exercise class.

On average, employers operate around six different initiatives aimed at improving employee health. As well as the above, you could include:

  • Free flu vaccinations
  • Subsidised gym membership
  • Access to health screening
  • Physical fitness programme
  • Mental health first-aiders
  • Access to complementary therapies like massage or reflexology
  • Free physiotherapy/osteopathy
  • Free fruit and snacks available for all employees

Job-Related Financial Security

Many people suffer stress from worrying about their job security. Try to reassure your employees as much as you can to help alleviate the potential for related stress, anxiety or depression; this helps to impact positively on employee wellbeing.

Initiatives include:

  • Sick pay above statutory provision – this is ranked highest in having the most positive impact on employee wellbeing by some distance
  • Private medical insurance – this ensures that employees receive earlier treatment, leading to less sickness absence
  • Health cash plans – helps employees to access treatments that are normally financially restrictive, such as physiotherapy or chiropractor
  • Income protection/permanent health insurance
  • Self-funded health plans
  • Dental cash plans
  • Critical illness insurance
  • Personal accident insurance

Working Environment

A positive working environment with open communication is recognised as being one of the pillars of positive employee wellbeing. Businesses use an average of six initiatives in this area with access to flexible working being by far the most popular, having the best impact on employee wellbeing.

Initiatives include:

  • Access to flexible working – facilitates a good work/life balance, improves morale, and helps employees with childcare or other caring responsibilities
  • Kitchen/catering facilities on site – encourages employees to take breaks, interact with colleagues, and helps employees to eat healthier meals
  • Access to remote working – especially useful when employees are fit to work but have a virus, preventing the potential to infect others
  • Provision of car parking for all
  • Office design for maximum employee comfort and productivity
  • Access to filtered drinking water – although this is taken for granted as essential
  • Interest-free season ticket loan
  • Interest-free bike loan scheme
  • Staff showers
  • Car-share scheme
  • Regular checks of temperature/air quality

Work-Based Relationships

As well as having well-written and comprehensive procedures in place for dealing with accusations of bullying or harassment, it’s essential to properly implement them to fully benefit your employees. When you demonstrate that you effectively deal with bullying situations or accusations, you’re showing your employees that you value them, and also discourage any future bullying behaviour.

Organisations tend to have around four initiatives in place for workplace relationships. Initiatives include:

  • Regular all-employee face-to-face communication with senior management – helps employees feel more valued and informed; engenders a sense of belonging to the organisation; develops trust, transparency and confidence, which can reduce stress and impact positively on overall business performance
  • Communication around employee wellbeing
  • Regular team-building days out/events – create a positive impact on employee wellbeing; help build morale and improve relationships
  • Specific training for line managers in employee wellbeing
  • Effective use of procedures for responding to bullying
  • Staff suggestion scheme for wellbeing initiatives
  • Access to mediation in conflict situations

Job Purpose

Having a clear sense of purpose around their role and job function is a crucial part of promoting and encouraging employee wellbeing. Employee opinion surveys are a powerful way of demonstrating to employees that they are valued, which in turn can improve wellbeing, but only if you, as their employer, take action to implement positive changes from the survey.

Again, businesses tend to have around four initiatives in place in the area of job purpose. Initiatives include:

  • Actions are taken as a result of employee opinion surveys – helps employees feel listened to, and demonstrates you are listening to them
  • Employees have a degree of autonomy in their job roles – gives employees a greater feeling of control; gives a sense of ownership and trust; helps to alleviate stress and increase engagement
  • Employees have career development conversations
  • Opportunities are created for employees to use and develop their skills
  • Efforts are made to ensure employees are clear on their roles’ function in the organisation
  • Employees have the ability to influence management decisions
  • Workloads are monitored to ensure balance

It makes sound financial sense to provide a wellbeing incentive programme – it is clear that they improve productivity and morale in the workplace and reduce absence.

If you would like some advice on implementing wellbeing incentives in your organisation, or indeed any other staff issues, do call me on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.