Updated: May 13
While our personal wellbeing has always been of great importance, it has largely been considered as something that people do outside of work. We tend to think of having a balance between separate work and personal lives but, in reality, many of us spend a considerable amount of our time working; therefore, we need to think of work as being part of our life, and life not just as something that begins when we stop working.
A growing understanding of mental health and acceptance of ‘wellbeing for our lives as a whole’ has meant wellbeing at work has become much more prominent in recent years. Of course, this has been accelerated significantly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, when work and home-life has become more integrated for many of us than ever before.
It seems that a natural starting point for wellbeing at work is companies providing benefits to employees – think health insurance support, bike to work schemes, subsidised gym memberships and childcare vouchers – but does this do enough to really support an employee’s wellbeing?
In 2017, Simply Health reported findings that although 81% of businesses in their survey had a strategy in place to support their employees’ health and wellbeing, 56% struggled to say what they believe their employees’ health and wellbeing priorities are. This suggests that many companies implement a policy because they believe they should do something, but there is a lack of effective communication with their employees to understand what is really needed to make a real impact.
Wellbeing Improves Performance
Wellbeing is the foundation of performance: increased wellbeing improves performance. Employers can (and should) implement operational processes but, if we consider philosophy and think of the four elements of our people as being the hands, the head, the heart and the hope, this really only engages the hands. Wellbeing is a far more holistic approach that focuses on hearts, hands (the body), minds (the heads), and links into the hope. The practice of integrating and managing balance brings the four together into a whole (holism – the central H, below).
When integrated with the operational performance, wellbeing has been proven to significantly improve both individual and organisational performance. In thinking back to wellbeing encompassing our life as a whole, we don’t take someone else to work. How we are in life is how we show up at work. Someone who is in a great place of wellbeing will show up in a great place in work and will be ready to perform better.
What’s the Evidence?
Studies suggest there is a strong link between wellbeing and employee engagement. In 2014, a report by Engage for Success reviewed numerous studies and suggested there is a strong virtuous circle between employee engagement and wellbeing: more engaged workers take better care of their wellbeing and healthier workers are more engaged with their jobs and organisations.
However, the 2017 ‘State of the Global Workplace’ report by global analytics firm, Gallup, showed that in the average UK company, just 11% of employees are engaged. 68% of employees are not engaged, while 21% are actively disengaged.
So why does this matter? Gallup’s research shows that, compared with businesses in the lowest quartile, companies in the top quartile of engagement realise substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.
Extensive research from the London School of Economics (LSE) provides very strong evidence that a commitment to employee wellbeing leads to significant shifts in performance in the four key areas of customer satisfaction, employee productivity, profitability and a reduction in staff turnover.
Deloitte’s ‘Mental Health and Employers’ report found the cost of poor mental health to UK employers had risen 16% in the four years between 2016 and 2020. Deloitte highlight the beneficial financial return of implementing health and wellbeing programmes, stating that employers will see a £5 return on every £1 of investment on mental health interventions. This return will be seen through reductions in absence, presenteeism (people working when unwell) and staff turnover. Deloitte also found that offering early-stage support around mental health and emotional wellbeing could have a return as high as 8:1.
A critical support element for our wellbeing is resilience, and this has certainly been tested in recent times. In 2020, a Europe-wide report from Aon indicated that only 15% of employees are resilient in organisations not offering health and wellbeing support. That figure almost doubles with partial support to 29% and triples to 45% for those organisations offering a broad health and wellbeing programme.
In the USA, research shows that companies in the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ and winners of the Corporate Health Achievement Awards outperformed the market average and achieved better stock returns.
There is now a significant body of evidence supporting the links between wellbeing and performance, and the impact that employers can make to their organisation’s performance by supporting the health and wellbeing of their employees. In short, wellbeing is great for us and great for business.
Where are we now?
Given the wide impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on people’s wellbeing, it is no surprise that the subject has been at the forefront of many companies’ minds in recent times. A study by Inpulse reported a 240% increase in anxiety in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, with 17% of UK employees reporting it. The company also found that 42% of employees are concerned about their self-awareness, which is a key foundation for building resilience.
Public Health England noted that self-reported mental health and wellbeing worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, including those reporting mental distress and those experiencing sleep problems. Young adults (aged between 18 and 34) and women were more likely to report worse mental health and wellbeing during this time.
Even without the pandemic, it appears that the state of wellbeing at work programmes is not what it could be. Although studies suggest that more and more employers are implementing workplace wellbeing initiatives, there still seems to be some disconnect between what is being offered and what employees feel would actually benefit them.
This may, in part, be due to a lack of communication or listening to what employees want, although findings in some of the studies we’ve researched imply that, since we are all different, wellbeing solutions are invariably most powerful when they are tailored to the individual. Therefore, one-size-fits-all corporate wellbeing programmes may not have the impact that employers desire.
The Personal Leadership Programme
Everyone is different and faces different challenges; therefore, how each person supports their own wellbeing will differ. The Personal Leadership programme is a coaching programme that guides you to reflect on the balance of your life as a whole, raising your self-awareness and enabling you to identify key actions that will transform your ‘whole life’ performance.
The course will focus you to consider your personal energy and life balance, before using the 6Rs framework to create a personal charter that comprises your:
A series of 10 one-to-one coaching sessions will deepen your learning and challenge you to push further and think bigger, helping you make the changes and build the habits which lead to the realisation of your goals.
The course will help you understand the power of your own choices and nurture a mindset that allows you to thrive. You will identify key wellbeing and performance actions that enable you to turn up at your best - in work and in life.
Wellbeing is moving from a nice-to-have to a must-have. For companies, the links between wellbeing, employee engagement and performance are clear. Increased wellbeing supports engagement and increases performance. It increases profitability, productivity, customer engagement and sales performance; it decreases staff turnover, accidents and lost working time.
People are experiencing the events of the Covid-19 pandemic in very different ways and there has never been a more important time to make employee wellbeing a priority. Supporting the learning and development of individuals and teams is critical as we navigate the unknown, and building the resilience, confidence and resources of the people your business depends on will help accelerate your journey.
The Personal Leadership programme will help you build resilience and improve your wellbeing, productivity and performance. The personalised coaching support will enable you to develop greater clarity and focus, beginning a transformation that will boost your impact, fulfilment and achievements.
To sign up for the Personal Leadership programme, please click here.
To discuss a corporate programme and rates, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can access free taster resources here, including a gratitude habit former and introductory exercises to energy management, the life-wheel and the personal charter.
Simply Health, Health and Wellbeing Benefits Guide (2017): https://employeebenefits.co.uk/content/uploads/2018/02/Health-and-Wellbeing-Benefits-Guide.pdf
Engage for Success, The Evidence: Wellbeing and Employee Engagement (2014)
Gallup, State of the Global Workplace (2017): https://www.gallup.com/workplace/238079/state-global-workplace-2017.aspx
LSE (Krekel, Ward & De Neve), Employee Wellbeing, Productivity and Firm Performance (2019): http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1605.pdf
Deloitte, Mental Health and Employers: The Case for Investment (2017): https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/uk/Documents/public-sector/deloitte-uk-mental-health-employers-monitor-deloitte-oct-2017.pdf
Deloitte, Mental Health and Employers: Refreshing the Case for Investment (2020): https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consulting/articles/mental-health-and-employers-refreshing-the-case-for-investment.html
‘Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices’,
Alex Edmans (2011): http://faculty.london.edu/aedmans/Rowe.pdf
The Link Between Workforce Health and Safety and the Health of the Bottom Line: Tracking Market Performance of Companies That Nurture a “Culture of Health”, Fabius et al. (2013): https://journals.lww.com/joem/Fulltext/2013/09000/The_Link_Between_Workforce_Health_and_Safety_and.1.aspx
The Stock Performance of C. Everett Koop Award Winners Compared With the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, Goetzel et al. (2016): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4697959/
Inpulse, ‘Inpulse Surveyed Over 11,000 Employees in May 2020: Here Are the Results’: https://www.inpulse.com/inpulse-surveyed-over-11000-employees-in-may-2020-here-are-the-results/
Inpulse, ‘Lockdown in winter – expert warns working from home creates new challenges for employers and employees’ (2020): https://www.inpulse.com/lockdown-in-winter-expert-warns-working-from-home-creates-new-challenges-for-employers-and-employees/
Public Health England, COVID-19: mental health and wellbeing surveillance report (2020): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-mental-health-and-wellbeing-surveillance-report/2-important-findings-so-far