In the last few years there has been a lot of conversation around healthy living, but how can you expect your staff to be happy and healthy if your workplace doesn’t support their wellbeing? It’s very difficult to stay healthy if a major part of your life – like your job – is having a negative effect on your welfare.

There are however many benefits to supporting employee wellbeing at work, both to the employees as well as to the employer and this is something we recently discussed at one of our HR Junctions with a number of HR professionals, business owners, and managers.

What is employee wellbeing?

According to ACAS, “health” refers to both a person’s physical and mental fitness. “Wellbeing” is how people feel and function on an individual and social level. It covers how they feel about their lives, including their jobs, and their relationships with the people around them.

How can you foster wellbeing in the workplace?

Creating a positive, safe and healthy working environment can help to reduce stress and increase productivity. There are many different ways that employers can support their employees’ wellbeing and here are just a few examples, some of which cost nothing:

  • Employee assistance/counselling programmes;
  • Providing extra training to managers and team leaders to help them better understand their team’s needs;
  • Regular one-to-one catch-ups with employees, to help identify any issues early and understand what motivates their team;
  • Flexible working hours;
  • Social events;
  • Healthcare and fitness schemes;
  • Fresh fruit in the office; and
  • Outdoor networking walks.

It is crucial to remember that changes and initiatives to support wellbeing need to be tailored to your business and working environment.

Health and safety is key and should be the foundation of any initiatives, but one of the best ways to understand what you can do to help is a survey – find out what employees themselves think would help them.

Additionally, initiatives need to start at the top, so senior leaders and managers should communicate any changes and benefits to the rest of the business. This helps to create a positive culture and ensures everyone is on board and no-one is missing out due to miscommunication.

What are the benefits of employee wellbeing initiatives?

A healthy and happy workforce is more productive, efficient and more likely to go the extra mile for your clients/customers and the business.

Employees that feel they have a better work-life balance are more likely to remain loyal to your business and to their role. Staff retention will, therefore, be higher, allowing you to retain experienced staff and save you money and efficiencies in recruitment fees, induction, and training, etc.

Workers that are healthy and motivated, are also less likely to take sick leave.

What else should you consider?

In terms of the law there is a broad responsibility of health and safety at work, but no legal requirements regarding mental health and wellbeing.  However, in certain circumstances where an employee’s health is affected steps do need to be taken.   

If you have an employee who is absent from work due to their mental health and wellbeing, for example, due to stress at work, their situation should be reviewed and (dependent on the circumstances), appropriate steps should be taken to ensure you understand the root cause of the problem, have medical advice where needed and that processes or changes are put in place to support the member of staff or to avoid problems in the future.  You also need to make sure you are doing all you can support their return to work as soon as possible.  A note of caution here, however, as some cases may cross over into disability discrimination, and there are more obligations on an employer when dealing with situations of this type, so if you’re not sure – always seek the appropriate HR and legal advice.

Having the appropriate frameworks, resources and training within your business will not only provide support and solutions for your employees but also assist managers in handling situations where employees seek help. They too need to have support and options in place to best assist your employees.

The bottom line is not to ignore the mental or physical health needs of your workforce. Your employees are the core of your business and whilst you may not wish to embrace yoga breakfast meetings just yet, at the very least you should be reviewing your current policies and ensuring support is in place for people who are already dealing with health issues (like stress, anxiety, and depression). If you would like to discuss this topic and how we can support your employment law requirements in your business, please call 0161 930 5117 or email

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