Resolutions for workplace wellness in 2018

There’s been a 20% increase in the number of employers embracing workplace wellness strategies in 2017, and the figure is expected to rise in 2018.

Workplace wellness can be defined as any health promotion activity or organisational practice that supports healthy behaviour among employees. And while it would be nice to think that it’s always morally motivated, the impact of employee wellness on business profitability is also a huge factor in the rising trend.

Employee wellness doesn’t just affect individuals’ job and life satisfaction, it also:

  • Makes them more productive
  • Lowers the risk of accidents
  • Makes them less likely to be absent
  • Makes them more engaged
  • Increases productivity

If you’re one of the many businesses looking to reap the benefits of better workplace wellness in 2018, these resolutions will help you start off on the right foot:

1. Take more responsibility  

Work pressures, demands on time, financial stress and our ‘always on’ digital culture have a lot to answer for.

The CIPD’s Absence Management survey found that the number of people experiencing mental health problems at work has risen from a quarter to a third over the past 5 years, while the number not eating healthy diets has jumped from 52 per cent to 62 per cent and the number of people getting less than seven hours’ sleep a night has risen from 26 to nearly 30 per cent.

It’s no wonder then that average number of working days lost per year due to absenteeism or ‘presenteeism’ has gone up from 23 to 30.

Of course, as an employer you can’t take responsibility for all these problems, but there are a lot of steps you can take to influence a healthy working environment and reduce the pressures that perpetuates them, for example:


2. Build wellness into organisational culture

Wellness initiatives aren’t all about perks and shouldn’t be seen as ‘add-ons’ – rather, they should be closely aligned to your values and ingrained in your workplace culture.

It’s no surprise that the businesses who do workplace wellness well usually have a good corporate culture – and this has the added benefit of helping them attract and retain the best employees.

Here are some examples:

  • You value employees’ work-life balance so you encourage employees to switch off from emails after 7pm and offer extended leave perks
  • You value employees’ physical health so you provide fitness breaks and on-site shower facilities to enable them to fit exercise into their working day
  • You value mental wellbeing so you hold shorter, walking meetings and encourage employees to get outdoors more
  • You want staff to be well supported so you make sure managers are trained and people have access to training e.g. on time management


When establishing your wellness strategy, utilise your office facilities e.g. courtyard or break out areas, and involve your local community by providing mindfulness workshops over lunch or bringing in mobile masseuses.

We love the idea of ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ which have been implemented by Three and allow people to take an extended 2-hour lunch break to do something that supports their wellbeing

3. Remove the stigma

Vitality Health’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey found that the proportion of respondents who reported suffering from moderate or severe depression has jumped from below 4 per cent to nearly 6 per cent this year. The actual figure is likely to be higher.

Although there has been a lot of press about mental health in the workplace, there is still a stigma around it. You can help to build a supportive culture which will help staff feel comfortable opening up about mental health problems by:

  • Providing mental health awareness training
  • Training line managers to spot the early signs of mental illness
  • Creating a culture of acceptance, where it’s just as valid to take time off for mental health as it is to the see a physiotherapist


4. Get people on board

It’s not enough to implement a wellness programme, you also have to promote it and encourage your employees to access it. Vitality Health’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey found that while 62 per cent of employers offered wellness programmes, only 28 per cent of employees used them.

One of the best ways to make sure you’re offering initiatives that employees want is access is to involve them:

  • Ask them for requests and suggestions
  • Keep in touch and survey them regularly to find out what’s working for them and how you could improve things
  • Provide rewards for making healthy choices that appeal to them

Making sure that you engage senior management in the process is also vital. Elevating wellness to board level discussion demonstrates that it’s a top priority.

5. Give it a budget

The annual cost of a wellness programme is £51-75 per employee per year – it’s £522 for absence. So, workplace wellness expenditure should be seen as an essential part of your business strategy and as such should have its own budget.

After all, if you’re like most successful businesses, it’s highly likely that your staff are your most important asset – and simply put, healthy staff are happy staff.

The cost of ill health places a big burden on businesses and costs the UK economy an estimated £73 billion a year. The issues are complex, but they’re not all out of your control as an employer.

By resolving to implement a Workplace Wellness strategy in 2018, and taking the above tips on board, you can create a virtuous circle by which you not only improve the health of your employees, but the health of your business too.


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