How well is workplace wellbeing working?

Publication date

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Approval date

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wellbeing is difficult to define and, in a workplace context, it is hard to choose the best tools for assessing programmes in this area and for measuring the cost-effectiveness of these interventions.

According to the British Safety Council (BSC), inadequate people skills of many line managers and the low priority given by them to employee wellbeing are also important factors leading to only one in six organisations evaluating the impact of their health and wellbeing initiatives.

BSC Chairman Lawrence Waterman said: “Too often, unlike the highly professional approach applied to risk assessment and risk control, wellbeing efforts have been marked by a combination of real enthusiasm and commitment married to a woeful ignorance of what will make a difference.”

This positivity could dissipate, he pointed out, into incoherent programmes of free bananas and occasional “health weeks”, featuring Indian head massage and aromatherapy.

Responding to these challenges, a new report from the Council, “Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work” seeks to define wellbeing in the workplace and to lay down a set of metrics for effectively measuring wellbeing programmes and policies.

The report, the BSC said, is a comprehensive review of the existing literature and market intelligence as well as a call to action for employers in Britain to place the wellbeing needs of their workers at the top of the executive agenda.

Making it work

Among the recommendations to employers for creating and evaluating workplace wellbeing programmes, the report suggests:

  • giving employees the opportunity to participate in the creation and development of initiatives designed to improve their own health and wellbeing;

  • making sure that line managers are appropriately trained in mental health awareness;

  • evaluating the impact and efficacy of a company’s health and wellbeing interventions on a regular basis;

  • being aware that workers’ wellbeing is linked to job quality, which is expressed through a healthy working environment, fair wages, strong relationships with managers and colleagues, job design, a degree of responsibility and authority, workload, working hours, and career development prospects.

The report is free but registration is required at