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Wellbeing Programmes: what are they and should your organisation have one?

With workplace wellbeing fast becoming a hot topic, employers and organisations are beginning to recognise the need to formalise and integrate staff wellbeing into organisational strategies. But how is this best achieved? And what are the benefits of doing so? Our chief executive, Hamish Moore answers these questions and more…

What is a ‘Wellbeing Programme’?

Hamish Moore: “A Wellbeing Programme is one which holistically tries to improve the wellbeing of the workforce. It looks at how individuals are employed; their work context; how they are managed; their role, and activities that improve self-care.”

Why is having a Wellbeing Programme so important?

“It’s important, first and foremost, because it enables people to work productively. It’s been proven time and again that investing in workplace wellbeing can reduce absence and improve organisational performance. For example, research by Aon Hewitt in 2012 established that companies with highly engaged staff reported taking an average of 50% fewer absence days a year than staff who did not feel engaged. As a consequence, being ‘well’ at work, can reduce costs around matters such as absence, error, overtime and agency staff.

“Emphasising the importance of wellbeing at work creates an environment which focuses on the individual and means they are more likely to want to stay, so retention levels are higher.”

Should a Wellbeing Programme be integrated into larger organisational strategies?

“Yes. For most businesses, people are the key to their success. If people aren’t well, motivated and wanting to exercise discretionary effort, how can you deliver an organisational strategy at all?

“If you integrate a Wellbeing Programme into the overall plans for an organisation, it means that people can see how they contribute to the purpose of the organisation and they feel more valued. This thinking then becomes integral to the operational delivery of the business.

“Without the integration of a ‘Wellbeing Programme’ – or even considering staff wellbeing on a more general level – individuals perceive their value as tangential to the business rather than integral to it and no one wants to work for an organisation that only sees staff wellbeing as an ‘add on’.”

How can managers play a part in the Wellbeing Programme?

“Managers create the work environment – they decide who does what, when and they create and sustain culture and norms of behavior. Managers therefore are key to creating a work environment conducive to staff being productive and well.

“Creating a psychologically safe environment is key to creating this type of a work environment. A psychologically safe workplace, is one where staff feel safe to ask for help; where questioning the status quo is seen as constructive, and where suggesting better ways of working is actively rewarded and not seen as a challenge to the role or status of managers. It’s also one where managers actively promote and protect the mental health of their team – in much the same way as they do for physical safety.

“Most managerial training or development focuses on strategic thinking and management skills, rather than on recognising wellbeing of staff and positive, psychologically safe behaviours. Creating a psychologically safe environment is a growing area of focus for organisations who want to optimise the contribution of staff and managerial behavior is a significant part of this. Embedding a training programme of psychological safety for managers into a Wellbeing Programme is, subsequently crucial.”

Where does an organisation start if it wants to integrate a Wellbeing Programme?

“You have to start with the basics and measure the current levels of wellbeing in the organisation. You can do this by surveying staff (anonymously!) and getting data that highlights areas of organisational concern. Our clever wellbeing predictive tool – Wbi – can do just that and can provide you with data, specific to your organisation, neatly summarise the current situation and pinpoint the factors that need to be addressed, allowing for significant improvements to be made. Ordinary staff surveys do not always necessarily collect the data you need in these areas because they look more about the impact on the organisation rather than the wellbeing of individual staff. Surveying staff with Wbi identifies the areas that need improvement, which in turn can form part of a larger organisational strategy, and help to implement positive changes toward areas of wellbeing, performance and engagement.”

To summarise, then there are three key things to consider if you want to engage employees in a wellbeing programme:

  1. Build a sustainable programme that is holistic and integrated. This proves to employees that you are committed to the wellbeing agenda.
  2. Data gathered from surveying staff using our clever, wellbeing prediction tool (Wbi) can help to identify areas of concern as well as predicting future levels of absenteeism.
  3. Ensure that managers are the first to embrace the interventions, events and activities. If they don’t value it, staff probably won’t.
  4. Ensure that events, interventions and activities are delivered by skilled practitioners and that individuals involved can measure the benefits to themselves.

For further information on how to create a Wellbeing Programme in your organisation, contact us on 0191 224 8030 or email us

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