9 mins. read

How to support employee wellbeing in the workplace in 2023

How to support employee wellbeing in the workplace

Key takeaways

  • Employee wellbeing is multi-faceted: It encompasses the mental, physical, social and financial aspects of an individual’s life.
  • Employee wellbeing isn’t confined to the workplace: It covers an employee’s overall quality of life, including aspects outside of the office.
  • You can support wellbeing in many ways: However, you should take your employee demographic, lifestyles and needs into consideration.

Wellbeing is more than a buzzword. It is a key component of a happy and healthy workforce,  encompassing an individual’s quality of life as a result of mental, physical, social and financial factors. It plays an integral part in the overall employee experience, which is why it can impact such things as employee productivity, sick leave and retention.

So how can employers best support employee wellbeing? This guide offers advice and ideas that businesses can implement, including workplace initiatives, employee programmes and company culture changes.

Offer flexibility

Research has shown that 87% of people would like to work more flexibly. Flexible working promotes a better work-life balance for employees, which in turn can improve employee wellbeing. Adopting a flexible approach to employee working also allows for greater focus, and a change of scenery can inspire new ideas, which benefits the business as well as individual employees.

A four-day working week trial

A four-day working week has been promoted by several organisations as a business improvement strategy but it has numerous benefits for employees, too. The fundamentals of this approach are based on a 100–80–100 model where employees receive 100% of their pay, for 80% of their usual hours, in exchange for 100% productivity.

Trials of a four-day working week have been overwhelmingly successful, with 91% of businesses who took part in a trial opting to continue. What’s more, 73% of workers with a four-day working week report greater levels of satisfaction. Around 71% say they feel less burned out, 39% state they experience less stress and 54% have experienced a reduction in negative emotions.

No emails out of work hours

In this digital era, there has been an increasing expectation that people always have to be contactable and that they should respond to calls, texts and emails instantly. However, this is having a detrimental effect on employee wellbeing.

A study titled ‘Exhausted But Unable to Disconnect’ found that out-of-hours emails lead to burnout, a work-life imbalance and an inability to switch off from work. Employers can prevent this and promote employee wellbeing by avoiding work communications outside of office hours and encouraging employees to ignore emails when they aren’t on the clock.

Adopt a culture of praise and recognition

Appreciation goes a long way in creating engaged, loyal and high-performing employees. A survey conducted by Great Place To Work found that 37% of employees cited recognition as the most important driver of great work.

There are many ways that an employer can recognise employees, whether for particular achievements, employment milestones or interpersonal traits. And it doesn’t have to only be management that can acknowledge employees in this way; you should encourage colleagues, customers and other stakeholders to highlight good work and positive attitudes, too.

Provide an Employee Assistance Program

Employee assistance programs (EAPs) offer a confidential service that provides counselling and other support to employees who are experiencing personal problems that affect their mental health and/or work performance. Some common issues that EAPs can help with include stress management, depression, alcoholism and domestic violence.

EAPs are mutually beneficial for employees and employers as they support employee wellbeing which in turn supports a business’ bottom line. Should you incorporate an EAP into your employee wellbeing strategy, ensure that employees know how to access the services available.

Introduce health benefits

Around 1 in 3 people of working age has a health condition, which equates to 12.8 million individuals in the UK. Those with a health condition may worry about their access to timely healthcare from the NHS, especially when private assistance isn’t feasible due to the cost. Ill health also has a cost for employers due to factors including lost productivity, sick pay and paying for cover.

So, while employee health benefits may appear to focus on physical wellbeing, they also have a significant impact on employee mental and financial wellbeing, as well as business growth and the overall economy.

Health benefits can take many forms. They can include more generic coverage, such as dental care, or options that promote good physical health, such as gym membership discounts. And they can also focus on specific health conditions, including cancer. It is estimated that 3 million people are currently living with cancer and there are some 1.5 million cancer carers in the UK who are in employment. Perci Health is here to support anyone affected by cancer and is available to employers as an employee health benefit.

Support women’s health

Women make up a significant portion of the UK workforce, with around 16 million having been in employment in 2020. However, the health concerns that women face can leave them feeling like they can’t perform well at work. Moreover, many women feel that their employers aren’t supportive when it comes to their health.

For example, 45% of women take time off due to heavy periods and 1 in 4 women have left jobs as a result of feeling unwell due to menopause. Around 10% of women live with endometriosis, which can cause severe pain and lead to poor mental health, while 1 in 7 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Employers can support women’s health, and therefore their wellbeing, by reducing the stigma that surrounds it. Fostering a work environment that promotes open, honest discussion, without fear of how it will impact employer perception of female employees or their careers, will go a long way. 

Employers can also provide specialised health benefits, access to women’s health specialists, and accommodate women with flexible working and paid leave for health issues. Further changes can be made to the working environment to make female employees more comfortable, such as providing sanitary products in bathrooms and providing desk fans for those experiencing hot flushes due to menopause.

Encourage breaks

It’s not uncommon to see employees eating their lunch at their desks or drinking tea while tapping away on their keyboards. However, proper breaks throughout the day are essential for employee wellbeing. Therefore, employers should encourage all employees to have time away from their desks at regular intervals.

Employers should provide employees with a dedicated, comfortable break room that they can use. It should have enough room that it doesn’t feel crowded, and contain tables and chairs as well as sofas. Appliances such as a kettle, microwave and fridge should be in place and access to cold, fresh water is also beneficial.

Offer professional financial education resources

More than 25% of employees say that money worries impact their ability to do their job, and nearly a third state that fears about the cost of living affects their productivity.

Employers can help alleviate financial worries and improve employee financial wellbeing by providing access to financial wellbeing support. This support can take the form of financial benefits such as bonuses, discounts and vouchers, but debt advice, financial counselling and money management education can also be incredibly beneficial.

Organise social events

Work relationships are an important component of employee wellbeing, as strong social connections can make people feel happier and physically healthier, as well as give them a greater sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness. Plus, a well-connected workforce is good for business, too.

Employers can encourage good interpersonal relationships by organising social events for employees. These can take place during the working day, such as coffee mornings, a movie afternoon or even a scavenger hunt. Employers can also arrange out-of-office activities, such as go-karting, an escape room, a meal or a team weekend away.

Want to learn more about employee health benefits? If you’re an employer, Perci Health can help you to provide resources to employees who are newly diagnosed with cancer, support an employee who is off sick, and ensure that the wellbeing of those returning to work after treatment is a priority. To find out more about how our virtual care clinic works and the support types available when employees create an account, book a demo today to find out how our employer programme works.


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