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Let them eat fruit! Or factors to consider when implementing a wellbeing strategy…

By Charlotte Pihlqvist, HR Projects & Recruitment Specialist, memcom consulting: offering a suite of HR services to membership organisations.

Unlike Health and Safety, organisations are not legally required to have a wellbeing policy. However, ‘Wellbeing’ is a topic that has been on the agenda for Human Resources departments across sectors for quite some time. Initially seen as a Health and Safety issue, it is now beginning to influence organisations in a more holistic way, often sitting across other organisational strategies.

Does this mean you should now consider introducing a wellbeing strategy or reviewing what you already have in place? Do wellbeing initiatives bring any return on investment or are they simply a further financial strain on organisations? In this blog we will look at what wellbeing in the work place means and how to make it a success.

So what exactly do we mean by ‘wellbeing’?

One of the problems many organisations face when creating a wellbeing agenda is how to define wellbeing. It is a concept which is likely to mean different things to different people particularly as it covers many areas; physical, psychological, social etc., and will have different connotations depending on the organisation or the sector.

To facilitate organisations when developing a wellbeing plan The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have identified seven inter-related ‘domains:’

1. Health

2. Good work

3. Values / principles

4. Collective / social

5. Personal growth

6. Good lifestyle choices

7. Financial wellbeing

You don’t have to interpret ‘wellbeing’ for your organisation as affecting all of the above, however, but it’s a great place to start in trying to decide what wellbeing might mean for your organisation.

Benefits of Wellbeing Strategies

The CIPD’s in-depth survey Health and Wellbeing at Work 2019 identified the top three benefits of wellbeing as:

· Better employee morale and engagement

· A healthier and more inclusive culture

· Lower sickness absence.

This clearly is a great place to start when deciding the rationale for introducing or improving a wellbeing strategy. The more the above are issues within your work culture, the easier it becomes to convince others of the need to implement a strategy which aims to improve all three areas.

So let’s face it…

Wellbeing is beneficial for people and organisations and is central to increasing employee engagement and organisational performance. Physical and psychological health and wellbeing initiatives are both likely to have a positive impact on sickness absence figures and productivity, and should pay dividends to the organisation’s bank account - as long as it’s carefully monitored.

To be of maximum benefit to the organisation the wellbeing strategy should be a central part of the culture, leadership and people management of the organisation incorporating aspects of all the ‘domains’ mentioned above.

But are they worth the cost and hassle?

The wellbeing market is currently saturated with products, choosing what is right for you is important. In my experience wellbeing initiatives can sometimes be one of two things: highly beneficial to an organisation when sustained or nothing more than a flash in the pan.

Not all wellbeing initiatives have a cost associated with them and it is recommended that organisations take time to decide what to invest in to ensure it is right for them. The starting point for any wellbeing initiative should be to define its purpose – whether that is increased employee engagement and productivity, reduced sickness absence etc. If an initiative doesn’t relate to the workforce or the organisation it is likely to fail.

Organisations often make the mistake of believing that by offering token (and isolated) wellbeing initiatives this means that the wellbeing box has been ticked. What they fail to consider is that for many staff something like the option of discounted gym membership is nothing more than the dreadful thought of seeing (and having to interact with) colleagues sweating in tracksuits (or even less…)!

So careful thought is needed when setting up a scheme, and a mechanism for monitoring the uptake of individual components of the scheme should also be built into your sustained plans.

Who is responsible?

Wellbeing in the work place should be a joint responsibility. It is essential that any initiative has the backing of senior leaders to make it a success. Much of the delivery will sit with line managers so providing them with support and guidance is key.

Ultimately an organisation needs to make sure that they encourage their staff to engage with the wellbeing agenda. Asking for feedback, promoting what is available and what the benefits are (particularly to individuals) is central to establishing a wellbeing agenda which will ensure return on investment.

A good Wellbeing Initiative can be of great benefit to an organisation but should be developed with careful consideration.

If you want to talk to us about any aspect of wellbeing in the workplace please feel free to contact me, Charlotte Pihlqvist, via or on 07564 508815.

About us…

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About the author…

Charlotte Pihlqvist is a CIPD member who has been working as an in-house human resources specialist since 2001, and has, for the last 12 years worked strategically within senior human resource roles across sectors. Charlotte’s specialisms include working with organisational leaders and managers to help them cope with change, build resilience and create teams. In her previous roles, she has regularly reviewed HR policies and procedures to ensure legal obligations are met and led on the development and implementation of all HR related initiatives.

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