Corporate wellness – Beyond fruit bowls 

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Corporate wellbeing has become a growing concern in the United Kingdom, as businesses have begun to recognize the importance of promoting health and happiness among their employees. This movement has been driven by a number of factors, including increased awareness of mental health issues, the rising cost of healthcare, and a growing desire to create a positive work-life balance for employees.

Studies have shown that there is a significant positive correlation between employee well-being and job performance.[1] One of the key trends in corporate wellbeing in the UK is the focus on mental health. Many companies have begun to offer mental health support to their employees, including counselling services, employee assistance programs, and mental health days. Some companies have even introduced “mental health first aid” training for managers and supervisors, so that they can recognize the signs of mental health issues and provide support to employees.

Many leaders are openly speaking up about their mental wellbeing challenges and therefore the associated stigma is coming down. However, employees tend to exercise a lot of caution and are not willing to discuss their mental wellbeing challenges openly as they fear that it could be used against them.

For a long time corporate wellbeing has been focusing on physical health. What started as a fruit bowls and gym membership program now focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles with their employees. They do this by providing health screenings, fitness classes, and health insurance linked backed to healthy lifestyles in the workplace. Some companies have even introduced standing desks, treadmill desks, and other ergonomic solutions to promote physical activity throughout the day.

Britain is facing immense talent shortage and people are working longer and harder as a result. That has led to an increase in work place stress which has an impact on their professional wellbeing. Stress is a major contributor to poor mental and physical health, and it is a common problem in many workplaces.. A study by Cooper and Payne shows that job stress was positively associated with absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, and turnover intentions. In addition, the study found that job stress was also associated with physical health problems such as headaches and chest pains, as well as mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.[2] 

Companies have started to emphasise the importance of professional wellbeing resulting in a positive work-life balance. To that effect companies have introduced flexible working hours, remote working options, and unlimited vacation policies, to allow employees to better manage their work and personal lives.

Given that we are facing a financial crisis, many individuals are struggling to maintain a roof over their head, pay for their food and transport and as a result are stressed about the uncertainty they face. Financial wellbeing or the lack of it is becoming a major source of stress. Companies have started providing some solutions like debt advice, Pay early etc.

While there is a growing interest in corporate wellbeing in the UK, there is still a long way to go in terms of implementation. Many companies still do not have adequate wellbeing programs in place, and many employees still feel that their mental and physical health is not given the attention it deserves.

There is also the danger of “Wellness washing” which refers to companies making false or misleading claims about the health and wellness benefits of their workplace culture or practices, without providing the necessary support or resources to actually make it happen. Having a wellbeing champion but not giving them clear steer and responsibilities is one example.

Living with Covid has helped companies realise the importance of wellbeing and there was a lot of investment happening in this space during this time.  Companies spent a lot of money and rolled out initiatives without really understanding the wellbeing challenges their employees have and how it is impacting performance. Group think influenced most of these investment decisions.

People are different and their wellbeing needs are different. Without gaining an understanding of individual wellbeing challenges investing in wellbeing programs and initiatives is a colossal waste of time, effort and money. Companies should be able to obtain this information anonymously from employees and then build it as part of their wellbeing investment strategy.

A simple solution would be to anonymously collect information from employees and invest in those. It is also possible to create a simple survey using survey monkey to collect this data. If companies are working with a mental health first aider or wellbeing champion, they can seek their help to collect information. Alternately, companies can use a platform like KAYA which allows them to not only collect the information but also helps them track the effectiveness of those initiatives over a period of time.

Overall, corporate wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important issue in the UK, as businesses begin to recognize the benefits of promoting health and happiness among their employees. With the continued growth of this trend, it is likely that more and more companies will begin to invest in wellbeing programs, and that employees will see a growing emphasis on mental and physical health in the workplace

[1] The Relationship Between Employee Well-Being and Job Performance: A Meta-Analysis, A. J. Brief, A. M. Guzzo, and D. S. Weiss, The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,

[2] The Role of Job Stress in Physical and Mental Health, C. L. Cooper and R. J. Payne,  Journal of Applied Psychology

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