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    8 steps and 40 ideas for building your employee wellbeing programme

    Matt Pope

    Part 1: The first 2 of 8 crucial steps to building an employee wellbeing programme that delivers ROI.

    In the first part of this two-part blog, I explore the newly heightened importance of employee workplace wellbeing.

    I'll show the benefits of an effective wellbeing programme to both staff and employer, and reveal the first 2 of 7 crucial steps, plus 40+ success factors you need to know, to make it all work.

    The recent journey

    The last 15 months have placed extreme pressures and stresses on workforces, not least on those people whose whole working-life experiences had been moulded by the office environment.

    When that office environment was removed back in March 2020 by lockdowns, millions found themselves having to adapt to a whole new way of working.

    employee wellbeing stats 1From the desk to the dinner table

    Ongoing remote-working spared many people the daily grind and cost of the commute to the office. But it left the same people without so much of the stimulus that workplace environments provide:

    The very stimulus that directly affects employee well-being (for the better, and sometimes for the worse).

    At the same time, employers lost hold of so many of the levers they could pull to influence and encourage workplace wellbeing.

    ‘Virtual’ wellbeing solutions had to be quickly found, but were tough to prioritise in the midst of such huge upheaval and challenge for businesses in the midst of lockdown.

    Where we’re all at

    Now that restrictions are being lifted globally and businesses are planning to reopen their offices – albeit with far more flexible or hybrid working models - employee wellbeing is taking top priority in these reopening plans.

    employee wellbeing stats  2In previous blogs we’ve examined the challenge of workplace re-entry employee anxiety and ways that employers can make office reopening as people-focused as possible.

    But addressing employee wellbeing is a longer-term challenge that requires a long-term programme and commitment.

    Today, wellbeing programmes need to be re-booted, re-energised, or re-built with even greater commitment.

    Here I'll explore some of the key elements to consider in reviewing and building your new or re-booted employee wellbeing programme.

    Benefits of employee workplace wellbeing to a business

    Let’s first define employee wellbeing as the overall health (both physical and mental) and happiness of the people in your employ.

    It’s a broad metric and the benefits of raising it up are equally far-reaching:

    • Greater employee productivity
    • Improved creative thinking and creativity.
    • More effective problem solving
    • Higher organisational performance
    • Increased staff-to-company loyalty and lower staff turnover
    • Reduced recruitment and training costs
    • Greater talent retention
    • Greater talent attraction
    • Reduced sickness and absenteeism
    • Improved customer service and relations

    So, while it's natural that no management team wants a stressed-out, sickly, low-moral workforce, the tangible benefits of nurturing the exact opposite are fundamental to the success and growth of any organisation.

    7 steps to designing a new employee wellbeing programme.

    The influencing factors

    I referenced earlier in this bog the levers that employers lost hold of during lockdowns: the influencing factors that can help improve employee workplace wellbeing.

    Let’s take a look at what those key factors are, and how they fit into an effective wellbeing programme.

    The three core elements of workplace wellbeing:

    1. Mental: Security. Cognitive needs. Stress
    2. Social: Belonging. Community. Connection. Appreciation
    3. Physical: Environment. Nourishment. Fitness

    So, while the traditional ‘hierarchy of needs’ is built on basic physical needs, workplace wellbeing relies on all 3 elements working together in a synergistic, non-hierarchical way.

    maslows triangle 2

    Step 1. Identifying the factors that matter

    Different organisations will have different profiles in terms of which factors rank the highest in relative influence and importance.

    With this in mind, step 1 in designing/re-booting a workplace wellbeing programme is to survey your staff.

    An employee survey at the start of this process will help you understand your current company culture, and the needs and priorities of your workforce and the teams within it.

    Split the survey into the 3 key areas above, and consider using Likert scales (i.e., strongly agree – disagree) to home into the elements and specific factors that influence the wellbeing of your people.

    Step 2. Building the programme

    Let’s recap on the 3 key elements of a workplace wellbeing programme:

    • Mental: Security. Cognitive needs. Stress
    • Social: Belonging. Community. Connection. Appreciation
    • Physical: Environment. Nourishment. Fitness

    Once your staff survey has weighted the importance and influence on your organisation of each of these areas, you can brainstorm and scope out the initiatives that will help to shift the dial for each.

    The checklist: 40+ considerations, ideas and suggestions for your winning wellbeing programme

    Employee’s mental wellbeing needs

    • mindfulness small - unsplashFlexible working hours
    • Regular re-energising breaks
    • Discouragement of long burn-out hours
    • Clarity of job expectations and goals
    • Work / task variety
    • Training and personal/professional development
    • HR policies and policy communication
    • Virtual mindfulness – guided meditations – remote team wellness
    • Free subs to mental wellbeing apps
    • Emotional coaching
    • Employee voice

    Employee’s social wellbeing needs

    • Group social activitiesbeer pong small - unsplash
    • Team building exercises – face-to-face and virtual.
    • Online and real-time communities
    • Support volunteering and ‘giving-back’ to the wider community.
    • Recognition & praise: Engender a spirit of appreciation and recognition – peer to peer (as well as leader to employee)
    • Engender a spirit of positive fun and friendly competition.
    • Gamification - Sports team, Charity run.
    • Engender a spirit of collaboration: virtual collaboration portal, where everyone can share ideas.
    • Music (and dance!)

    Employee’s physical wellbeing needs:


    • Healthy snacks supplied.
    • Nutrition education
    • Healthy ‘bake-off’ competitions
    • Free nutrition apps subs


    • yoga small - unsplashGroup and team physical activities: Realtime and virtual
    • Fitness
    • Combat
    • Cycle to work schemes.
    • Yoga
    • Relaxation
    • Fitness challenges – teams and individuals
    • Free subs to health aps
    • Walking meetings

    Workspace environment.

    • Flexible location working
    • Mixture of open and closed plan
    • Dedicated areas for brainstorming, discussing, and collaborating.
    • Break and break-out rooms
    • Workstation ergonomics
    • Standing desks
    • Light and daylight and temperature control
    • Workspace décor: colour and personality
    • Plants
    • Noise
    • Air quality

    In Part two of this blog next week, we drill down into the next 5 of the 7 steps to building a winning employee wellbeing programme that delivers ROI.



    *CIPD survey of 1000+ HR professionals: Health and Wellbeing at Work Report 2020

    Image credits:
    Madison Lavern on
    Jonah Brown on
    Amauri Mejía on

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