Wellness: It’s Not Just Fruit on a Friday!

Alistair Dornan, 10 October 2017

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How is employee wellness supported in your organisation? Perhaps corporate gym membership? Smoking cessation programmes? Fruit on a Friday? All great initiatives that contribute to employee wellbeing. Possibly mentally, certainly physically. Which is where the focus lies in most wellness programmes. 

According to research by Barclays, 4% of payroll value in the UK is lost through health-related absence – and this isn’t just physical health.[1] To fully benefit from employee wellness initiatives, I believe we have to think beyond physical wellbeing.

It’s addressing physical, financial and mental wellbeing together that makes a real impact on engagement and performance. Mental wellness being typically difficult to measure!

Is mental wellness a taboo subject in your organisation?

Our research in this area identifies mental wellness and stress as topics that line managers struggle with – and one that employees are hesitant to discuss – so it’s no surprise that it’s often not measured or included on meeting agendas. We have seen that wellness is often poorly defined or misunderstood which means it risks being overlooked in many companies.  It is time to address this issue.  After all, we seek to be responsible employers, and which CEO would not want to invest in an area that increases business performance?

Bottom line – improving mental wellness benefits everyone

Capita’s Employee Insight Report identified the incidence of workplace stress and the ineffectiveness of employers in cultivating a working environment that promotes positive mental health.[2] 44.6% of employees say they know a colleague who has given up work due to stress and 38.0% say they have known colleagues to complain about stress in the workplace, but their employer hasn’t acted.

Compliance with HSE Standards

Responsible UK employers will understand their requirements regarding HSE standards from a workplace health and safety perspective, yet they may not understand (or realise they have!)  obligations regarding mental health.  At the heart of this is a company’s mental health policy and plan which, to be effective, must be fit for purpose and designed specifically for the organisation.

Taking responsibility for mental health and stress in your organisation

Without doubt, this is something that needs to be driven from a senior level. Given its impact on people and performance, there is a real opportunity for HR to put in place a strategy that fits the needs of the business and that influences and creates engagement.

A Guide to getting it right

In our Guide to Wellness in the Workplace we’ve devised a simple check-list to help HRDs and business leaders begin to address mental wellbeing. If you have the right framework in place, it is possible to measure, improve, and assess the impact of mental wellness amongst your workforce. Helping you to:

  • Create a clear strategy or framework that will guide (physical, mental, financial wellness) activities towards your goals
  • Set metrics that will enable you to tangibly measure wellness and its direct impact on business performance
  • Break the taboo so that people are comfortable discussing mental health in the workplace
  • Be prepared to invest in line manager training to cultivate a more inclusive open culture
  • Start with Capita’s wellness in the workplace checklist to understand where areas for improvement lie

An engaged, efficient, productive workforce that is released from physical, mental and financial stress has a measurable positive financial impact on organisational performance. While physical wellbeing often seems easier to address tactically and practically, overall employee wellness encompasses much more than fruit on a Friday.

Read more about the Capita Guide to Wellness in the Workplace.




[1] Barclays, Financial Well-being: The Last Taboo in the Workplace? (May 2014) here

[2] Capita Employee Benefits, Employee Insight Report (2015) here

About the author

Alistair Dornan Head of Health Management

Alistair Dornan

Insight Research

Our research reports are aimed at Pension Trustees and HR Directors, covering topics such as pensions, health, flexible benefits, engagement and wellness. They are free to download!

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