Integrating Wellbeing into the Workday: Strategies for HR

4th March 2024
 minute read

Table of contents


Integrating wellbeing into the workday requires taking a 360-degree approach to mental and emotional health. It can include everything from creating ergonomic workspaces, to implementing flexible scheduling, to offering EAPs. As people can experience a wide variety of mental health issues, boosting wellness requires an interplay of strategies that leaders and HR professionals can adopt. In this way, work can become an environment that supports wellness at all levels, leading to improved morale, motivation and performance. 

The impact of workplace wellbeing strategies

An increasing body of research highlights the significant impact of workplace wellbeing on productivity, creativity and overall job satisfaction. Yet fostering a culture that genuinely promotes wellbeing involves more than just surface-level perks. It requires a deep dive into the core factors that influence workplace wellness, as well as implementing targeted strategies that address these areas comprehensively.

Everybody has a responsibility to take care of their wellbeing and think about how they impact the wellbeing of others around them. Managers and leaders typically have more power to bring about change and initiatives, as they have support from senior colleagues. This means that their initiatives are more likely to get taken up by the rest of the workforce.

Creating a supportive work environment

Integration of natural elements: infusing the workplace with natural light, indoor plants and access to outdoor spaces can dramatically reduce stress levels. It can also boost mood and productivity. The presence of greenery and natural light purifies the air and also creates a more inviting and calming work environment.

Ergonomic workspaces: tailoring workspaces so that they are designed for efficiency and comfort (otherwise known as ergonomics) is essential for minimising physical discomfort and preventing long-term health issues. Simple adjustments such as ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and monitor stands can make a significant difference to employee comfort and wellbeing.

Allowing for individual differences: when everyone gets treated the same regardless of their individual needs, it can result in resentment and poor work outcomes. Accommodating adjustments for individuals — regardless of their formal physical or mental health status — goes a long way towards helping people feel heard, valued and comfortably engaged in their work.

Break spaces: employees — especially those in client-facing roles or whose social battery gets drained by interacting with others — need somewhere where they can take a break, get physically comfortable and recalibrate emotionally. Quiet zones for relaxation can be beneficial, as can vibrant community areas where people can be social during breaks. A combination of both is ideal. A 2017 survey of 250 UK businesses found that 40% of employees dealing with mental health issues believed that having a chill-out space would improve their wellbeing.

Fostering positive relationships

Being human: emphasise the importance of empathy and understanding in creating an inclusive work environment. Encourage consideration of the unique challenges and backgrounds of each employee, and how these can affect their wellbeing and experience at work.

Regular touchpoints: have a process in place for regularly checking in with people to see how they’re doing. This might be a regular catch up or might involve making use of digital tools that highlight when individuals are struggling and might need some support.

Daily gratitude and positive reflection sessions: to cultivate a culture of positivity and appreciation, propose starting meetings with moments of gratitude or sharing positive stories. Some organisations have found it useful to incorporate playful solutions to acknowledge contributions, for instance, sending virtual appreciation tokens or actual rewards.

Volunteering and community service: increasingly, people want to feel that what they’re doing matters. If there isn’t a direct social impact from people’s input, alternatives might be company-organised volunteer days or charity work as a way to build team cohesion. This also provides a sense of purpose beyond the workplace.

Promoting work-life harmony

Flexible scheduling: offering flexible working hours and remote work options allows employees to work when they are most productive. It also helps them to balance their personal and professional commitments more effectively. This flexibility is key to reducing stress and enhancing job satisfaction.

Unplugging policies: encouraging employees to disconnect from work communications outside of work hours is vital for mental health and wellbeing. For those who want to work flexibly outside of usual working hours, scheduling emails to send within working times can help relieve the pressure on others to respond at unsociable hours. Implementing clear policies that respect personal time can help prevent burnout and promote a healthier work-life balance.

Fostering personal and professional growth

Continuous learning opportunities: providing access to learning resources — such as online courses, workshops and seminars — supports ongoing professional development and personal growth. This both benefits the employee and also contributes to the organisation's innovation and adaptability.

Career pathing sessions: regular career development planning sessions can help employees to set and achieve their professional goals. This contributes to a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Building a mental health-friendly workplace

Creating a supportive community: setting up peer support groups or wellness committees can foster a sense of community and shared responsibility. Other examples might include buddy systems, where people from different teams have a chance to get to know each other.

Offering professional mental health services: making mental health professionals available for confidential consultations can offer crucial support for employees' mental health challenges, fostering a culture that prioritises mental wellbeing. Ensure that this information is provided as part of the induction process for new employees, plus send out regular reminders for existing staff, so that people are aware of the support available. 

Stress management resources: there are a number of ways to offer employees the chance to build valuable tools for managing stress and any other emotions that come up at work. Virtual resources can provide bite-sized skills classes to enhance emotional regulation, as well as more significant online interactive webinars. You could also consider in-person sessions on yoga, mindfulness or other stress management techniques. 

Implementation and evaluation

Implementing these strategies requires thoughtful planning and a commitment to continuous improvement. Begin by setting clear wellbeing objectives aligned with your organisation's values. Also aim to involve employees in the planning process to ensure that the initiatives meet their needs. 

To have an impact, any initiative needs to link with the organisation’s other wellbeing initiatives rather than being standalone. Start small with pilot programs and gather feedback for improvement. Stress the importance of leadership support and role modelling in successful implementation.

Suggest measuring the impact of these initiatives through employee surveys and wellbeing metrics. Regularly assessing the impact of well-being initiatives via feedback is crucial for understanding their effectiveness and making necessary adjustments.

Creating a working environment that truly values and promotes employee wellbeing is an ongoing journey. By focusing on the core factors that influence workplace wellness and implementing targeted, empathetic strategies, organisations can foster a more supportive, engaging and productive work culture. 

Integrating Wellbeing into the Workday: Strategies for HR
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