Creating a Culture of Wellness

Creating a Culture of Wellness

Gym memberships, in house massages, healthy snacks and team building weekends. These are all great ways of improving wellness in the workplace, but is it enough? How do we create a culture of wellness that everyone is on board with?

70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.

The Stats

The statistics are overwhelming when it comes to comparing productivity and cost in the workplace against a person’s wellness and mental health.

In fact a survey carried out by Lockheed Martin correlated productivity losses with health problems. They calculated losses as follows:

  • Migraines (4.9% loss)
  • Allergies (4.1% loss)
  • Asthma (5.2% loss)
  • Influenza (4.7% loss)
  • Depression (7.6% loss)

According to mental health problems are the leading cause of sickness absence. 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.

A recent report by the Health and Safety Executive found that the total cost to UK businesses in 2018/2019 from self-reported injuries and ill health was £16.2 billion.

Although we’ve come a long way in recent years to promote wellness with many organisations offering wellness programmes to employees, we have to realise that these will only work if we as a business adopt a culture of wellness throughout the organisation. A wellness programme is worthless if people aren’t using it.

Building Wellness into the organisations values

Having key organisation values that are built around the wellness of employees shows that an organisation is taking wellness seriously. It is very easy to set up a corporate gym membership for example, but taking the time to think about how wellness can be incorporated into an overall strategy and goals, whilst measuring the effectiveness of that strategy, takes it that one step further.

From policies on the food provided at work, to having adequate and comfortable break and working areas. It all begins to work towards the end goal of creating a workplace culture of wellness.

Ask employees. How do they rate the business in terms of wellness provisions? What could be done to improve it?

When people visit the website, is it clear that wellness is a part of the organisations core values?

The centre for mental health at work report found in 2018 that over 60% of employees thought their employer should be doing more to address mental health issues. Can we really afford not to take wellness seriously?


There are many wellness policy templates available online including this template from St John’s Ambulance which gives many examples of objectives and actions that businesses can include in a workplace wellness policy.

Cost optimisation
Leading Sustainability
Wellness and Balance

Improving participation in Wellness

You can have the policies, programmes and provisions in place for wellness in the workplace, but if the executives at the top aren’t taking it seriously or the objections are too easy, then employees simply won’t take part.

There are some key things a business can do to encourage participation:

  • Show support and lead by example

If the partners and executive board aren’t seen to be taking part in wellness programmes, then employees won’t take it seriously. The executive team need to lead by example and show that the wellness programme isn’t just a tick box exercise, but an initiative that is truly valued and one which they actively take part in.

  • Don’t charge for participation and make it easy

Making it as easy as possibly for people to take part means providing activities at zero cost where possible. If there are activities provided during the day such as health screenings these should be provided during work hours and not on lunch breaks.

  • Ask for feedback

Don’t be afraid of feedback. Ask for it regularly. The results will enable a business to tweak and tailor their wellness programme to make it more effective.

  • Put someone in charge

Make sure that someone is in charge of the wellness programme. Although it usually falls to the HR department, find out who in the company is most passionate about wellness. Do they want to take it on? We all work best when working to our key strengths, so having someone at the forefront who cares deeply about wellness may make a significant difference to the overall shift in culture.

  • Make privacy clear

Privacy today is more important than ever. Ensure that anything involving health is done sensitivity and legally protected. Anyone brought in from outside the organisation should be properly vetted and checked to put employees completely at ease.

Join us for more

Wellness is a vast area on both a business and personal level. It’s one of our core themes in The CIO Circle and we are here to navigate it with you.

Becoming a member of The CIO Circle gives access to free masterminds with industry leading experts on a number of themes designed to help you become an impactful leader. Click here to find out more.

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