Healthy Means Wealthy; Employee Wellness Can Boost Business - 26 February 2020

Healthy Means Wealthy; Employee Wellness Can Boost Business

"Wellness" has become a bit of a buzzword lately. The idea of creating a healthy environment, mentally and physically, for employees is being worn as a badge of honour amongst the trendiest and most successful businesses.

In a competitive job market, the perks on offer to staff range from bowls of fruit to fully subsidised meals, on-site gyms, extended travel leave and dedicated games rooms.

Certainly, more than ever before employees are calling the shots. They seem to have few issues moving on from companies that don't meet their needs or fit their goals. Interestingly, research from BPS World shows that there's more loyalty in the UK than the US; with staff staying in a role an average of 4.5 years, with a third staying for more than six years.

Regardless, this is far removed from the more traditional view of "careers for life" and shows many us will change jobs in our working lifetime. So, that begs the question how to best compete to retain valuable members of staff?

The good news is that you don't necessarily need to engage in crazy perks (stand the builders down) to create a wellness culture in your business. A great many of the most effective methods are quite simple. Even dull.
Still, you might be thinking "what can wellness, actually, do for my business?" Let's address that.


It stands to reason that employees with better mental and physical health are likely to perform better for longer! But if you're still questioning the profound effects promoting a healthy workplace can have – read on:

Regular exercise and less pressure will keep your staff healthy and less likely to succumb to illnesses. They'll spend more time working at the best of their abilities. You win.

Stress is genuinely a killer. Health and productivity. These are two things you want to keep at the top of your agenda. Depression is a serious illness. It can be triggered by the wrong environment and can take people out for long periods. Studies have shown that regular exercise, and supportive environments, massively reduce stress, which in turn reduces anxiety and depression. As well as the obvious, exercise produces hormones like norepinephrine and releases endorphins. Both elevate the mood.

Magic hormones like norepinephrine have also been proven to boost brain function and memory. Recent studies have put increased productivity as high as 89%, with positive changes to multi-tasking and problem-solving abilities.

Nobody is at their best on little sleep. Stress, depression and sickness increase the chances of poor sleep while poor sleep increases the chances of suffering from these problems. Ergo, increased sleep will reduce the issues that hold your employees back. Whilst this is merely scratching the surface of how promoting wellness can benefit your business; the upshot is the happier your team is, the more productive they'll be.


Creating a culture or environment of wellness in your business doesn't need to break the bank. It's often more about changing approach than spending money.

Having the right facilities is often enough to promote fitness. See how you can help employees to cycle to work. Look at the various options for cycle to work and provide a secure place to store the bikes when not in use. Install lockers and showers (if possible) so that cycling – or going to the gym or for a run at lunchtime won't affect the rest of the day.

Consider changing the way you work to better fit the needs of your business and your staff. This can mean anything from allowing remote working, flexible work hours (start and end times) to the growing trend for offering unlimited holidays.

This promotes a sense of trust and loyalty between you and your staff. Of course, old school thinking requires staff to be at a desk working, monitored for their contracted hours. But this has been proven to be counterproductive.

As Susan Cartwright, professor of organisational psychology and wellbeing at Lanschool runs, maternity) and health concerns shows that you respect their work-life balance and they will respect you more for that.

A step too far? An excuse not to work. Nope. The evidence suggests a different story. Holiday is as important to your business as work. Even within the classic structure of limited holiday allowance, it was found in a 2015 study that staff who took their full allowance increased their chances of a pay rise or promotion by 6.5%. This is because they performed better overall.

The fact that only 40% of UK employees use their full holiday entitlement indicates that displaying the high levels of trust with an unlimited holiday policy will not affect output. In fact, some cases have found that, because it is on offer, staff end up taking less holiday feeling they can when they need too.

Nonetheless, introducing unlimited holidays isn't straightforward. You'll need to put new policies and a well worked out structure in place. Changing your approach to a "take what you need" one is likely to promote trust, reduce stress and increase job satisfaction across your business. Undoubtedly, it's worth looking at how other businesses have introduced this and other flexible working options. As ever, what works well for one may not suit another.

Regular one to one meetings, focusing on personal and business matters can reinforce relationships. Having someone to speak to and get support from is a huge positive in the face of mental health issues. It's also worth investing in training staff members as a mental health first aiders.

Lead by example. Provide healthy snack options. If you're considering adding employee benefits to the mix, include subsidised gym memberships, equipment payments (decent running shoes aren't cheap) and access to other classes through the business. By making it as simple as possible to access healthy living, you'll reap the rewards.

It's clear no two businesses are the same, but whether you're a small, medium or large concern, promoting wellness across your team will create a positive boost. And an office of happy, healthy and more productive staff is a rewarding thing to see.

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