The Importance Of Workplace Wellbeing

What’s more important than being healthy and happy at work? Here at The Happiness Index, we don't think there is anything more important! If you’re instantly thinking of profits, customer service and market share - then you should read on to find out why workplace wellbeing is so important to your bottom line.

The importance of workplace wellbeing

2023 had the highest sickness absence rate for over a decade - CIPD

We spend a shockingly high percentage of our lives at work. One whole third in fact! This means if we're unhappy, unhealthy or have any other issues regarding wellbeing then our work will ultimately be impacted.

Failing to establish a culture that makes employee wellbeing a cornerstone can lead to current employees wandering and your organisation being unappealing to the next generation of workers - who often value happiness over pay and benefits.

As an organisation it doesn't matter how much time and resources you've put towards building a strong vision and brand, improving your product/services and investing in new tech - your business will fail if you overlook the most important element of your business, your people.

The Importance Of Health & Wellbeing In The Workplace

37% of employees say work related stress has contributed to serious mental health challenges, such as substance use or suicidal ideation - Headspace

Last year the Government reported 1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, of which:

  • 914,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety

  • 477,000 workers suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder

  • 123,000 workers suffering from COVID-19 which they believe may have been from exposure to coronavirus at work

Every successful company is dependent on healthy and productive employees – but more importantly than that – a caring and empathetic employer will ensure employee wellbeing and happiness remains a key focus. 

Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic pushed employee wellbeing to the top of boardroom agendas over recent years, we are recording record highs of illness, in particular mental health issues...

According to 2024s Burnout Report 9 in 10 adults have experienced high or extreme stress in the past year, with work-related stress taking it's toll on 7 out of 10 of us. The UK's National Health Service states that the principal reason for work stress is a lack of support or understanding from managers and leaders. When people are stressed, exhausted and feel that they aren’t listened to in the workplace it can be detrimental to their health, happiness and performance.

There is a lot of evidence that supports the correlation between employee wellbeing and performance. If you look after your employees they will return the favour tenfold. Valued and supported staff are far more likely to deliver better outcomes for your organisation. They will happily go above and beyond – even more so if they are aligned with your vision and goals.

Poor Physical Wellbeing Leads To:

Poor Mental Wellbeing Leads To:

  • Missed work days – An estimated 18 million working days a year are lost due to mental health issues.

  • Lost revenue – Mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £117.9 billion annually according to a report published by Mental Health Foundation and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

  • Staff turnover – According to Deloitte 61% of people planning to leave their jobs cited poor mental health as the reason for leaving.

How Neuroscience Helps Us Understand Wellbeing

Happy employees are 13% more productive, on average - Spill

The Happiness Index has taken the principles of neuroscience to form our own unique methodology to help us understand the triggers that can harm the physical and mental wellbeing of both our employees and our customers’ employees.

We predominantly focus on the instinctive brain system of the employee for health and the rational brain when it comes to organisational support. In layman’s terms, neuroscience helps us to understand people’s instinctive responses to their mental and physical health and the rational enablement of organisational support.

Mental Health:

Here we are focused on the issues relating to our psychological safety, which sits in our Instinctive brain system. For example, the positivity of relationships, healthy work-life balance and levels of stress.

Physical Health:

Next, we look at our physical health where we - once again - focus on our instinctive brain system. This time it’s the need to stay fit and healthy. This is predominantly focused on energy, nutrition, health and physical activity.

Organisational Support:

When we understand the mental and physical wellbeing of our people the real work happens! This is where organisations need to step in to ensure they are doing all they can to improve/sustain wellbeing and they are fostering the right company culture

Organisations that focus on these three areas position themselves as empathetic leaders who truly care. This creates a thriving and healthy culture where people will be motivated to come to work and help businesses fulfil their goals. More about the brain systems here.

7 Tips To Improve Workplace Wellbeing

1. Focus On Mental Health

Many companies provide easy access to plenty of drinking water, a gym membership scheme, or other physical health interventions… but it’s important not to forget about mental wellbeing. Headspace reported that  “71% say their company increased focus on mental health because of the pandemic, but only 25% say they’ve kept that focus up.” A worrying statistic! Consider a workplace mental health survey to find out what's really going on with your people and how best you can help them.

2. Keep An Eye Out For Burnout

Burnout is a very real and very prevalent problem in today’s workplace, especially where employees are particularly engaged. According to 2024 data from The Burnout Report, a fifth of workers hit burning point in the last year, with age being a key factor - The likelihood of someone taking time off work with mental health issues decreased with age.

There are lots of tell-tale signs that your employees may be suffering from burnout – The Journal Of Organisational Behaviour lists fatigue, irritability and health problems. Training your team to spot signs of burnout and create a safe environment where employees feel they have the resources and support to recover is also key. Read our simple guide to spot the signs and understand the differences

Burnout, poor management and leadership concerns creep up as COVID-19-related stress slightly recedes - Headspace

3. Make It OK Not To Be OK

Encourage your team to focus on their mental and physical health, and ensure everyone knows you are a line of support for them.  Ensure everyone understands that they’re able to take time off when they need it – this doesn’t just mean the flu or family bereavements – it can also mean they simply can’t face it! It might seem extreme but creating a supportive workplace where suicide prevention is prioritised is so important in this day and age.

4. Support Financial Health

Financial wellbeing guru, and close friend of The Happiness Index Gethin Nadin, told us that on average people take 3 days off per year due to financial stress. On top of this, Barclays estimated in their Financial Wellbeing report that poor financial wellbeing was costing employers four per cent of their payroll – which included issues relating to mental health. By paying everyone fairly and offering programmes within the organisation to support this, you can help minimise this. You can also help by providing other resources to build financial literacy - We’ve pulled together this useful guide to help employers support their employees with the cost of living crisis as a start. 

Two-thirds of employees who are struggling financially report at least one sign of poor mental health that could affect their ability to function at work. These include loss of sleep, poor concentration, and reduced motivation - Mental Health at Work

5. Provide Work Patterns To Help Reduce Incidences of Presenteeism

Create new, agile ways to work that support the employee. Let them choose what flexible working means! Not only will your team feel more supported and valued but they’re also more likely to open up to you in the future about any wellbeing issues. This is half the battle!

6. Talk About Your Own Mental Health

In order to feel psychologically safe and comfortable speaking up about mental health struggles at work, it's important your people trust in the leadership and people teams. One of the ways to instil trust is being open and honest about personal struggles.

35% of employees report that their company’s leaders talked about their own mental health in 2020. 89% of employees report the same today - Headspace

Fortunately, Headspace are reporting significant growth in the ways that leaders are creating trusted environments where employees can do what they need to support their own mental health stating that "employees are more likely today to say their employer is responsible for helping them manage their mental health (93% in 2024 versus 81% in 2022)."

7. Listen To Your People

Remember, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to wellbeing. You might think you’re supporting your team’s physical and mental health by providing yoga classes, but if they’d rather be going for a walk or meditating, you’re not going to be making as much of an impact as you may have wanted. Don’t guess on people’s behalf. Ask them and let them help you to help create a better culture that fosters better wellbeing for everyone! 

A study from January 2024 found no evidence that individual-level mental health interventions like mindfulness, relaxation classes and wellbeing apps benefit employees. And in fact it is much deeper organisational changes that are likely to play a bigger role in improving wellbeing at work – this means things like more flexibility, improved management practices and job design - Wellbeing Research Centre

For more tips on improving wellbeing in your workplace, check out the following resources:

Workplace Wellbeing Survey

Half of organisations (51%) take a strategic approach to employee wellbeing. These organisations are far more likely to report a number of positive achievements from their activity, at both the individual and organisational level - CIPD

Do you have the insight on how your people have been impacted, to ensure you aren’t facing a ticking wellbeing time bomb? Our Employee Voice survey data highlights that the prolonged nature of the pandemic has depleted resilience levels and people are struggling to replenish them. 

We want to combat this and create a working world where good culture, health and wellbeing are commonplace. So we created a wellbeing Survey! Our Wellbeing pre-built survey is based on 3 themes: Mental health, physical health and organisational support.

  • Understand and combat any anxieties or stresses your people may have.

  • Identify and prevent wellbeing issues and position yourself as an empathetic leader who truly cares.

  • Create a thriving, happy and healthy culture where people will be motivated to come to work and help your business thrive and fulfil its goals.

  • Implement meaningful action plans and benefit schemes to prevent and combat wellbeing issues to build a happy and healthy workplace for the future.

More on wellbeing surveys here.

If you want to take the first step towards creating a workplace of the future that puts employee health, happiness and wellbeing at the top of the agenda, then we'd love to have a chat!

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Linked to Happiness in our neuroscience methodology... learn more

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About The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index helps organisations measure the key employee engagement AND happiness drivers to power their people strategy.

Our unique platform offers the products, insights and tools to shine a light on your cultural health and empower management to drive thriving cultures.

Our neuroscience-based pre-built surveys measure the full employee experience - from onboarding to exit to empower and enable organisations to understand their people and create data-led action plans.


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