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11 Sep 2023

The Complete Guide to Workplace Wellbeing

'The Complete Guide to Workplace Wellbeing' is a must-read for every HR professional aiming to elevate their organisation's success. This guide explores different problems within workplace wellbeing and highlights some key solutions to tackle these issues, underpinned by articles that demonstrate the impact of these solutions. 

In a dynamic business landscape, employee retention, engagement, and overall wellbeing are paramount. From cost-effective strategies to personalised approaches, the guide addresses critical concerns such as budget limitations and one-size-fits-all initiatives. Moreover, it emphasises the significance of accurate metrics and the impact of improved employee wellbeing on absenteeism reduction. By embracing the guide, HR professionals can reshape workplace cultures, foster engagement, and ultimately enhance their company's overall performance.

In this guide:

1. The challenge of employee retention


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Employee retention, critical for organisational stability and success, involves factors like company culture, compensation, and work-life balance. With a transient workforce and evolving market dynamics, retaining talent has become increasingly complex. High employee turnover incurs costs beyond financial, affecting team morale, productivity, and employer branding, complicating talent attraction.

However, employee retention challenges are about more than just retaining every employee but ensuring the right talent stays. This necessitates an in-depth understanding of:


  • Employee engagement

  • Job satisfaction

  • Career development pathways

In an era characterised by rapid technological advancements, shifting workplace norms, and heightened employee expectations, navigating the maze of employee retention can be tiring.

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Solution: improving workplace wellbeing

It is clear that employee retention is a significant problem for many organisations, but the question is how it is being solved. One straightforward way to better employee retention strategies is to improve workplace wellbeing. If your employees are happy and feel valued, they are much more likely to remain part of the organisation. Promoting work-life balance and providing employees with the tools they need to nurture their mental and physical health are key ways this can be done. Syndi Health is a clear path to this - it’s an employee benefits platform that provides your team with various digital health service recommendations, suitable for their unique needs.

Result of improving workplace wellbeing

Many different reports and articles highlight what a massive difference improving workplace wellbeing can make to employee retention and many other aspects of an organisation.

An article in Harvard Business Review titled “What’s the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?” found that organisations with effective workplace wellbeing programmes have lower voluntary attrition than those with ineffective ones. The findings were 9% voluntary attrition in companies with effective wellbeing programmes compared to 15% in companies with ineffective ones.

Another research article in Heliyon Journal titled “Work design, employee wellbeing, and retention intention: A case study of China’s young workforce” highlights how if employee wellbeing increases, then their intention to remain at the organisation also increases. 

2. How to do more with less: offering benefits on a smaller budget 

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In the modern corporate landscape, the importance of employee wellbeing is more recognised than ever before. But what happens when budget constraints bottleneck an organisation's good intentions? The struggle of providing adequate health, wellness, and satisfaction for employees within the confines of a tight budget can be a daunting task for any business.

Tight wellbeing budgets can translate into significant pains and obstacles for companies. It could mean:


  • Less comprehensive employee benefits platform

  • Fewer mental health resources 

  • Minimal investment in the physical work environment

It is not just a financial challenge but a test of values, priorities, and creative problem-solving.
This lack of employee support can result in:


  • Reduced productivity

  • Increased absenteeism 

  • Increased presenteeism

Solution: reduce money wasted on multiple wellbeing solutions 

A tight wellbeing budget should not translate into a lack of support for employees. With the correct strategies, every company's budget, no matter how big or small, can be used effectively to improve employees' mental and physical wellbeing. 

Optimising your workplace wellbeing budget is about ensuring that money is not wasted on multiple services and wellbeing solutions that are not beneficial to your employees. This can be done by ascertaining what people actually use by doing employee surveys and feedback sessions. From this, you can streamline what you provide to employees to prevent money wasting while still providing support to all.

Evidence of doing more with less 

“How to Improve Employee Wellness on a Budget” highlights how improving employee wellness does not have to be a financial burden. It demonstrates how streamlining your wellness programmes and reducing money wasting is vital for companies to do more with less.

Further, “8 Key Benefits of Employee Wellness Programs” showed how wellness programmes lowered healthcare costs for organisations. For every dollar spent on wellness programmes, the company can save around $3.27 due to reduced healthcare costs. This highlights that even spending a small amount on a singular wellness programme can save the company money and reduce waste within the organisation.

3. The pitfalls of one-size-fits-all 


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Adopting a 'one-size-fits-all' approach in corporate wellbeing is simple but often ineffective, as it fails to address the diverse needs of a unique workforce. While standardised solutions are economical and easy to implement, they can be restrictive and inadequate for different employee needs.

Applying one-size-fits-all solutions often leads to:​

  • Dissatisfaction

  • Decreased productivity

  • Lower return on investment

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Solution: personalised path to all 

The best way to overcome the one-size-fits-all issue is to acknowledge that each employee has unique needs. Developing a personalised path for each individual is key to doing this. This can involve ensuring employees have access to multiple workplace wellbeing solutions so they can decide which works best for them.

Evidence of a personalised approach

“How to Get Employees to (Actually) Participate in Well-Being Programs” is an article from the Harvard Business Review highlighting how important a personalised path is to get employees to utilise wellbeing programmes. This demonstrates how the solution to the one-size-fits-all problem is personalisation.

4. Metrics of employee wellbeing 


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The effectiveness of corporate wellness initiatives, which aim to enhance employee holistic health, depends on accurate and comprehensive measurement strategies. Without proper metrics, it's difficult to assess the impact and return on investment of these programmes.

Measurement metrics for workplace wellbeing programmes are vital to gauge the success, efficacy, and efficiency of the implemented wellness strategies. They encompass vital indicators such as:

  • Employee participation rates

  • Overall health improvements

  • Reduced absenteeism

  • Increased productivity

  • Employee satisfaction

  • Any notable shifts in the organisation's culture 

These metrics assess the physical and mental health outcomes and the broader impacts on job satisfaction, engagement, and organisational commitment.

Furthermore, the integration of data analytics and advanced technology has the potential to refine these metrics, providing a more nuanced understanding of wellbeing in the workplace. 

Solution: team score reporting 

A good way of tracking workplace wellbeing is to have team score reporting through mental health dashboards. This allows organisations to track their wellbeing programme's impact and make recommendations and alterations where necessary. 

Gathering these metrics will also allow HR professionals to demonstrate the importance and impact of the wellbeing budget. This will let them illustrate the ROI of the wellbeing budget and show why they may need more to provide the support their employees need. 

Benefits of employee wellbeing metrics

“9 Employee Wellbeing Metrics to Track Right Now” highlights the importance of tracking metrics and gives examples of how to do it. 

Further to this, an article titled “How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Well-Being Program” demonstrates how vital it is to check in with employees via surveys and feedback sessions, as examples, to measure the impact of wellbeing support. This allows appropriate and necessary feedback and reporting on the wellbeing programmes to ensure they provide the support needed.

5. How to rectify low engagement 


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Organisations globally focus on employee wellbeing through retention strategies and wellness programmes to boost health, morale, and productivity. However, a significant challenge they face is low engagement in these wellbeing programmes, with well-intentioned initiatives struggling to attract active employee participation.

Several factors contribute to this lack of engagement, including:


  • Lack of communication and awareness

  • Perceived lack of time

  • Limited personal relevance

  • Insufficient organisational support

Furthermore, wellbeing initiatives often fail to meet diverse employee needs, leading to low engagement and effectiveness. This one-size-fits-all approach results in missed health outcomes, satisfaction levels, and return on investment.

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Solution: personalised recommendations

Personalisation is a critical way in which companies can encourage employees to utilise their wellbeing programmes to their full potential. When a one-size-fits-all approach is all that is available to employees, it can often leave individuals feeling overlooked and their needs not being valued. This will result in poor engagement with the programmes, as employees do not think it will help them. 

By offering a personalised approach, employees will find what suits their needs the best and, therefore, are much more likely to engage and use what is provided to them.

Evidence of personalised recommendations for rectifying employee wellbeing

“The Value of Getting Personalisation Right - Or Wrong - is Multiplying” states in marketing and sales that 76% of consumers said receiving personalisation was a crucial factor in promoting their consideration of a brand. This highlights the value of personalisation and how important it is in attracting people to interact with things. It can be extended to personalisation being key in employee wellbeing programmes.

6. Chronic absenteeism in the workplace


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Absenteeism, a frequent pattern of work absence, poses significant direct and indirect costs to businesses, affecting operational continuity, productivity, morale, and profitability. While occasional absences are expected, chronic absenteeism becomes a systemic issue, disrupting workflows, burdening other employees, and fostering a negative work culture. It also diverts resources and management focus from strategic objectives.

The causes of absenteeism are multifaceted, including:


  • Personal health issues

  • Workplace environment

  • Job dissatisfaction

  • Lack of engagement

Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive understanding of these underlying causes and a robust strategy to promote attendance and engagement. This exploration into the complexities of absenteeism aims to understand its root causes, impacts, and potential solutions within today's dynamic business environment.

Solution: improving employee wellbeing

One straightforward way to reduce absenteeism is to improve employee wellbeing. This involves encouraging employees to dedicate time to their mental and physical health and encouraging the uptake of wellbeing programmes. 

Improving wellbeing will reduce absenteeism, leading to improved mental health and employee morale.

Evidence of improved wellbeing reducing absenteeism

Many articles and research papers highlight how improving employee wellbeing can reduce absenteeism. 
One is a paper titled “Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings”. It was found that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent on wellbeing. This unequivocally demonstrates that investing in and therefore improving employee wellbeing reduces absenteeism.
An article in The Times found that 64% of companies say there is an increase in staff asking for counselling. This demonstrates employees' need and want for wellbeing support. This article also states how poor mental health is the leading cause of long-term absence in the workplace.

Further to this, “Corporate UK's Wellness Agenda: A Case for Radical Innovation” states that “mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are among the top 5 reasons employees are absent from work.” This highlights how intertwined wellbeing and absenteeism are. It is recommended in this article that workplaces focus on employee health and wellbeing to reduce absenteeism.

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