Mar 10, 2020 | by Magdalena Soffia

Improving workplace wellbeing in effective, sustainable, and evidence-informed ways: new guidance

Today we publish online guidance that builds on the existing evidence of what works to improve wellbeing in the workplace. And you can sign up to get access to our wellbeing cost-effectiveness calculator launching in the coming months.

When it comes to improving wellbeing in the workplace, context matters. The guidance sets out three questions to ask yourself when thinking about how you can improve wellbeing. It then outlines five principles for action that can underpin any activities, policies, or approaches to make them more likely to be sustainable.

Three questions about your context

  • Where are you now?

What are the social norms on health and wellbeing in your workplace? What organisational processes and systems might be helping, or holding back, the wellbeing of different staff members? What’s your capacity and knowledge to deliver health and wellbeing programmes? What are the specific labour market conditions your organisation is facing, and how might these relate to employee wellbeing?

  • What does improved and embedded wellbeing look like in your workplace? 

What structures and processes might make the programme easier to implement? What attempts are there to change the organisational culture, for example establishing health and wellbeing steering committees or other governance structures? How is evaluation built in to all projects, and how will the results be shared?

  • How can you sustain wellbeing in your workplace?

What tangible changes to how people work and to workplaces will lead to lasting and positive wellbeing effects?

These three areas are interconnected, and changes in one area can lead to changes in others. From the evidence we have drawn out five principles of communication, coherence, commitment, consistency and creation underpin success in each area.

Five principles to underpin wellbeing action

The five principles are:

  1. Communication – a key thread running through many successful initiatives is ongoing communication about wellbeing. 
  2. Commitment – This is about perseverance. The evidence shows that, in many cases, it is possible to overcome things that can get in the way of successfully implementing a workplace health and wellbeing programme.
  3. Consistency – The vital thing here is ensuring compatibility with existing processes, systems and organisational norms – but only where existing processes, systems and organisational norms are not toxic for health and wellbeing. Attaining consistency with existing ways of doing things reduces the scope for conflict and resistance.
  4. Coherence – It is important to ensure workplace health and wellbeing programmes are coherent, in that there is a consistent narrative on the importance of wellbeing that is evident to front line workers, line and middle managers and senior managers. As well as through communication, this comes from having elements of the programme that are self-reinforcing and integrated, rather than working against each other or duplicating something that was introduced in the recent past.
  5. Creativity – Creating new social norms or organisational processes about wellbeing is necessary where existing norms or processes are toxic to wellbeing: Examples might be social norms that tolerate bullying, encourage unsafe working practices and excessive hours.

Making wellbeing improvement cost-effective

We are developing a cost-effectiveness calculator for anyone carrying out, or planning to carry out, activities or projects to improve workplace wellbeing. 

Sign up below to get advance access when we launch the calculator in the coming months.

Calculator sign up

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Guidance for better workplace wellbeing

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Guidance for better workplace wellbeing

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