Fundamentals to Workplace Well-being

In this article, I’ll be arguing why value and respect are
fundamental to workplace well-being, not salary or perks.

Writing for The
, Cary Cooper and Ivan Robertson hit the nail on the head when
they said, “There is a real difference between happiness gimmicks and
working in a well-being culture.”

A well-being culture, they refer to as “One that values
people, manages them by praise and reward rather than fault-finding, and that
enables them to work flexibly and provides them with work-life balance.”

All too often workplace well-being is ceremoniously honoured
through fruit bowls, the odd free lunch and if employees are lucky the
occasional massage. Employers have jumped on the bandwagon with trendy
initiatives that are supposedly the key to keeping employees happy and well,
but have they missed the point?

How often are well-being programmes borne out of a genuine compassion for employees? Is workplace well-being simply being seen as the latest business initiative that promises to unlock greater productivity?

Employee well-being
isn’t boosted by perks

The key to happiness and well-being at work isn’t perks. Now
ubiquitous with employee wellness programmes, yoga classes, gym subscriptions
and breakfast smoothies are great, but they don’t constitute workplace

Things are nothing more than glorified perks, and while
nice, they do nothing to address the real causes
of ill-health in the workplace
, such as backache, RSI, eye-strain, anxiety,
stress and depression.

According to Wrike,
almost 60 percent of workers say they have taken a pay cut to accept a job that
made them happier. Workplace stress is exacting an unprecedented psychological

Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at
Manchester Business School, says of gimmicky perks that they quite often hinder
workplace well-being not support it – he points out in a BBC report
on work-life
, that the free evening meals perk for those staying at work
late may be seen by an employer as supporting well-being, but it is merely
reinforcing a long-hours culture which is actually damaging to health.

needs a cultural shift

Insights by global management consulting company McKinsey
determine that job autonomy and social support are the overlooked
essentials of employee well-being

Alex Heaton, founder of health and wellness digital
platform, LiveSmart, said in an interview with Real Business,
“If a business wants to embed healthy behaviours in the workplace, they need
to change the culture.”

Heaton has introduced a number of initiatives that encourage
staff to strike a good work-life balance and believes well-being should come
from the top. Heaton embodies the healthy behaviours he knows will benefit his

Artemis Marketing is
one of many companies trying to avoid useless perks and stick with simple,
workable solutions to support workplace well-being.

Managing Director of Artemis, Mike Knivett, says,

“We encourage staff to take
regular walks outside to take a break from their screen. Our offices are based
on a farm in the beautiful Sussex countryside, it would be ludicrous not to
ensure our staff make the most of that.

“Employee well-being is an
important part of our culture, not in a ‘faddy perks’ kind of way, but from a
place that we genuinely care about our people and want them to feel well, both
out of and in the workplace.”

“We do what we can to keep
stress to a minimum. We think that simple things like restricting access to
emails over the weekend is much more effective in reducing stress than putting
on a yoga class at lunch-time.”

valued and respected is fundamental to well-being

Some of the most basic human desires are to feel valued,
appreciated and respected. According to a report in the Harvard
Business Review
when you ask workers what matters most to them, feeling
respected by superiors often tops the list.

“Employees who say they feel
respected are more satisfied with their jobs and more grateful for–and loyal
to–their companies. They are more resilient, cooperate more with others,
perform better and more creatively, and are more likely to take direction from
their leaders. Conversely, a lack of respect can inflict real damage.”

According to MIND, a leading mental health charity in the
UK, 1 in 6 workers is currently experiencing a mental health problem, such as
stress, anxiety or depression.

In a resource on mentally
healthy workplaces
, MIND say, “Smart employers know that organisations
are only as strong as their people – they depend on having a healthy and
productive workforce.”

MIND point to the strong relationship between staff
well-being, motivation and business performance.

“Engagement is about
recognising that employees, if they are to perform at their best, must be
respected, involved, heard, well-led and valued. Approaches such as flexible
working, building resilience and staff development contribute to good

Feeling valued and respected is fundamental to well-being,
whether we are in the workplace or not. Employee engagement and business
success cannot happen without a culture of trust and respect – a place where
people feel valued and can develop and contribute. Ignoring mental well-being
at work is disrespectful and comes at a cost to employers in lost productivity,
high staff turnover and absenteeism.

Alas, many businesses are missing the key ingredient for achieving successful workplace well-being. It comes down to employees feeling respected and valued. Nothing motivates a person more than that. Feeling respected and valued is good for our mental health. Putting this at the heart of any well-being programme is the key to creating a thriving and successful business.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

Value and respect are fundamental to workplace well-being

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