Why is workplace wellbeing so important?

A workplace that functions well doesn’t just produce results — it produces happy, engaged employees, too. If you’re going to create a stimulating, healthy environment to meet deadlines, thrive during a crunch period and stay motivated through business downturns, you’ll need to maintain a good level of workplace wellbeing.

But what exactly does this mean?

The truth is, wellbeing in the workplace is more nuanced than a mere snapshot of your staff’s health. It’s a dynamic interplay of physical, mental, and social aspects — and all the moving parts wrapped up in working life.

Prioritising workplace wellbeing as a leader isn’t just an act of altruism — it’s a necessary strategic move. A satisfied  and fulfilled workforce is not only more resilient in the face of challenges, but also inherently more productive. Businesses that recognise this invest both in the skills of their employees and in fostering an environment where wellbeing is nurtured.

Looking to go beyond the corporate checkbox and build towards a more positive working culture? Here, we’ll delve into the meaning of workplace wellbeing, how its neglect could compromise your team, and how your organisation could benefit from improved wellbeing.

What is workplace wellbeing?

Workplace wellbeing encompasses all aspects of an employee’s professional and personal life, as well as the influences that could affect their physical, mental and emotional health.

A successful approach to improving workplace wellbeing ensures that employees reach their performance potential healthily and happily. This might involve arrangements for flexible working, fair compensation, employee coaching and more.

Ensuring workplace wellbeing requires an integrative approach that draws on best practices for physical, mental, and emotional health — especially considering the rise of work-related stress and associated health problems following the pandemic and recent economic turmoil.

Workplace wellbeing is influenced by a broad range of factors, including:

  • Physical health — illness, injury, ergonomics of workspaces and equipment, opportunities for physical activity, adequate breaks and rest periods.
  • Mental and emotional health — stress management, conflict resolution, mental illness, available mental health resources.
  • Workplace culture — colleague relationships, communication and management styles, demands of role, compensation and benefits, inclusive and diverse organisational culture.
  • Personal development — career advancement opportunities, new learning, access to mentorship and development coaching, recognition and feedback.

As a result, workplace wellbeing presents an industry-agnostic challenge with far-reaching consequences, putting pressure on HR services to provide tools that will promote wellness.

What does poor wellbeing in the workplace look like?

Poor workplace wellbeing manifests in various ways, creating ripple effects that not only affect your individual employees, but the wider organisation too.

These are some of the key effects of poor workplace wellbeing:

  • Presenteeism — ‘Presenteeism’ refers to employees being physically present at work, but not fully engaged due to health issues or stress. This phenomenon can lead to decreased efficiency, lower quality of work, and a negative impact on team morale. Ultimately, it could compromise your organisational performance as employees struggle to operate at their optimal capacity.
  • Sick days — Frequent or prolonged sick leave is a clear indicator of poor wellbeing in the workplace. High rates of absenteeism can result in disrupted workflows, increased workloads for remaining staff, and potential delays in project timelines. This not only hampers productivity but may also contribute to a strain on team dynamics and overall organisational resilience.
  • High staff turnover — A rotating door of staff joining and exiting the business suggests dissatisfaction among employees. This can be a costly issue for your organisation, involving recruitment expenses, training investments, and the loss of institutional knowledge. It also makes it challenging to build a stable, collaborative team without these bedrock relationships.
  • Quiet quitting — ‘Quiet quitting’ is a phenomenon that has seen a massive uptick in recent years. It describes when an employee mentally disengages from their work while still remaining physically present. This subtle form of resignation can lead to a decline in creativity, collaboration, and overall team synergy. Over time, it may erode your organisational culture and impact the collective drive toward common goals.
  • Workplace conflict — Poor wellbeing often contributes to increased interpersonal tensions, usually on account of poor mental health in the workplace. Unresolved disputes can create a toxic environment, hinder effective communication, and impede collaboration. This might disrupt daily operations and undermine the sense of cohesion and unity necessary for a healthy work culture.
  • Ill health — A workforce experiencing ill health is a clear sign of poor wellbeing in the workplace. Beyond the immediate impact on individuals, it can result in increased healthcare or leave costs for the organisation, productivity declines, and potential legal ramifications. A staggering 76% of employees force themselves to attend work despite being ill — a symptom of wider organisational failure if staff don’t feel like they have the capacity or entitlement to take time off for rest and recovery when they need it.

What are the benefits of good wellbeing in the workplace?

Now that we understand a little more about the toll that poor workplace wellbeing could take on your organisation, let’s think about the flip side. What are the effects of good workplace wellbeing?

1. Enhances employee engagement

Prioritising workplace wellbeing creates many benefits for the willing organisation — one of the more pronounced effects that you may not have considered is that it creates a foundation for deepened employee engagement. A workplace investing in its people cultivates a sense of belonging and emotional investment among employees. Feeling valued and supported, staff are more inclined to show up as the best version of themselves and commit to the organisation’s success in every duty they carry out.

This is especially important in the current climate for hybrid and remote working. As the lines blur between professional and personal environments, a new managerial responsibility has emerged for leaders to motivate their staff wherever they’re logging in from — be it the office, their kitchen, or a remote cafe somewhere on the continent.

A workplace that prioritises wellbeing acknowledges these challenges and responds empathically to employee needs. By fostering a culture of wellbeing, you can support not only your staff’s health but also fortify their engagement.

2. Improves mental health in the workplace

In recent years, HR leaders have noted a surge in work-related stress and its effects on mental wellbeing. This has made it all the more important to destigmatise, and where possible, mitigate issues associated with mental health.

During the pandemic, we did see an uptick in the number of companies investing in mental wellbeing for their staff. According to Headspace, 71% of employees claim their employers increased their focus on mental health during COVID-19. However, just 25% say that they’ve kept this up.

Unmanaged stress not only weighs on an individual staff member, but it can also cast a long shadow on the rest of the team, affecting mood and even physical health. This problem can easily trickle down throughout the corporate hierarchy — according to Ipsos, 79% of managers report feeling overworked or stressed, which can be passed on through conflict with direct reports. A workplace that neglects mental health runs the risk of diminishing employee wellbeing and compromising organisational success.

On the other hand, the benefits of prioritising mental health in the workplace are twofold. Firstly, it helps reduce the likelihood of undue stress and mental health effects emerging. Secondly, it equips individuals with the resources needed to navigate any stressors that do arise. Essentially, it’s both a compassionate investment in employee welfare and a strategic move for your business.

3. Grows productivity and performance

Initiatives aimed at enhancing wellbeing, such as flexible working arrangements, coaching programmes, and mindfulness activities, resonate beyond employee satisfaction — they create an environment that supports optimal performance.

Feeling healthy, energised and capable in the workplace translates into heightened focus and capacity for high-quality work. Flexible work arrangements, for instance, empower individuals to find their balance between personal and professional responsibilities, and comfortably produce work they can be proud of without risking burnout.

The equation is clear — good wellbeing is good for business. Organisations stand to gain tangible benefits from more productivity, such as higher revenue and decreased costs associated with absenteeism.

By recognising the interplay between wellbeing and performance, businesses can cultivate an environment where individuals thrive and contribute to the sustained success of the organisation.

4. Cultivates a strong company culture

Managers, reports and entire teams are most receptive to one another when each individual feels confident and engaged. This is why leaders who prioritise workplace wellbeing are invaluable when it comes to building robust team dynamics and a positive company culture.

Initiatives aimed at employee wellbeing create a culture which encourages collaboration, open communication, and a shared commitment to organisational values. With this renewed sense of belonging, employees are more likely to respond well to team-building and collaboration efforts. Participating in wellness activities together, for example, whether it’s a fitness class or mindfulness workshop, creates opportunities for colleagues to strengthen their team dynamics.

A critical aspect of fostering strong team dynamics is the space for personal development that wellbeing initiatives provide. When employees are supported in their overall growth, including maturity, communication skills, and collaboration abilities, it naturally translates into a healthier and more productive working environment. And as individuals evolve, so does the collective strength of the team.

Your average employee has been a part of plenty of different teams, and they’ll know what a good working culture looks like. In fact, Adobe’s Future of Time report found that 78% of people are searching for a more supportive work culture, highlighting the importance of company dynamics for employee satisfaction.

5. Helps attract and retain talent

The job market is notoriously competitive, whether you’re approaching it as an employer or employee. So, it’s paramount that you attract and retain the right talent to head up your operations. But potential employees aren’t just swayed by salary packages and job titles; they seek employers who prioritise their wellbeing in the workplace.

Organisations that demonstrate a genuine commitment to employee wellness stand out and attract skilled professionals, encouraging them to stay and thrive as part of the business.

To navigate this, organisations must recognise that the right offer of support will go beyond traditional perks. High-performing individuals are likely to actively seek out environments that will nurture both their skills and personal growth. This extends beyond occupational learning and development, encompassing elements of wellbeing such as work-life balance, support for mental health in the workplace, and positive culture.

If you want to hire the best of the best, you need to signal more than just competence to your prospective staff — but a genuine commitment to their wellness at work.

  1. Nurtures business creativity and innovation

Workplaces that put wellbeing first are a fertile ground for new ways of thinking. A healthy, adaptable work environment provides employees with the mental space they need to think outside of the box, driving a culture of innovation that could grow your business.

When employees are not burdened by excessive stress or burnout, they’re more likely to engage in proactive problem-solving, challenge the status quo, and explore novel approaches to their jobs. This tends to be accompanied by a genuine investment in their work.

From working with our partners, we’ve witnessed firsthand how organisations that prioritise employee wellbeing can unlock new directions for growth and respond dynamically to ever-changing market demands.

Sanctus supports workplace wellbeing through development coaching

Only through nurturing the physical, emotional, and mental health of your staff in the workplace can you create an environment for employees to work well and drive business success.

Sanctus coaches help businesses small and large to transform their approach to employee wellness. By combining both professional and personal development programmes into several integrative solutions, we support staff with everything from 1-2-1 coaching to guided group coaching sessions, that empowers employees both in and out of work and helps them discover useful strategies to support workplace wellbeing.

Learn about our mission or get in touch with one of our coaches today to find out more about what sets Sanctus’s human-first coaching apart.