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Is work wellbeing working well?

19 January, 2024

How does your workplace support your wellbeing? Over half of UK employers have adopted formal staff wellbeing strategies, which often offer individual-level initiatives. This might include mindfulness apps, yoga classes, life coaching and stress management training. Whilst these can seem attractive, recent research has shown that these initiatives actually do little to boost employees’ mental health and wellbeing.   

The study published by the Industrial Relations Journal, was based on survey data from 46,336 workers in 233 organizations in the UK. Across multiple subjective wellbeing indicators, employees who participated in individual-level mental wellbeing interventions appeared no better off than employees who did not. This result was consistent across different types of workers and sectors. 

This doesn’t come as a huge surprise to us. We have spoken before about how workplace wellbeing issues can’t be fixed by just focusing on individual initiatives. If you really want to improve areas such as mental health, sense of belonging, and burnout, then the root causes of these within the organisation need to be changed. This recent study adds weight to this argument, being the largest of its kind and spanning across hundreds of organisations.  

As the study’s author, William Fleming at the University of Oxford, points out “there’s growing consensus that organisations have to change the workplace and not just the worker”. This means initiatives providing more flexibility in, when, and where you work, increased job security, better resourcing to manage overtime, improved performance reviews and management practices. 

We hope these findings spur employers to think again and invest in wellbeing initiatives that are going to have an impact for their employees, and therefore the work they do.

By Alice Railton

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