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Top tips for improving workplace wellbeing

26th Mar 2010
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Jamie-Natalie Cross explains why wellbeing is a business strategy and offers tips to help get your workforce in shape.

Now that spring has finally sprung (and it really has been a long time coming!) people are starting to think about losing the winter bulge that’s kept them warm over the last six months and employees may be more health conscious than they have been in recent months. With staff already more open to the idea of getting fit, now is the time for employers to put this goodwill to use and implement a wellbeing plan in the workplace.

Why should employers care about the fitness of their staff? It’s simple – healthy workers mean happy workers, which means they’re more likely to stay on with the company and perform their duties better with more enthusiasm. It also reduces the amount of sick time they have to take, which in turn saves the business money. The time for commuting between your desk chair and your sofa without breaking a sweat has passed. Now is the time to come up with a plan and get everyone on board. After all, as the proverb says ‘He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything’. Below are a few tips to help you get started.

Consult staff
Create a questionnaire to assess employees’ views on how their working environment can be improved. Questions such as; ‘Do you think you have acceptable space to relax at lunch time?’ or ‘if there were company sports events, would you attend?’ would work well. Then leave a space at the end where staff can provide their own suggestions as to how their wellbeing at work might be enhanced. Be prepared to listen to the views you get and act on them.


If you want to encourage workers to ditch those detrimental habits, you’ll need to get them to recognise the benefits. One of the most common of these is smoking, but it’s not easy one to overcome. The aim here is not to enforce rules or guilt trip people about smoking on-site, but to encourage and offer support to those who wish to stop and become healthier. The NHS provides advice and support for those wishing to implement workplace stop smoking campaigns and in some cases can send a healthcare professional into your office to give lunchtime support seminars. (We did it here at AccountingWEB towers and although not everyone was able to quit permanently straight afterwards, it did help!)

Cycle to work schemes
If your company isn’t already involved in the government’s Cycle to Work scheme, it’s worth investigating. The scheme enables employers to purchase bicycles tax free, which employees can then buy from the company by paying instalments from their salaries each month.

Regular breaks are essential for boosting productivity and ensuring that employees’ concentration levels remain high. To encourage employees to take this valuable downtime during the day, companies should consider creating a ‘chill out zone’ if possible where staff can relax at lunch time and get away from their desks. This needn’t be a costly exercise – a quiet space with a few comfy chairs is all that’s required.


While you can’t tell employees what to eat, they might be more encouraged to get their ‘five a day’ if the company was able to offer a regular supply of fruit. This might encourage more healthy snacking, rather than employees dashing out for crisps, cakes and other unhealthy treats. Many local greengrocers offer preferential rates for business customers and can deliver a weekly box of seasonal fruits straight to your door. Smoothies are another great way of getting your five a day, so it might be worth investing in a smoothie maker or blender for the office kitchen and encouraging staff to make their own at lunch time.


Emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing and a positive outlook is essential to success. In order to help staff feel happier and more appreciated at work, it’s important to take time to speak to them individually about how they’re progressing and what they’re aiming for. Show encouragement and understanding and let them know that you appreciate their commitment to their work. One to one meetings may be time consuming, but they are a powerful motivational tool and will help staff feel more connected to you and the company.



Replies (5)

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By cymraeg_draig
26th Mar 2010 19:04

I really dont agree

Quit smoking, cycle to work, 5 a day - sounds like someone has read too many government propoganda leaflets.

The key to a "healthy" work environment is simple. A HAPPY workforce.  And you make them happy by respecting their needs and providing them with whatever facilities they want, including somewhere to smoke if they want to, without feeling guilty about it and without anyone whinging at them.

I had a conservatory added to the side of my home - its a few steps from the offices next door to the conservatory, and staff can go there to smoke if they want. Perfectly legal, and no trouble at all. We even have umbrellas by the door in case its raining.

The LAST thing any employer should do is in any way even think about trying to impose "life style" changes on employees.  You employ them, you dont own them.

And guess what?  If you leave them alone and let them "do their own thing" lots of them do decide to stop smoking or get more excercise, but they do it when THEY are ready to and when THEY want to, not when some employer or government busy body orders them to.

The result is that you have a happy, content, relaxed workforce who actually enjoy coming to work, who dont feel under any pressure, and who are far more productive as a result. Whats more, you eliminate the biggest killer of all - stress.

So whilst I agree with your sentiments, I take issue with your methods and indeed some of your aims.


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By SteveOH
28th Mar 2010 20:31

Well said Mr Dragon

or may I call you Welsh:)

I've read many posts by WD over the months and am always impressed by his attitude and behaviour towards his staff. I remember a few weeks back he mentioned somebody he employed, who wasn't given a second glance by others because of a slight criminal act, and is now his most trusted employee of 30 years. Very forward thinking. (And I hope that I got the gist of that correct).

There was a piece on the tv a few years back about Britain's best employer. He told his staff that they could work whatever hours they wanted, whatever days they wanted as long as they completed their allocated work over the course of the month. They maybe arranged their work around their children, or worked so that they had a long weekend. And it doesn't take a genius to work out that none of them took the proverbial, all allocated work was done and they thought that their boss was the bees knees.

If you treat employees like adults, they will behave like adults. If you act like a nanny, they will behave like children.

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By cymraeg_draig
28th Mar 2010 22:56


Thanks for the kind words, but I'm no saint, nor am I religious or anything else.  I simply take people as I find them and dont put on airs & graces. We actually have 2 employees with, shall we say "a past".  Both were clients in my legal work, and neither had a chance unless we, or someone, gave them a break.  One had served a long stretch for armed robbery - or as he puts it, he made an unauthorised withdrawal. 

The other was a lady who had, shall we say resorted to desparate measures to feed her child and who I defended pro bono. In fact, thinking about it, 30 years later she still hasnt paid me for that - I must send her an invoice :).

We also still give work experience and support to ex offenders and have built up a network of contacts willing to offer them positions in a variety of trades from building to retail work. I also have some involvement with a group that offers a "half way house" and a new start in life to women who have, lets say, resorted to the oldest profession. 

It really is fantastic to see them a few years later, healthy, happily married, respectable, settled.

I often read on here about "team building" and other theories, but you know, wouldn't it be great, if instead of wasting money on pointless excercises like that, firms got involved with local charities and co-workers went out at night helping to run soup kitchens for the homeless, and providng them with warm clothing and helping to get them off the streets.  Yes you will encounter distressing things, like drug addicts, aggression, alcoholism.  All the things that are encountered in the courts every day too.  But behind those problems are people crying out for help, for someone to just extend a hand and give a little help.

One company I know sends its entire workforce out for one week every year (on full pay) to clear and tidy gardens for old people who cant manage and to decorate their homes.  It costs the company a weeks wages, but, its a hell of a team building excercise.

We take from the communities in which we operate, and I see no reason why we shouldnt put something back into those communities. But, again, staff are never forced to become involved, it is purely voluntary. We simply give them the opportunity if they want to, and most do.

What do we as a company, get out of it?  Financially nothing - it costs us.  But it makes us all feel a hell of a lot better about ourselves, and I dont know how you put a value on that.


Try researching how Google run their offices - they have a similar attitude to ourselves - except on a somewhat larger scale.



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By SteveOH
29th Mar 2010 11:24

You're an inspiration

Though I'm not sure if I would have the courage to take on an ex armed bank robber. I'd forever be guarding the petty cash box:)

It's a shame more employers are not as enlightened as you. That's the backslapping over with now, thank you very much.

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By cymraeg_draig
29th Mar 2010 12:48


Though I'm not sure if I would have the courage to take on an ex armed bank robber. I'd forever be guarding the petty cash box:)


Why not?  He's great at negotiating bank overdrafts :)

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