Are employee wellbeing programmes the key to improving productivity?


The concept of employee wellbeing is of growing importance in workplaces worldwide. It is a broad term with numerous definitions and in a workplace and wellbeing report, Dr Bridget Juniper defined it as: “The area of overall wellbeing that is primarily determined by the workplace.” In addition, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) describe employee wellbeing as: “The creation of an environment that allows an employee to reach their full potential for themselves as well as their organisation.”

In 2014, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sought to determine whether the level of wellbeing had a direct effect on employee productivity rate. Their research showed there were positive links between the level of wellbeing and employees’ job performance. A higher level of wellbeing enabled workers to be more effective and creative with problem solving whilst improving attitudes towards collaborative working. Though the definition is extensive, multiple studies clearly have shown a definitive relationship exists between employee wellbeing and productivity.

The impact of wellbeing on employee productivity

Improving the general health of employees has been shown to increase the level of productivity for organisations. The NHS announced a £5 million initiative that offered fitness activities such as Zumba and yoga in an attempt to improve rates of staff absence due to poor health.

A prominent topic impacting employee wellbeing is break allowance. There is concern that employees often do not take their lunch break away from their desk and in 2014, Bupa surveyed 2,000 office workers and found that almost 64 per cent didn’t take their legally required break. This resulted in 30 per cent of respondents stating that they often felt ill due to skipping their break. 40 per cent of those surveyed added that without taking a break, they felt their productivity would decrease.

A lack of wellbeing support can also affect the productivity for the overall organisation. Figures suggest that the cost of decreased productivity caused by poor employee wellbeing in the UK amounts to £15.1 billion each year with the annual cost of sickness absence at £1,500 per employee.

Are organisations doing enough for their employees?

Despite the extensive research, statistics show that many workplaces are yet to implement wellbeing schemes. A 2013 survey revealed that two thirds of organisations were yet to introduce wellbeing schemes into the workplace. The lack of evidence of financial returns from employee wellbeing initiatives is often cited as a barrier to their widespread adoption. Only 16 per cent of organisations would use the health of their employees as a factor to measure the success of their programme.

Developing a wellbeing scheme

So who should be taking responsibility for the wellbeing of employees in the workplace? Acas recommend that both management and employees should work together to create a wellbeing programme specific to the organisation. Be it a healthy food menu for the office canteen or installing high quality equipment that removes the stress of manual tasks, by clearly defining their goals, companies can implement successful wellbeing initiatives that boost the productivity of the entire organisation.

Promoting employee productivity and wellbeing is a core concern for Rexel. By developing high quality products to enhance the workplace, we hope to support employee wellbeing and boost productivity. Find out more about the team and receive exclusive offers and updates by subscribing to our newsletter here.