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31 Jul 2023
by Stacey Lowman

5 statistics about wellbeing washing all employers should know – poll results

Many employees believe their employers are insincere in their commitment to mental health support

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Wellbeing washing – when an organisation publicly supports mental health initiatives but offers inadequate support to its employees – has become an increasingly important topic for employers in recent months.

Five statistics stood out in Claro Wellbeing’s poll of 1,000 UK workers on the issue.

1. More than half of Gen Zs and Millennials think their employer is wellbeing washing

On average, 38% of employees think their company is guilty of wellbeing washing. But some age groups believe it more than others.

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For example, 54% of Gen Zs and 52% of Millennials said they believed their company was guilty of wellbeing washing, while 42% of Gen X and 29% of Baby Boomers agreed. Indeed, The younger they were, the more likely they were to believe their employer is wellbeing washing.

This is a complex trend with many possible explanations. But one correlation spotted in our data is that younger generations tend to value organisations that care about wellbeing more so than older generations.

For HR and wellbeing leaders, it’s crucial to understand how wellbeing policies, initiatives and activities might be received across an organisation and to try to understand the expectations of employees of different demographics.

2. One in five employees says their employer has been criticised for its wellbeing conduct

Some 23% of employees said their companies had been criticised over their mental wellbeing conduct.

The most common forms of criticism were word of mouth from fellow employees, at nearly 60%, those outside the organisation and online forums like Glassdoor.


One in nine (12%) survey respondents even said their business has been called out multiple times.

A damaged reputation can be difficult to quantify and challenging to repair. In an organisation, trust builds slowly but can be shattered quickly. Our report reveals data on how long it takes firms to recover from a wellbeing washing crisis.

3. Only 36% of organisations’ mental health support is seen positively by employees

Of those surveyed, only 36% of employees said their organisations have mental health support that they deemed ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

This figure is low when you consider that as many as 71% of workplaces celebrate mental health awareness days or weeks. And it signals a clear misalignment in the readiness of employers and employees to share the success of their employee wellbeing programmes.

4. One in three workers does unpaid overtime

As many as 34% of UK employees are putting in more than their contracted hours each week and not being paid for it – risking burnout and the erosion of workplace culture. 22% employees say this amounts to one to five hours of unpaid overtime a week.

Research shows burnout can lead to serious physical and mental health risks for employees. When evaluating an employee wellbeing programme, it is important to consider the contractual mechanics of the employee-employer relationship.

Before adding initiatives, awareness weeks or other activities, get the fundamentals right: ensure that key components of the employment contract, like overtime rates, are understood and respected by employer and employee alike.

5. Three in four employees agree wellbeing matters to customers as well as employees

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A total of 73% of those surveyed said a business’s approach to staff wellbeing matters when buying goods and services from them – so, clearly, wellbeing matters to customers, not just employees.

Given the reputational risks of wellbeing washing, detailed further in Claro’s report, it’s critical to consider its potential impact on your organisation’s bottom line and overall value.

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