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20 Jan 2023

Don’t be guilty of ‘wellbeing washing’ – put people first

Why it's important to embed employee wellbeing into a company’s values

Don’t be guilty of ‘wellbeing washing’ – put people first.jpg 1


Social value, employee wellbeing, corporate climate commitment: all popular terms businesses use to state their intentions, enhance their brand identity, and attract new talent. There’s a good reason for it too, because a business needs to show strength in these areas to secure interest from Generation Z – the workforce of tomorrow.

Shaping the future of business identity

We’re in an employee-driven market and expectations are evolving. Once upon a time, it was the company that offered the highest salary that acquired the top talent, but the market is changing.

In a cost-of-living crisis, salary is a key factor, but it isn’t the only or main driver in a job seeker’s decision-making process.

According to Sodexo studies, 62% of Gen Z will prioritise a work-life balance over financial perks and other employee benefits. Instead, embedding flexibility, hybrid and remote working into your culture and business practices is more important than ever. It can present challenges, which is why it’s worthwhile making these changes now, so you’re in the best place to secure future talent.

According to research, 64% of millennials will assess a business’s social and environmental commitments before accepting a job offer. So, for example, if your business raises funds for a mental health charity, your employees’ mental wellbeing should also be a priority. Otherwise, you're at risk of being inauthentic, impacting your credibility.

Embedding wellbeing into company culture 

The phrase ‘wellbeing washing’ has crept into the industry. This can be seen with businesses that focus on their external social value initiatives but neglect to provide meaningful employee support.

1. Mental wellbeing

You must first educate your senior leaders on the importance of creating a mentally resilient workforce.

Areas of focus should be:

  • The legal responsibility of employers to safeguard employee mental health
  • How to prevent and identify occupational burnout
  • Recognising and reducing excess workplace stress
  • Additional training for line managers and team leaders

From here, recruit and train mental health first aiders across different departments, as they will act as your mental wellbeing champions and help support their colleagues. Once they are in place, share information across the business, provide regular wellbeing tips and ensure there’s an open-door policy.

This cultural change will embed mental wellbeing into your core values, but your employees may still need additional support.

Research suggests that the stigma around mental health remains, and only 2% of employees feel comfortable speaking with their employer about it. An employee assistance programme can be invaluable, giving employees confidential access to accredited counsellors.

2. Physical wellbeing

Apply the same principle to physical wellbeing by sharing resources on healthy lifestyles and reinforcing the message by providing healthy snacks. Encourage employees to get up from desks, stretch, move, and use their full lunch hour to recharge.

Solidify your commitment by providing a cycle-to-work scheme or discounted gym memberships to make exercise affordable for all your employees.

3. Financial wellbeing

Employees are hungry for financial education and support in making their money go further. It’s within an employer’s power to offer cost-effective and sustainable financial wellbeing benefits, including educational and money management apps.

To truly embed financial wellbeing into its core values, a business must also introduce benefits to help ease its employees’ financial struggles. Achieve this by giving them access to savings on their everyday spending via an employee discounts platform and by putting a prepaid cashback earning card in their pockets.

Putting people first

With businesses being pulled in different directions in the bid to remain an employer of choice, it can be challenging to determine what to prioritise: external or internal commitments.

If every decision you make puts your people’s wellbeing first, you’ll have successfully embedded employee wellbeing into your core values.

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In partnership with Pluxee UK

Pluxee UK, is a leading employee benefits and engagement partner that opens up a world of opportunities to help people enjoy more of what really matters in their lives.

Contact us today