Press / Media Interview

Is Workplace Wellbeing really a future focus, or are business leaders paying lip service to avoid churn?


According to a new report from Ibec this week,  ‘Employers are to place greater emphasis on workplace wellbeing as a result of the pandemic’, with 65% of organisations citing a dedicated team or individual responsible for wellbeing, versus 44% in 2020. 

The IBEC Wellbeing Barometer report, which was revealed as part of its virtual Keepwell summit, says a survey of 242 HR professionals found there was a very high level of support for wellbeing at the senior leadership level in their organisations (81%) and that 44% of organisations have explicitly called out wellbeing in their overall business strategy in 2021, compared to 26% last year. 

So while it’s a welcome move for employees, but what does it actually mean for a post-pandemic workforce?

Considering an additional statement, also released this week from Ibec, saying a four-day working week was ‘not realistic’, with the Government to seek proposals from the research community on the social, economic, and environmental implications of reduced working time, you have to consider,  

“Is ‘an emphasis’ on wellbeing enough to give employees that ‘life/work’ balance, we all so clearly crave?”

Despite the unrivaled disruption of the 2020 pandemic, business leaders now have to try to return to some sense of ‘normal and begin to focus on growth and profitability, while also navigating the change in the landscape – with employees looking for a better way of living and working. 

And why wouldn’t they?

One employee I spoke with has swapped his 6 am start and 2-hour commute for a morning walk to school with his children, and he’s still at his ‘desk’ for 9 am.  

Another says ‘the focus on living to work is over, we should be working to live and despite the clear negatives of Covid 19, it did show us that balance is possible’ 

And, according to the Eagle Hill Consulting report, ‘The employee Tsunami is coming’ as workers are making post-pandemic plans which could soon result in a significant turnover.    

Commenting on the report, Sharon Higgins, Ibec Director of Membership and Sectors, said: “In the new world of work that is emerging in the post-Covid landscape, attraction and retention of talent has never been so important. Mental and physical wellbeing initiatives will increasingly become a major factor in individuals’ decision on where they work.”

She added, “This is reflected in the fact that 74% of those surveyed expect an increased focus on management skills in managing employee mental health over the next 2 to 3 years”. 

And therein lies the solution. While ‘Wellbeing’, ‘life work balance’ or a ‘4 day week’,  might be attractive to staff post-pandemic, training and management skills will actually be the thing to keep your workforce robust into the future and will naturally benefit employees’ wellbeing

Very often there are communication challenges, most especially as the reality of the new hybrid remote working hits home, and learning how to give and receive “feedback” to improve communication and enhance teamwork will benefit both sides. 

Increased communication, taking responsibility, and creating a positive culture all benefit employees well being. Employees must work, leaders must lead and business must profit, or the entire system fails. 

While the well-being drive is all very well, the challenge for CEO’s and Boards is achieving targets and increasing business performance, while remaining agile and adaptable, and attractive to staff

Accountability gaps, communications gaps, and performance gaps .. even a skills gap in leadership, can impact a team in a negative way and no amount of incentivised yoga classes are going to fix that. 

If a business is truly focused on employee wellbeing then it is crucial that the building blocks of positive accountability, communication, and clear and achievable expectations are set.  

This will empower employees to be fully engaged and focused. Which will benefit their mental health and in tandem the business objectives, the team culture and in general build a better work environment.  

This is not another thing to do in your business, it is a way to do it. 

So we should absolutely applaud the changes in the approach to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and we should be eager to invest our time and money into the initiatives that benefit our workforce.. but let’s just sense check that our intentions are pure and that the foundations are properly in place upon which to build a robust and happy workforce for the future. 

For more information on how you can build a positive, accountable, and engaged team contact