3 minute read 19 Jul 2021
Team creative business people meeting

Why organisations should protect employee wellbeing

By Amy Walters

Manager, EY Lane4, EY Professional Services Limited

Specialises in human performance with a focus on applied psychology. Translates academic thinking and research into practical solutions for business. Visiting lecturer at Bath University.

3 minute read 19 Jul 2021
Related topics Workforce

Wellbeing is integral for performance. Supporting people’s physical and emotional health will allow them to reach their full potential.

In brief
  • Developing a thorough understanding of wellbeing is crucial to helping employees perform at their best.
  • Designing a successful wellbeing programme for your organisation is imperative for business success.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put wellbeing into focus for many organisations, forcing it to the top of the corporate agenda. It is critical that businesses endeavour to create a healthy workplace and workforce. This can be done through supporting employee wellbeing. 


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A holistic approach to wellbeing

We believe that a holistic approach provides the best understanding of how we can encourage people to thrive. We hold the belief that an integrated approach which focuses on building the resilience in people’s mind, body and environment, is the key to wellbeing.

  • Mind

    The mind is instrumental in achieving a state of wellbeing. This is attained by broadening psychological flexibility, which is the ability to hold thoughts and feelings lightly and act in ways that matter to the individual. Psychological flexibility can be enhanced by improving one’s emotional flexibility, being present in the moment, and staying true to one’s values.

  • Body

    The body is a highly important part of maintaining one’s wellbeing. The ability to restore energy, putting high-quality fuel into the body, and partaking in physical activity all have positive impacts on wellbeing.

  • Environment

    To support and build people's resilience, their working environment must be able to facilitate them in operating from a state of wellbeing. This includes having clarity of job expectations, supportive working relationships, and providing them with tasks that are aligned to their personal purpose.

Why is employee wellbeing important?

Simply put, when employees have high levels of wellbeing a business will thrive. The American Psychological Society found that organisations that promoted health and wellbeing reduced turnover, their people had higher job satisfaction and were more likely to say they are motivated to do their best.1 When employee wellbeing is poor, businesses falter. In 2020, 17.9 million working days were lost because of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in the UK alone.2

How to create a successful employee wellbeing programme

Creating a successful employee wellbeing initiative is not as straightforward as it might seem. So, it is crucial to lay the foundations that will help them succeed in the long-term.

There are three key ingredients to a successful employee wellbeing initiative:

1. Align it with your organisational mission

Your employee wellbeing programme will struggle from the start if you do not help senior leaders understand its value. They are more likely to be supportive when they understand how the initiative will contribute to the organisation’s vision and mission.

An employee wellbeing programme will have more return on investment if your employees and leaders understand how it benefits them and the organisation.

2. Take time to understand people’s needs

Before designing an employee wellbeing programme, it’s important to find out what your people need and want from it. Letting people know that you have incorporated their feedback will increase their engagement with the programme.

Your employees will be more engaged by a wellbeing initiative that appeals to their basic human needs. Psychologists suggest these may include:

  • Competence: a need to be good at what we do
  • Autonomy: a need to feel free to make our own choices and follow our own goals
  • Relatedness: a need to connect with others

3. Measure the impact of the programme

Measuring the impact of wellbeing initiatives is critical for making sure they improve over time. Before starting the programme, work with key stakeholders to identify what a positive impact would mean for your organisation. For example, if the aim of an initiative is to help people make healthier choices, what specifically would qualify as a healthy choice? How would this be quantified? How would it be tracked? If you can’t answer these questions, your programme will be less effective, and you will struggle to demonstrate return on investment (ROI).

  • Show article references#Hide article references

    1. M.J. Grawitch & D.W. Ballard, “The psychologically healthy workplace: Building a win-win environment for organizations and employees.”, American Psychological Association, 2016.
    2. Health and Safety Executive, Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020 (Crown Copyright, 2020).


People’s wellbeing is not a luxury. It is a business imperative. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that employee wellbeing is crucial to business success. Organisations must put employee wellbeing and culture at the centre of the workplace to thrive.

About this article

By Amy Walters

Manager, EY Lane4, EY Professional Services Limited

Specialises in human performance with a focus on applied psychology. Translates academic thinking and research into practical solutions for business. Visiting lecturer at Bath University.

Related topics Workforce