Workplace Wellbeing: What Employees Really Want
We asked 100s of employees in both the public and private sectors what they needed from their employers to improve their wellbeing at work, and this is what they said! This article will go through the results of our 2022 workplace wellbeing survey, what employees said they really wanted, and provide you with some strategies to implement going forward.
This workplace wellbeing guide is ideal for management, HR, and anyone in charge of wellbeing at organisations of any size. It has been adapted from our free workplace wellbeing webinar on 16th August 2022.
Wellbeing Survey Results
We’ll begin with some of the key results from our workplace wellbeing survey, which was conducted between June-August 2022 and garnered nearly 500 responses. There was an even split of public and private sector workers, with the majority working full-time hours.
How do you currently feel about your work situation?
Nearly three-quarters of all respondents rated how they felt about their current work situation as a 3 (okay) or below, which is probably unsurprising right now. We’ve been aware of the growing discontent at work and the ‘great resignation’ for a while. Those most unhappy at work were in the public or non-profit sectors, which again was to be expected with growing workloads, staffing issues, and pay stagnation. A little later on in the survey results, we’ll look at what some of the biggest issues were that caused such low scores.
How would you rate the wellbeing help and support from your workplace?
The next question we asked was how employees would rate the current wellbeing support at work. Nearly 10% rated the support as awful, but the majority (40%) said the support they received was okay. When asked how much support they received, 53.7% said they received some and nearly 14% said there was no support available at all. One of the most interesting results was that 16% of all respondents said they weren’t sure what support was available, and this is something we’ll look at in more detail later on.
At The Anti-Burnout Club, we’ve been aware of burnout being on the rise for some time, but even we were shocked by the results of this. A whopping 88.4% of respondents were worried that they were either burning out or close to burning out. However, only just over a third thought that their employer would support them if they were becoming unwell due to stress or burnout.
We received 100s of comments throughout the survey where we asked people to open up about some of their concerns at work. We could probably write a whole other article based on the comments alone! However, these were some of the critical areas of concern:
- Workplace wellbeing felt like a box-ticking exercise. There were a lot of mentions of ‘lip service’ and ‘tokenistic’ support.
- Many were unsure what their workplaces offered or where to find that information.
- Support felt reactive and people needed to be really struggling or even signed off work before they were taken seriously.
- There are plenty of workplace wellbeing services but no time to utilise them. The onus was on the employee to do these in their own time, as opposed to dedicated time at work.
- There were also lots of comments about company culture not matching up with advertised wellbeing initiatives (eg, a toxic work environment or unrealistic workloads adding to stress).
What Employees Said They Wanted
We have split the results of this up into two parts. The first looked at working conditions such as pay and workload. The second asked about specific wellbeing initiatives we know are popular in workplaces. We know that for some, particularly in the public sector, there are constraints around working conditions that can’t be solved overnight. We will go into some of these areas and what may be helpful in the short term, but we’re aware that there are deeper issues that need to be resolved too.
Unsurprisingly, 65.3% of respondents said that fair pay or a pay rise was key to improving their wellbeing at work. The rest of the results were as follows:
- 56.8% More rewards/appreciation
- 52.6% A reduction in workload
- 49.5% More breaks
- 47.4% Better work/life balance (particularly when it came to receiving work calls/emails outside of hours)
- 45.3% Better communication with other employees and management
- 38.9% More flexibility with working hours
When it came down to specific wellbeing initiatives, a wellbeing platform that covers a little bit of everything (movement, mindfulness, nutrition, etc) topped the list at 51.6%. People want to find what works for them, as opposed to being given 1-2 specific tools that they might not use. Also high up on the list were away days at 48.4%, proving that employees are craving connection more than ever, and workshops at 42.1%.
Actionable Ways to Improve Employee Wellbeing
Now that we have a good idea of what employees are asking for, we can dig into each of these areas in turn. By the end of this article, you should hopefully be able to put together an action plan and have a list of some ‘quick wins’ that you’ll be able to implement in the workplace.
We know that this was one of the biggest ‘wants’ from employees, but may be difficult or even impossible for some organisations (particularly in the public sector). Unfortunately, financial stress is one of the biggest causes of burnout and is likely to rise over the next few years. Here are our top tips for those who are unable to provide a pay rise or where pay is out of your hands:
- Consider how you can improve the overall financial wellbeing of employees instead. This may be in the form of signposting for debt and budgeting support or providing financial wellbeing talks and workshops.
- Consider what other options there may be for rewards and recognition beyond pay if a raise is not an option. We’ll look into these in a little more detail shortly.
- Consider what other benefits your employees could utilise that may help them cut their outgoings and make sure these are clearly communicated to all. For example, discount services such as Blue Light Card and My VIP Rewards.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Gather together useful resources for financial wellbeing and ensure these are easily accessible for employees (eg, on your organisation’s intranet)
- Quick Win: Look up any rewards employees may be eligible for (eg, Blue Light Card) and communicate these to the whole team
- Research other discount services that may help cut employee outgoings
- Arrange for a financial wellbeing talk or workshop
- Talk to us about our financial wellbeing mini-course and how your employees may benefit
Another one of the top ‘wants’ from employees was more rewards, recognition and appreciation. There were dozens of comments about feeling unappreciated at work and that rewards didn’t have to necessarily be financial. Our advice for improving this area is:
- Encourage management and team leaders to provide positive and evaluative feedback over critical feedback.
- Employees thrive when positive feedback and recognition comes from something they’ve done off of their own initiative more than something they’ve been told to do, so consider this during appraisals.
- Consider employee recognition events, email newsletters, and regular one-to-one feedback to improve morale, motivation and wellbeing.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Start having conversations with your team. These don’t need to be formal; just get to know the people whose wellbeing you want to improve.
- Quick Win: Attend our next free workplace wellbeing event on intrinsic motivation to learn more about some of these key areas.
- Create a workplace wellbeing survey and start gathering feedback from employees.
- Discuss with management how to improve appraisals, one-to-ones, and other ways of providing employee feedback.
- Arrange an employee recognition day or event to celebrate your team.
There are lots of different ways that communication can be improved in the workplace, including making wellbeing offerings more visible. Better communication between your team members can also have a positive impact on work/life balance, which was a key area for many according to our workplace wellbeing survey. Here are our top tips:
- How visible are your workplace wellbeing offerings? How can you make these easier to access? One organisation we’ve worked with that does this really well is Keeping Well SEL. This site is the perfect example of how to make it clear what you offer. However, if you don’t have the time or budget for something quite as in-depth as this, then regular email updates, a notice board, and/or a wellbeing page on your website can do the trick.
- Analyse your current communication channels and work out what could be made better. Some of the comments we received were about too many communication channels and it all becoming quite overwhelming. Streamline the way your employees communicate and let them know that they absolutely can (and should) turn off communication channels when they’re not at work.
- Start conversations about goals, targets and workloads. Find out where the biggest issues are happening and if there are any departments really struggling. If you’re unable to do much about this right now (eg, due to staffing issues), then make it clear you are listening, understanding, and will feed back to the right people.
- Ask employees for their ideas and solutions to problems. Get them involved in making choices about their own wellbeing at work.
- Organise meetings or safe spaces where people can engage in open dialogue about the issues they’re facing at work.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Analyse your current communication channels and ask employees which they’d like to see stay/go.
- Quick Win: Communicate with employees that they can and should turn those communication channels off outside of working hours.
- Set up group meetings and/or safe spaces to encourage discussions around issues faced at work. Find out where the key issues are.
- Ask employees what ideas they have and ensure you’re actively listening to all ideas. Implement what you can from these ideas!
- Create your own workplace wellbeing hub online or somewhere easily accessible for employees to learn more about what is on offer.
Feeling More Connected as a Team
After years of feeling detached and isolated, it comes as no surprise that teams want to feel more connected. We’ve seen a huge rise in employees saying they want to spend time with their teams and believe it would help improve connection and their wellbeing. There are many ways teams can feel more connected, including:
- Create groups and communities – or ask employees to create their own. These can be wellbeing groups, hobby groups (eg, book club) or other groups that help people feel connected (menopause or LGBTQ+ groups, for example).
- Organise team-building activities such as away days or smaller group activities. Even initiatives such as walking meetings outside of the workplace or coffee mornings can have a big impact without needing a lot of time or money.
- Start a post-it note appreciation wall or random acts of kindness emails.
- If employees are working remotely, try to arrange 1-2 events a year where everyone can get together. You may also want to consider Zoom/Teams co-working sessions to help remote employees feel more connected.
- Start a weekly/monthly newsletter to celebrate your employees, let them know what wellbeing initiatives are happening, and to feature any random acts of kindness emails. This actually ticks a lot of boxes including better communication and more appreciation.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Create a wall of appreciation or random acts of kindness emails. A wall of appreciation is a blank space on a wall (for example, in a break room) where employees can post their thanks and appreciation to other employees using post-it notes. If this isn’t possible, then ask your team to email in any thanks, gratitude or appreciation and include these in email newsletters.
- Quick Win: Start a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep your team in the loop about anything related to their wellbeing.
- Encourage employees to start their own groups and/or communities. Consider a workplace wellbeing group at the bare minimum if you don’t already have one.
- Arrange 1-2 upcoming events where employees can get together and to promote team bonding. These could be smaller coffee mornings all the way through to away days.
- Help remote employees feel more connected using Zoom/Teams and arrange a minimum of 1-2 co-working sessions per month. Employees can simply login and work alongside others as if they’re in the office.
Integrating Wellbeing into Company Culture
Some of the most-used phrases in our workplace wellbeing survey were things such as ‘lip service’ or ‘box ticking.’ It’s clear that employees want to feel as though better wellbeing is ingrained in company culture, and not just an after-thought. This is generally a long-term change that needs to happen, and here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Do as I do! Get everyone from management down onboard with your new wellbeing initiatives and plans. This means that if there’s a new blanket rule to not email outside of work hours, then that includes management too. If your team sees management taking better care of their wellbeing, this will trickle down into the rest of the organisation.
- Provide employees with the time they need to get the support they need. If you’re bringing in new wellbeing initiatives then ensure there’s time available to do this during work hours (where possible). These could be lunch and learn workshops or even dedicated days to focus on wellbeing.
- Provide prompts and reminders wherever possible. This could be in the newsletter we spoke about earlier or tips and tricks dotted around the break room.
- Be open and honest about the things you can and cannot control. If the initiatives you’re bringing in are just sticking plasters, then acknowledge that you’re aware more needs to be done in the long-term.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Arrange a lunchtime learning workshop based on your new wellbeing initiatives.
- Quick Win: Gather some resources that you can use as prompts and reminders to distribute around the workplace/on your own website.
- Work with management to embed your new wellbeing initiatives into company culture. Encourage a ‘Do as I Do’ attitude.
- Be open and honest about what is within your control right now and keep asking for feedback that can be used to improve.
- Analyse current time for wellbeing (eg, break times) and put together a plan to increase the time available.
Setting up The Ideal Environment
Following on from our advice about setting up prompts and reminders for employees, the final advice we have is all around setting up the ideal environment. Creating a workplace that helps employees thrive will integrate wellbeing into your organisation’s culture even further. These tips can work both in physical workspaces and for those working remotely:
- Create visual cues and reminders in places where employees will see them most often. In physical workplaces this can be in the form of a notice board or dotted around a break room. If employees are working remotely, this can be on your own website or Intranet with regular emails/reminders to encourage employees to use the resources.
- Provide self-help tools that employees can use in a variety of different situations. For example, breathing exercises for when they’re feeling stressed or where to get help if they’re worried about their mental health.
- Keep break areas clean and decluttered with minimal ‘silent reminders’ of work where possible. For example, a break room covered in “Don’t forget to file your paperwork” posters is not going to help anyone feel relaxed. If you don’t have a lot of space, turn one corner of a break room into your ‘wellbeing hub.’ If you are working remotely, ensure that the wellbeing section of your website or intranet is clear, easy to use, and has no work-related reminders.
Action Plan and Quick Wins
- Quick Win: Utilise our free resources to create visual cues and reminders. We’re in the process of adding more, so please do get in touch if there’s something you’d like to see in particular. You’re free to link to anything we do from your own workplace wellbeing hub or print off our content to use in break rooms etc.
- Quick Win: Again, a weekly or monthly newsletter is excellent for cues and reminders. As are notice boards in a physical workspace. Consider where would work best for your team.
- Ensure that any designated ‘de-stress spaces’ are free from ‘silent reminders’ of work wherever possible.
- Ensure there is a clear space for wellbeing, whether that’s the corner of the break room, an entire break room, or somewhere online.
- Ask employees what they think would improve their working environment. If you have a workplace wellbeing team, turn this into a project for them.
How The Anti-Burnout Club Can Help
We have now gone through most of the key aspects of workplace wellbeing that employees would like to see improved. Hopefully, you now have a clear action plan and some quick wins to start putting into place. We’d also love to help your team thrive, so here are some of the ways we can improve your employees’ wellbeing.
The most voted for wellbeing initiative was a wellbeing platform that covers a little bit of everything, which is exactly what we do at The Anti-Burnout Club. Our platform has been designed to solve many of the hurdles people face when trying to reduce their stress and improve their wellbeing.
We know that people often struggle with a lack of time. Our classes and courses have been designed to be ‘bite-sized’, promoting a sense of achievement. There are 100s of courses, classes and recipes that your team can pick from on our platform. When people find what works for them, they are much more likely to stick to it. We provide a wide range of choices to enable this. No other wellbeing service currently offers the range of tools and techniques we do.
As a social enterprise, our mission is to ensure wellbeing is seen as a necessity as opposed to a ‘luxury.’ That’s why our platform is also extremely affordable (from £2 per employee).
You can book in a free consultation to see the platform in action.
Other Ways We Can Help
Our platform isn’t the only way we can help your team, however! Here are some of the other options we provide to improve workplace wellbeing:
We’ve also run month-long events, provided discounted access to our standalone courses, and so much more. We’re proud to have worked with both public and private sector organisations from small businesses through to NHS trusts and charities like Macmillan. We’re a business for good and we want to keep improving the wellbeing of the UK workforce through all of our different services. If there’s something you’d like from us that we haven’t covered, please do get in touch.