• Helen Manson

Do well-being initiatives at work, work?

Workplace well-being initiatives that focus on employee health, exercise and productivity have almost no detectable benefits on clinical measures of health, a major study has found, with experts saying employers must focus on broader organisational culture.

In the study, Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes, individuals were given learning modules on how to eat well, exercise and reduce stress, which was supported by experts and wellness providers over the course of 18 months. The impact of the programme was then compared to data from 33,000 employees across the US to measure its effectiveness.

At the end of the trial period, participants reported increased levels of exercise and weight loss, but no notable improvements in 80 other areas, including quality of sleep, food choices or economic outcomes for employers, such as a fall in the number of sick days taken.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, states "Employers who invest in wellbeing need to look at their broader organisational culture first, including leadership, values, and how managers are developed and supported to manage people in the right way. Wellbeing should support this, but if it’s just treated as a bolt-on it wouldn’t be surprising for interventions to be ineffective,” he said.

In summary, there's no point in buying your employees lots of fruit if you're expecting them to stay late to eat it.

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