Wellbeing washing – what you need to know
Ever heard of “wellbeing washing”? It’s a term that’s trending in the workplace and a label that employers want to avoid.
Here at Work Psychology Group we recognise that our employees are our greatest asset, so have reflected on our journey with wellbeing strategies and employee support below.
What is well-being washing?
Wellbeing washing is when a company does one thing externally, and another thing internally. A company might create wellbeing initiatives or celebrate awareness days for external praise but not support their employees with an inclusive working culture.
Last year, research conducted by Claro Wellbeing found that 71% of businesses celebrated mental health awareness days, but, only 36% of these same businesses were deemed good or outstanding by their employees regarding mental health support.
By getting things wrong, employers risk impacting not just their employees’ health, but also their business’ productivity and success.
Why companies need a wellbeing strategy
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 12 billion working days are lost every year due to poor employee mental health. The WHO recommends that all employers train people managers and employees in mental health awareness and support individuals with bespoke interventions.
Between 2020 and 2022, 88% of UK employees experienced symptoms of burnout.
Getting the WPG wellbeing strategy right
At WPG we’re on our own journey when it comes to workplace wellbeing.
It’s something we’ve been focusing on for a few years now, and it’s something we’ve really invested in.
Here are the key lessons we have learnt so far:
Collaborate with your employees. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wellbeing strategies, in fact, it should be as unique as your business.
In 2022, we bolstered WPG Giving, our rewards and recognition programme following consultations with our team. It’s unique to us and reflects what makes our employees tick.
Honesty is always the best policy. One way to avoid wellbeing washing is being authentic. Celebrate successes when they arise, and also keep the lines of communication open with your colleagues so you can add to your strategy in future. We know that we won’t necessarily be doing the same thing in another five years as our team makeup will change.
The workplace is changing, embrace it! When we moved to remote working in 2020, we found that we were missing out on those water cooler moments. When we’d been office based, we’d had a weekly desk stretch so decided to bring these online as weekly wellbeing check-ins.
Three years on, these have evolved into anything we want them to be. We’ve tried everything from games and Zoom quizzes to Zumba and yoga. Our wellbeing champion, Jordan Buxton explains, “Even if someone can just pop in for five minutes, they make an effort to check-in. It’s something our team really enjoys.”
Remember, there’s no one size fits all. Our WPG Olympics are in their third year this year. Unlike a step competition, we wanted to create something inclusive that would motivate and reward all team members, regardless of their backgrounds, hobbies, or interests.
Our team divides into three teams (we’re very competitive) and each person logs their activity in a way that suits them. This can be anything from walking the dog and cleaning the house, to yoga, CrossFit, and even volleyball. Jordan has created an extensive score sheet to log scores based on time and activity.
“This year with all the weather we’ve been having our three teams of The Lightning Bolts, The Cyclones, and The Tornadoes. I make sure that scores are announced weekly, with a prize at the end of six weeks for the winning team” reflects Jordan.
Our Olympics have evolved too, we even tried a Winter Olympics in 2021!
At WPG we recognise that when it comes to workplace wellbeing, it’s a journey that should continually evolve with the business.
Want to follow along with our Olympics this year? We’ll be posting updates on our Twitter.