Doworkplace well-being programmes work? It depends.

When done right it works but do it wrong and of course it won’t work!

What can employers do to address low participation in health surveys and biometric screening, poor employee health outcomes, unmet cost reduction targets, and low perceived employee support?

So,before you add more programmes, policies, practices, and activities, consider these best practices based on research on 812 companies with more than 4.7million employees. The study included small scale to large scale businesses in the US. Done by Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO)  and titled ''Workplace Well-being Factors that Predict Employee Participation, Health and Medical Cost Impact and Perceived Support.''


What can employers do to address low participation in health surveys and biometric screening, poor employee health outcomes, unmet cost reduction targets, and low perceived employee support?


1.Demonstrate organisational commitment to employee health and well-being

Commitment to employee health and well-being starts from the top -founders, board, and top management.

The values, culture and business goals of the company as they relate to employee health and well-being determine the actions of leaders. Organisations communicate and demonstrate a commitment to a culture of health in their vision/mission statement that supports a healthy workplace culture, including employee health and well-being in business goals and value statements.

2.Ensure senior leaders understand the link to business results -Please include the middle managers!

Senior leaders are likely to invest and prioritise employee health and well-being when they have understanding of how health and well-being impact business results -revenue, profitability and sustainability.There is evidence that companies that invest in culture of health are more financially successful in market capitalisation, revenue, growth and profitability.

3.Walk the talk and actively support employee health and well-being

Support and participation in wellness activities and programmes by leaders at all levels including middle managers and supervisors will encourage employees to do the same. The activities need to be included during working hours and seen as important by all. Allocating these activities to off-work time sends a wrong signal. Recognition and reward of those who make healthy choices and act to promote health and well-being encourage others.

4.Support mid-level managers and supervisors in promoting employee health and well-being

Managers and supervisors require training, budgets and resources to support their teams in the most relevant way and manner. They determine what gets done by their teams especially when there are conflicts between goals, e.g.  presenteeism,when workers are ill and need time off to recover.

5.Implement policies that support employee well-being

We need to consider employee population, location and diversity and what policiesare currently in place and in use and the gaps that exist.

Policies such as  tobacco free office, hybrid policy, health insurance, flexible work arrangements, healthy food in company cafeteria, events and meetings , ergonomically sound working conditions, respectful work environment, physical activity ,maternity and paternity leave, paid time off, leave, violence prevention and sexual harassment prevention policy.

Allow employees to engage in well-being activities during work time :When  employees spend up to between 3 to 5 hours to commute to and from work, the workplace will be the greatest opportunity formost to engage in well-being activities.

The policies need to be coordinated and support health and well-being from the employee perspectives.


6.Engage employees at all levels of the organisation

Consider all employees onsite, field or remote as relevant. Employees should have input into programme content, delivery methods and plans for the future needs. Focus group discussions and regular surveys will be useful. Acting on the feedbackreceived is critical to encourage employees to provide information when requested in future. Network of ambassadors and champions at all levels could also act as promoters and to collect continuous feedback in their interactions with their colleagues.  


7.Develop a strategic plan with measurable goals and objectives

Development of specific and measurable strategic plans that cover employee health and well-being goals and objectives, reporting plan and how the components will work together to produce measurable goals and objectives. Different relevant stakeholders should be considered and engaged with their input included in the planning, implementation and reporting progress on agreed regular intervals.

8.Regularly share programme performance data and information with multiple stakeholder groups

The reports of progress should be shared with the leaders, middle managers,supervisors, employees and other stakeholders such as suppliers, family members of employees other external groups included earlier in planning.

9.Target communication to diverse groups

Consider the diversity of your stakeholders – multiple generations ,office or fieldstaff may require different messages and communication channels that work for them. Social media may be suitable for young employees , while the older ones may want print.


10.Support employee wellness champions and ambassadors with tools and resources

Invest in supporting wellness champions and ambassadors with trainings, tools, information and other resources. Recognition and reward of successes will encourage this vital group to do more.






1.Packing A Punch: Proven Well-being Strategies - Jessica Grossmeier PhD

2. Grossmeier J, Castle PH, Pitts JS, et al. Workplace Well-Being Factors That Predict Employee Participation, Health and Medical Cost Impact, and Perceived Support. American Journal of Health Promotion.2020;34(4):349-358.