10 companies getting workplace wellbeing right

The research into the connection between wellbeing and company performance just keeps on growing and it looks pretty conclusive; employee wellbeing has a critical impact on numerous areas of business performance. For example, low wellbeing results in higher levels of absence: a recent CIPD survey found that mental ill-health and stress were the top two causes of long term absence in UK workplaces. It’s also one of the reasons employees quit their jobs.

On the positive flip side is the mounting evidence demonstrating that investment in wellbeing is achieving results. For example, workplace interventions can lead to improvements in diet. This International Journal of Workplace Health Management review found counseling at work influences physical activity behavior amongst employees. Research from Gallup found that already engaged employees experienced even higher performance outcomes when physical wellness programming was added to the mix.

It’s no surprise then that businesses are really starting to focus on improving wellbeing and quite a few are already embracing a range of innovative approaches.

Here are 10 of those companies and organizations that are investing in, and succeeding with improving their employees’ wellbeing:

1. NextJump

E-commerce company NextJump firmly believes its example just goes to prove that being a smaller sized company should not be a barrier to helping employees with their health and wellbeing.

In fact, health and wellness are one of core foundational principles of the business. Help is offered with all aspects of health and fitness including managing energy, nutrition and mental health. It encourages proper breaks as an effective way to re-energize and help people work more efficiently when they return back to it. It provides healthy snacks. Employees are offered a range of physical activities to get involved in and are encouraged to participate for at least 20 minutes twice a week. Psychological and emotional coaching programs are also on offer. The emphasis is on “being the ‘best you’ you can be”.

There’s been a fourfold increase in annual sales growth from 30% to 120% – and the only variable involved was investment in its people: compelling support for NextJump’s belief that if you take care of your people, they will take care of your business.

2. Johnson & Johnson

Even as far back as the late 1970s Johnson & Johnson had recognized the importance of wellbeing. That paved the way for the company, which has 130 thousand workers in more than 60 countries, to become pioneers in the health promotion of its own employees.

At the heart of its activity is the desire to give employees permission to take care of themselves through promoting a culture of health. It’s not really focused on ‘programs’ as such; the emphasis is more on creating and sustaining the culture. The associated are secondary and designed to support that culture. Intrinsic motivation’s important. The company recognizes that the key for this to be successful is for employees to embrace it because it matters to them.

The wellbeing message is embedded through the physical built environment and everyday activities. From healthy eating advice in the canteens to fitness centers that provide lunchtime classes, the wellbeing theme is apparent throughout the company. As VP for Total Rewards Susan Podlogar says; “Having your employees at their best and fully engaged is a business issue – it’s not just a nice to have.”

3. Buffer

Buffer is not a company that makes its employees feel like they need to hide their emotions. There’s a strong belief in authenticity and encouraging people to be their complete selves at work and that means sharing the highs and supporting people during the lows.

CEO Joel Gascoigne freely shares the fact that he has darker days, even tweeting about times he’s been talking to a therapist as a way to deal with a sense of overwhelming. The company provides access to online therapists for its entire remote workforce along with free subscriptions to health and wellbeing app Joyable. Resources like Slack are used as a place to share and discuss mental health resources. There’s a huge emphasis on preventative measures – including the introduction of the ‘Unsick Day’ which is a day off that must be dedicated to preventative care.

4. Chesapeake Energy

US energy provider Chesapeake Energy places a substantial focus on physical wellbeing as a route to helping employees with their overall wellbeing.

The company provides a 72,000 square foot fitness center complete with Olympic-sized swimming pool, rock climbing wall and personal trainers. It’s a serious investment in looking after its employees – but its one that the company considers is a completely justified expense given the vital part it plays in recruiting and retaining healthy team members.

Also included at its 120-acre headquarters is on-site daycare for children aged between six weeks to five years of age and a health clinic with full medical and dental care. The company also offers a range of medical benefits as part of its full-time package covering pretty much every aspect of physical health you can think of including dental, vision and prescriptions.

5. The National Health Service

With all the news headlines telling us how tough things are in the NHS, it’s very easy to overlook all the good things that are going on, not just in terms of the patients it treats but also what it’s doing to look after its own people.

Take County Durham and Darlington NHS foundation trust. It’s been doing some really positive wellbeing activity, founded on research that revealed positive employee wellbeing is linked to better patient outcomes. Activity ties in with various national wellbeing initiatives, including flu jabs available to all, along with annual wellbeing roadshows taking place for staff to help them be healthier not only in body but in mind too.

The Trust has set up various fitness groups to help people get involved in activities like cycling and yoga. It also has a ‘health advocate’ initiative, where colleagues support one another in staying healthy and happy. Contributions of ideas are welcomed, with employees invited to post them on the Trust’s health and wellbeing ideas board.

6. USAA

Promoting health is something that’s actively embraced by military community banking, investing and insurance company USAA. Its’ wellbeing initiative ‘Surround Sound’ has been in place for well over a decade. It recognizes that as well as leaders talking about having a culture of wellbeing, employees also want to see evidence of those changes and shifts in behavior day-to-day. Business leaders drive the wellbeing culture change by being the first to do things. That’s partly why you’ll see the CEO in the fitness center every day: as Lindsay Fillinger, the company’s manager for fitness and recreation comments in this YouTube clip, the positive ‘shadow’ he casts has a powerful ripple effect.

It’s not just about working up a sweat. USAA also has “Energize” zones around the building for people who haven’t got the time on a given day to go and do some exercise in the gym. All kinds of activities are encouraged and these zones also act as relaxation points, places where employees can go to gather their thoughts. Messages are scattered on boards throughout the building to remind people about the healthful behaviors they are encouraged to adopt but it’s completely their own choice – no one’s forced to do any of it.

7. Accenture

Multinational professional services company Accenture is keen to offer choice to its employees. It offers flexibility over the way they can choose to work. Flexible schedules are available and employees can opt to work in non-Accenture office environments.

The company also has an App-based “Accenture Active” initiative. It encourages employees to choose a key wellness goal that matters to them and then supports and rewards them for accomplishing it.

Accenture places a major emphasis on the mental wellbeing of its staff. There’s an appreciation at the company that, sometimes, work-related stress can be linked closely to what’s going on outside the workplace. So like financial assistance. There are confidential support services available to help employees with issues like stress, substance abuse, depression and anxiety as well.

8. Bupa

As health experts, Bupa knows the effect a healthy working environment can have on employees. So as well as helping other people to achieve their maximum health potential, Bupa puts a lot of energy into taking care of its own employees. At the core of its activity is the global wellbeing program “Smile”. It has several components, including a performance energy initiative that has been developed with a clinical psychologist to help people manage their energy levels, feel more in control and be better able to deal with daily pressures.

There are different approaches depending on the country too. For instance, the “Bupa Boost” wellbeing app in the UK facilitates nutrition, personal fitness, mindfulness and relaxation goals. It also gathers in health data so Bupa’s better placed to pinpoint health concerns of employees. Little nudges and reminders from the app keep employees on track with simple healthy behaviors like remembering to drink enough water during the day. Other elements include the 24/7 “Healthy Minds” service which supports mental wellbeing by offering advice in many areas: from coping with bereavement to stress management to legal advice.

As you’d expect from a company like Bupa, other health initiatives like heart health checks are widely offered and used as a basis for healthy lifestyle plans along with an extensive range of local wellbeing events and workshops.

9. Hilton

American multinational hospitality company Hilton’s focus is on employee wellbeing in mind, body and spirit. That’s manifested itself through the “Thrive@Hilton” wellbeing initiative that was launched in 2017. It’s the first hospitality company to partner with Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global startup which delivers, amongst other things, wellness corporate training.

The “Thrive@Hilton” initiative is aimed at everyone in the business. Ultimately it’s all about helping team members feel more resilient, focused and optimistic about their work. It’s led to a whole host of wellbeing initiatives including health-oriented pop-ups, wellness days and even flu clinics. A self-guided e-learning course led by Ariana Huffington supports the mind pillar of the mind, body, spirit model. Subjects like yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are regularly explored and directors are provided with in-person global training from Thrive Global experts.

There’s also the “Give a Dream, Live a Dream” month-long sabbatical option which gives team members with five or more years’ service the chance to be chosen for either philanthropic work or to explore new interests or achieve a personal goal.

10. Facebook

The Facebook campus lends itself well to being an environment that encourages physical health. There’s a fitness center. And there are bikes – lots of them! The company provides them to help employees get around campus and to take advantage of the health benefits that regularly being out in the fresh air and cycling offers. At the same time, it’s part of the company’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. The company’s taken a rather quirky approach to employee vending machines; rather than offering the usual fizzy drinks and bars of chocolate, Facebook has installed vending machines that provide all the parts you’d need to repair a bike!

As well as physical fitness, the company encourages several other wellbeing initiatives including enabling employees to volunteer in the community. It’s built firmly on the belief that incorporating the idea of ‘giving back’ into wellness initiatives is positive for both society and employees.

A cause for good above objectives for profit

Whilst the research into wellbeing initiatives does demonstrate positive business outcomes for the organizations which adopt them, improving bottom-line performance is rarely the reason companies begin to take a proper look at the wellbeing of their employees.

The benefits and end results are by-products. Businesses introduce wellbeing initiatives because they want to do the right thing by their employees and contribute to supporting happier lives. But they also understand that to have a successful workforce, better longevity, assisted through good wellbeing, is a significant factor in the business of success.

Read more: Wellbeing in the workplace: what does the latest research say?

Modern-day recognition practices are increasingly becoming known to be a positive contributor towards better wellbeing, helping companies move their values, ethos and overall culture towards investing in their people – and that includes their health and wellbeing.