Wellbeing and workplace performance

Key points

There is growing recognition of the importance of individual wellbeing inside and outside the workplace. In working to get the very best out of their organisation, many managers are choosing to adopt practices to increase the wellbeing of their staff.

A recent and comprehensive study (GOV.UK - Review of evidence on employee wellbeing and its potential impact on workplace performance) suggests improvement in wellbeing will result in improved workplace performance: in profitability (financial performance), labour productivity and the quality of outputs or services. Job satisfaction - including aspects such as satisfaction with training, skills development opportunities, how much autonomy employees have in their role, and how much scope they have to use their own initiative and influence decisions, show a strong and positive link with workplace performance.

What is wellbeing?

The term "wellbeing" covers several aspects of the way people feel about their lives, including their jobs, and their relationships with the people around them. Of course, a person's wellbeing is to do with their own character and home or social life along with the workplace, but research shows that employers can have an influence on an individual's sense of wellbeing in the way they run a workplace.

How can individual wellbeing at work be improved?

Employers have the potential to influence the wellbeing of their staff. There is no 'one size fits all' but where employers are able to raise wellbeing in their workforce, they are also likely to see improvements in the performance of their workplace.

There will be different factors that influence wellbeing at an individual level, but detailed analysis of a wide range of research studies has suggested that there are 11 key factors for increasing wellbeing to boost performance in general. The research suggests that employers who are able to focus effort on a number of these areas should be able to increase wellbeing.

Alongside these factors which can boost wellbeing, the research also showed that when the demands of a job are particularly high this can reduce wellbeing. It was noted that job demands resulted not only from the amount of work a member of staff was undertaking, but also from the level of compatibility with pressures outside of work. One means of addressing this would be by consideration of opportunities to undertake flexible working.

A key thread that runs through many of these factors is ensuring good, open communication with employees. Unions and employee representatives can be helpful in involving employees in decision making, especially in combination with good leadership and line management.

Wellbeing resources

Thinking around Wellbeing is developing over time, but there are a number of useful studies and guidance around this and related topics which will be of use to an employer considering taking action in support of a wellbeing agenda.

Acas Productivity tool

Take the Acas self-diagnosis Productivity Tool test to understand your organisation's strengths and weaknesses, and to help you identify simple practical steps you can take to get the best out of your staff. The tool will produce a report with links to relevant Acas help and tools.

Other useful resources

Employers can also utilise the Acas Model Workplace tool and Help for small firms step-by-step guides to reinforce their knowledge and understanding of the key employment areas. A set of Useful templates for letters, forms and checklists is also available to assist employers with recruitment, management and discipline.

Tell us what you think

The concept of 'employee wellbeing' and thinking about how it can be used in the workplace is developing over time. Please complete our feedback form to let us know how useful you find the content on this page so we can improve it for the future. (Please mention "Wellbeing" in your feedback so that we can link it with this page.)