Wellbeing in the workplace affects individuals, both at work and at home, and can even have an impact long after the employee has stopped working. That’s why workplace wellness has to be the responsibility of both employers and the individuals themselves.

There are many personal factors that may impact wellbeing in the workplace, from demographics and personality traits to exercise behaviours and lifestyle choices. Whilst employers can influence workplace factors, individual employees have the power to control their personal choices and behaviours.

What are the personal factors that may impact wellbeing in the workplace

Some factors – such as age and location – cannot be affected by behavioural change or by good employee wellness benefits. Others however, such as confidence in the workplace, engagement with exercise, and lifestyle factors, could be influenced by workplace policy and peer support.

The impact of employee demographics on wellbeing in the workplace

Age, location, socioeconomic background, and other demographic factors can have a measurable impact on workplace wellbeing. According to the Resolution Foundation, an independent think-tank, sickness-related unemployment is significantly impacted by geography and age. Their 2024 Labour Market Outlook study reports that economic inactivity due to ill-health rose from 5.1% to 5.8%, peaking at 2.8m individuals in October 2023.

The highest proportion of people out of work due to ongoing illness were those at either end of the age spectrum, with younger and older people accounting for 90% of the rise in overall economic activity.

This is supported by Department of Work and Pension (DWP) figures on claims for disability benefits, which shows a 138% increase in the 16-17 age group between 2020 to 2024. The DWP reports that 48% of overall claimants claim for musculoskeletal or connective tissue pain – a factor that can hugely impact workplace wellness.

Employers should be aware of these data trends and support employees with access to employee benefits, resources, and healthier choices.

The impact of job seniority on wellbeing in the workplace

The seniority of an individual’s position within an organisation can influence how they experience workplace wellbeing. Working hours, overtime, travel, and even seemingly positive stressors like client networking can all impact wellbeing by limiting access to free time, exercise, and healthy sleep.

Senior staff members may face unique stressors related to longer hours, decision-making, and managing teams. More junior employees may experience stress associated with performance expectations and career development.

Employers should recognise the challenges faced by employees at different levels and provide appropriate support through mentors, employee benefits packages, and set clear boundaries around work/life balance.

Personal lifestyle choices that influence workplace wellbeing

It’s obvious that the lifestyle choices a person makes outside of their work hours can significantly impact their workplace wellbeing. These include but are not limited to diet, exercise, sleep, alcohol, and drug use, and managing common health risk factors such as cardiovascular wellness.

As an employer, you must be mindful not to overstep the line when encouraging employees to live a healthier lifestyle (especially in their private lives). But there’s plenty you can do to inform, encourage, and lead by example.

Foster a workplace culture that makes healthy eating and exercise accessible, and celebrates positive lifestyle choices. Offer flexible and appealing employee fitness benefits. Make it easy for individuals to make small, consistent healthy lifestyle changes in the workplace.

The role of physical fitness on workplace wellbeing

Regular exercise is linked to numerous benefits to overall wellbeing, including improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke, better ability to manage stress, and improved mood. Employees who take regular exercise or are physically active outside of work are likely to be healthier, happier people at work.

As an employer, you can encourage people to be more active by making exercise accessible during the work day. This might mean building a culture of walking meetings, active breaks, and lunchtime trail walks. You can also appoint wellness champions to offer peer-based encouragement and accountability.

You might also offer good-natured workplace fitness challenges (in the office or between sites), publish news of fitness achievements via in-house comms, or set up informal groups for colleagues who do the same sports.

It’s vital that you offer fitness as part of your employee benefits. Make sure your fitness-as-a-benefit is flexible and adaptable, suiting the needs of all employees. Discounted gym membership as an employee benefit should offer access to multiple sites around the country so people can engage with fitness at a time and location that suits them.

Individual personality traits linked to better workplace wellbeing

Certain behavioural traits can impact an individual’s ability to cope with stress, feel satisfied at work, and maintain overall wellness. Those who are resilient to stress are more likely to bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive outlook as their career progresses. Traits such as assertiveness, the ability to prioritise and delegate, and having the confidence to set boundaries around work hours and workload are important for maintaining workplace wellbeing.

Every employee is different, and there are many personal factors that may impact wellbeing in the workplace. Employers must understand the influence of demographics, lifestyle choices, personality traits, and job position to offer strategies and support that boost employee wellbeing.